There are two types of fans of The Walking Dead. There are fans of just the television show, and there are fans of the television AND the fantastic comic book that inspired. I really don’t think there are many fans of the comic book that are NOT fans of the television show (but I could be wrong).
I fall in the latter category, having first discovered the Walking Dead years before the television show (let me take a moment to congratulate myself….sad, yes….)
The first time I ever even heard of “The Walking Dead” was completely by accident. I am one of those guys that peruses the “graphic novel” section of his public library. One day while I was there, I saw this giant black hardcover book. I flipped through it a bit and decided to take it home with me for Christmas break.
Over the vacation from work I sat and read the book from cover to cover. The black and white art of Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard made the stories I was reading feel like an old fashion horror movie.
But it was the writing of Robert Kirkman, coupled along with the visuals, that really brought me in as a fan. This story about a group of survivors living in a world where the dead rise, a world where society as we know it has collapsed, gave a story about killer zombies a sense of realism.
I read that first book, issues 1-12, that day. It pretty much ruined the rest of my vacation because I was too far away to my library to go back and get the second book – and I really didn’t know anything about the popularity of the title.
From what I gathered, this was a little comic book written by a guy that was probably dark and disturbed, and my library was able to get its hands on some hardcover collections that somebody donated. I thought I was becoming a fan of a book that wasn’t all that well known or super popular.
I was very dumb.
I did finally get my hands on the second collection – and picked up the third and fourth while I was at the library too.
Did I mention I’m cheap too?
I read those almost as quickly as I read the first one, and I swear to you on a stack of Superman comics, I said to my wife one day “I really like reading these because each volume feels like a season of television.”
Did I also mention I’m a prophet?
Little did I know just how popular this book and it’s author really is. It wasn’t until I read book 5 and finally decided to give this title my hardly earned money that I started to see how big the Walking Dead is.
And seeing interview with Robert Kirkman, two things struck me. First, he’s younger than I thought. And second, he seems like a bright, fun guy with a wicked sense of sarcastic humor. He’s like a successful version of ME.
My first trade paperbacks for TWD were volumes 11 and 12 which brought me to issue 72. Starting with 73 I’ve been buying single issue after single issue. Sometimes in print – sometimes in digital. Sometimes I’d wait a few months and buy a few to catch up. Other months I’d buy it on my lunch break and devour it on my train ride home from work.
I’ll tell you one thing – buying month to month changes things, but it does with all books. Before I would read an entire storyline in one chunk, now I have to remember what happened last time – it’s like watching your favorite show but having only one episode come out per month.
(Speaking of television, I remember reading some magazine or web site that said AMC had purchased the rights to the comic book to turn it into a show….glad to see that’s worked out well, but that’s a post for another day)
Back to the comic – the good thing is, I’d only recently purchased issue 99 on Comixology, so the story was fresh in my mind today when I drove to Chris’ Comics (Salem, NH) and bought the print version of issue 100.
Chris’ has all its new comics on the back wall. Walking Dead 100 almost took up an entire shelf of that wall. There were so many variant covers to choose from – but the one I chose is basically the image seen at the top of this post.
To me it totally represents what The Walking Dead is – Rick Grimes, our leader, haunted by all the people he’s seen die or has killed himself. That was the cover that spoke to me so that’s the one I went with.
I knew when I was starting this issue that something big was going to happen. It was the 100th issue – something big had to happen. And in the world of “The Walking Dead” that can only mean one thing.
Somebody is going to die.
Back in issue 98, the surprised and shocked me when they killed off a character that was in the book for over 40 issues. It really came out of nowhere, but it escalated events that lead to what happened in issue 100 – the big moment of shock.
I was afraid I knew what was going to happen while reading the issue, then thought I was wrong, then was hoping I was wrong, and then….Well, I don’t want to say too much – but let me tell you one thing.
This is one of the first times I REALLY felt like the “Everything is about to change” story was going to happen. And the how/why I feel that way makes me as sad as one can possibly get with a comic book.
The worst part of it is I have to wait another month to see the fallout of issue 100 and to see fan responses in the letters section that follows each issue.
One thing is for sure, as psyched as I am about the television show coming back for a longer season 3 this fall, I am equally excited each and every month to follow those television characters (or what’s left of them) in their original printed black & white format in the comic that started it all.
To the Walking Dead! Congratulations of 100 issues. Looking forward to the next 200. And counting.