Welcome to part one of The Walking Dead Comic Newbie, a written series intended to highlight the important differences between The Walking Dead comics and its corresponding television series. What is different? What is the same? Let’s take a look.
Before you say it, I know I’m a little late to The Walking Dead comic book series—or better yet, I’m very late. When the first issue was released in 2003, I was only eleven years old. At that age, I had barely enough money to buy lunch at school, let alone follow a comic book series.
Years later, when The Walking Dead television series had finally aired, I immediately fell in love with the universe and wanted to read the comic books more than ever. Over the years, I attempted to catch up with everything I had missed but never could, partly because of the overwhelmingly large amount of content I would have to consume to do so. This last month, I decided to take on the challenge of reading the comics once again (this time digitally, through Comixology), and I am proud to say that the spark has been officially ignited and I am hopelessly hooked like a fish.
Although I may be a newcomer to The Walking Dead comics, I am particularly well versed in the actual show. As I experience each issue, I have decided to chronicle and define the significant comparisons and differences as they occur. Let’s start with the events of issues 1 through 24 (volumes 1-4).
01. Allen and Donna
Four faces that never make it to the television series are Allen, his wife Donna, and their twin boys. At the start of the comic series, Allen is introduced as a very loving father who is head over heels in love with his wife Donna. As a high-spirited Christian woman, Donna never fails to speak her mind and go against the grain, which eventually leads to her death.
Sending Allen into grief-stricken insanity, the group makes several attempts to bring him back to rationality for the sake of his two children. Allen dies shortly after arriving to the prison when Rick amputates his leg after being bitten. Allen dies from blood loss. This is where the inspiration for Hershel’s amputation comes from.
02. No Abusive Ed
When I was finally introduced to Carol in the comic books, I noticed that her abusive husband Ed was missing. I figured that she would later explain the severity of his abuse, but she never did. Ed is never shown in the comic books, and has already been dead for quite sometime when Rick finally meets Carol.
From what I have observed of Carol so far in the comic books, she seems to have much more personality in comparison to Carol in the show, who doesn’t really start to develop until the third season.
03. The Quick Death of Shane
One of the most significant differences in the comic books was how quickly Shane was cut out from the story. Although the comics introduced Shane’s affair with Lori, along with his history with Rick in law enforcement, his life came to a speedy end in the post-apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead.
Similar to the show, Shane and Rick go off together in the woods to hunt and Shane tells Rick how his return ruined his chances of being with Lori. As soon as Shane draws his gun on Rick, Carl shoots him in order to protect his father and Shane is buried the next day, he does not turn in front of them. Lori is also accepting of Shane’s death in the comics, whereas in the show, she blamed Rick for it.
Shane is far more significant in the show and is often viewed as Rick’s evil counterpart; both were cops, in love with Lori, and held leadership roles after the outbreak. As the show progresses and Rick’s morality diminishes, he begins to share more similarities with his ex-partner whose main goal was to do whatever was necessary to survive, which is ironically Rick’s new creed. If Shane hadn’t lost his mind on the show and was able to survive, would more group members survived as well? We’ll never know.
04. The Missing Dixons
One thing the comic book does not have are the badass Dixon brothers. We all now that the entire direction of the television show shifted numerous times with the two Dixons on the scene, especially Daryl. I must admit, with all of the Daryl fangirl-ing going on, I was actually relieved that he wasn’t in the comic book series.
As Rick and Daryl’s tensions eased at the show’s beginning, Daryl transitioned into becoming a strong addition to the group in terms of man-power. However, now Daryl is interpreted as an actualized character with so many feelings and mistrust issues. What was significant about Daryl was how he said so little, and contributed so much (hunting, tracking and killing walkers). Now he holds a far more significant and emotional role, which sometimes feels like a fan please and less of an actual artistic vision. I guess one would have to assume that if Rick and other members of the group can evolve, why shouldn’t Daryl as well?
In regards to the early relationship between Daryl, Carol, and Sophia that took place on the show… well, that never existed in the earlier issues and was more-so replaced with Carol’s relationship with Tyreese.
05. Hershel’s Farm
If you’re familiar with the television show, than you’re all too familiar with Hershel’s farm. Frequently referred to as one of the slowest parts of the entire series, viewers around the world were at the edge of their seats when Hershel’s barnyard paradise went up in flames. Not because the events surrounding the group’s stay were stagnant, but because we all secretly longed for”greener pastures”. Basically, we just wanted the group to move on.
In defense of season two, Hershel’s farm was the home to many significant events; Dale was torn apart by a stray walker, Otis was sacrificed by Shane, Lori found out she was pregnant, Carl was shot and Shane met his inevitable end. However, 99% of these events never even occurred —aside from Otis shooting Carl on the farm and Lori finding out she was pregnant. The events on the farm were a mere glimpse in the comics, whereas in the show it was extended over 16, hour long episodes.
In the comic book series, Hershel’s run-in with Rick was rather brief. Although Otis did shoot Carl and Hershel tended to Carl’s wounds, Rick and his group leave shortly after the barn full of walkers is discovered, which consequently leads to the death of a few of Hershel’s children. Lori and Hershel get in a heated argument as a result, Hershel comes close to slapping Lori and the group takes off. Once Rick discovers the prison is a safe haven, he returns to the farm to invite Hershel to live in the prison as an active member of the group.
06. Carl and Sophia
Sophia never disappears in the first 24 issues of the comic book. She makes it to the prison —and in one piece I might add. In the comics, Carl is not the only child living in the world of the undead. Both Sophia and Carl speculate their own childlike interpretations of the world around them and form quite the adorable little friendship, which was far more significant than the show.
Looking back at season two when Sophia wanders off the highway and gets lost; it almost felt like the relationship with Carl and Sophia was forced in direct result with her disappearance. Suddenly it seemed as if Carl cared so much about Sophia when it seemed as if he hardly knew her. Was it up to the audience to create a friendship that we never observed? Now that I really think about it, I don’t recall one moment where the two kids said anything to each other on screen, but little “Coral” wanted to name his fetus baby sister, “Sophia”? No. No.
07. Dale and Andrea
One relationship that never made it to the show was the hot romance between Andrea and Dale. Taking on more of a father figure in the show, Dale looked out for Andrea like the daughter that he never had. Watching the television show first made this romance feel a little awkward to me, but served as a great backstory nonetheless. After Allen’s death, Andrea and Dale take on responsibility for Allen and Donna’s twin boys and are more of the quiet observers through out the comics, only stepping in when the need arises —so far.
Still offering up his occasional wisdom, Dale’s character shares many similarities with the show, but he is far less “preachy” on print. Andrea is also far more headstrong in the comics, and doesn’t completely play the “woe is me” card as frequently as she does in the show. Also, comic book Andrea does not pucker her lips 24/7. Thank goodness.
08. The Suicide Pact
Tyreese made his first appearance as early as the second trade. Running into Rick on the road; Tyreese, his daughter Julie, and her boyfriend Chris, join Rick’s group. Shortly after the group settles in the prison, Julie and Chris carry out their secret suicide pact. Sharing their hidden disdain for Tyreese, it was clear that Chris was manipulating the young, simple-minded Julie. Unfortunately for Chris; during the suicide pact, Julie dies before she can pull the trigger, leaving Chris alive. Tyreese brutally murders Chris shortly after finding him tucked in the fetal position, weeping by his daughter’s lifeless body.
09. The Murderous Inmate
In the television series, Rick and his group encounter a small group of inmates in the prison and are forced to share rations with them. One inmate that did not make an appearance with the inmates in the show was Thomas Richards, the incarcerated serial killer. Thomas later goes on a serious killing spree in the prison and slices up Andrea’s face, which later develops into a prominent Joker-like scar.
Herschel has several children in the comic book, most of which were torn apart by zombies when the barnyard door was accidentally thrust open. Two of his young daughters did make it to the prison however, and were discovered beheaded in the prison barbershop, courtesy of Thomas Richards. Rick nearly beats Thomas to death until Maggie finally shows up and finishes the job.
After Rick and Tyreese discover that Julie was killed in a suicide pact with her boyfriend, Julie quickly reanimates and tries to bite her father while he is holding her in his arms. Don’t worry, Tyreese is okay.
After she returns from the dead without a single bite on her, Rick comes to the conclusion that you don’t have to be bitten, we are all infected. With the idea of Shane being buried alive plaguing his mind, Rick returns to Shane’s grave on his motorcycle (Daryl rides a motorcycle!), digs up Shane’s body, has an amazing monologue with zombie Shane and shoots him in the head. Thus granting Rick his ultimate closure.
11. Carol and Tyreese
Shortly after they met, Carol and Tyreese found solace in each other. A lonely widow and a testosterone filled ex-football player, the two had quite the steamy relationship. Carol says in later conversations with Lori that Tyreese made the horrible world they lived in, easier to cope with. It’s a shame that their relationship wouldn’t last.
Shortly after his death in the show, Chad Coleman (the actor who plays Tyreese), mentioned that he would have liked to have seen a relationship with Carol develop in the show. In my opinion, that relationship wouldn’t have fit, especially after Carol murdered his girlfriend in the show. And lets face it. We all want Carol and Daryl to hook up.
Shortly after Michonne arrives to the prison, Tyreese and her hit it off —although he is still bunking with Carol. It was obvious that while Michonne and Tyreese instantly connected over their love for sports, Carol was bothered and knew that Michonne could be a possible threat, and she was.
Carol discovers Michonne secretly performing felatio on Tyreese and in her grief, slits her own wrists in her prison cell with Sophia playing next to her (fantastic parenting). Afterward, Rick and Tyreese get in a huge brawl over Tyreese’s inability to “keep it in his pants,” and the two nearly kill each other.
Shortly after, Carol kisses Lori… and then Rick, and later offers up a polygamist relationship as Rick’s second wife. Still sane, Lori yells at Carol for her ludicrous proposal and the two friends part ways (for now, I would assume).
From what I’ve heard of the rest of the comic book series so far, I’m in for many surprises, some good and some… not so much. Whatever the case may be, stay tuned for PART TWO of The Walking Dead Comic Newbie!