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walking-dead-comic-castThere a great many of us who really love the walking dead. Some of us started with the comic published by Image Comics starting back in 2003. Others, like me started with the AMC series that started in 2012. Now, before I go on I should warn you that there are spoilers ahead. If you have never read one of the comics or watched an episode and want to avoid learning about any surprises then I would recommend you choose one or both absorb the excellence and return here as soon as possible. If you have only watched one media and want to cross over then be warned because I will discuss some key elements between the two. This can go for the TV show fans, the comic is way ahead of the show and it is important to know that if you read on that the show is only based on the comic. Still, read on only if you have an interest in a medium comparison

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Now that warnings have been stated we can get started. Like I said before I started on premier night of the AMC series. As a long standing fan of the horror, zombie genre I was instantly hooked. AMC delivers a high quality production that has even been lacking in some Hollywood features. This was the first time since the “Living Dead” films that the zombie category not only stayed true to its core concepts but also was produced with respect to the fans and the material. As I watched as season finish and I held my breath to hear that AMC would do a second season. To my delight it was announced and I spent what felt like forever waiting to watch new episodes.

Things that happen;

Rick Grimes wakes up to the world of the walking dead.

He reaches Atlanta and finds his family

Rick gets pegged as a leader and asks everyone to pack up and find safety

They find the CDC and find it is not empty

They make a narrow escape

Comic

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When I first started watching the series I was not aware of the comic. I was told about it later and as I do with many things I made note and stuck a pin in it for later.  Truth be told I never got around to it until recently and for reasons I can share later, I was happy I did not.

As I discovered later things were only the same at first glance. The introduction of Rick was nearly the same. It was not long before you realize that out of characters that are in both mediums only a few are even close to the same. As I read the comics for the first time, well after starting season three of the ACM series I started to get a few difference shocks. (Comic spoiler) The first big item that threw me off was that Shane, who is known and a pain in Rick’s side for part of season one and most of season two, dies! Not later on not after months of living with Rick as part of the group but darn near right away. Best of all it was no accident and it was not rick, OK that is all I will say if that has your interest peaked go read to see details. (Another comic spoiler) The next one was the CDC is not a thing in the comic people; it was just a thing that they put in the show. I found this to be annoying since I felt like the whole CDC thing was just a point black “let’s explain the chaos” approach. My after thought was that this could have blown up in their face so I guess it was done well and it worked.

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Naturally when season one ended I spent the time between waiting, continuing life as normal. As the premiere of season two got close I started prepping bay watching a Walking Dead marathon. Since there were only six episodes it was a short marathon. As if the overall plot of this show was not dark enough season two starts off with raising the bar for darkness. When a member of the group goes missing the group starts looking and they stumble upon a farm that seems like a safe place to stay. We start to see more animalistic behavior from some of the characters at this point and with the missing person tensions are high. I found myself hoping to see the missing group member safe and alive but deep down knowing there is only sadness down that road. The fact that the show could instill that into its fans is a mark of talent. To keep up with the usual TV standards by the end of season all hell breaks loose, some people get separated and some don’t make it out alive. (AMC Series Spoiler) In the AMC series Shane is alive until a showdown with Rick ends his life. We are left with Rick telling the group what he did plus the knowledge of a bite is not the reason you turn and the image of a prison in the background.

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This is where things are really different. Rather go into detail about events I would rather talk about some of the other differences. One thing I realized by this point in the story is that character development in the comic felt deeper and richer. It is not that the show lacks in this area I just felt that the comic was able to do a little more here. The other thing I realized was the comic really made you lose most sense of time which worked well since the characters had lost this sense too. By the end of season two on the AMC and looking at the comic in relation, this is one of the last few points where there is much to compare.

The Break Down

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Both mediums deliver great entertainment but I think one could be better than the other depending on what you like. I can see that the series will never be able to get to the same level of dark as the comic series and for that I am sort of happy. The comics can get pretty wicked but I am able to detach myself easier. I like the TV series for its simple entertainment value and quality production. I have to say I am in favor of the comic. The reason is that the comic holds a little more creative integrity. The other little piece I like is that the characters in the comic are free game and there are no contracts or “real” people to factor into a story line. The show is great but it seems that ratings call too many shots. Lucky thing so far is that the show is still pretty darn good.

Thank you for reading,

Tom Dorsey

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