The Walking Dead…Is Dead?

Now I know what some of you may be thinking, “oh great, another one of A.J. Diesels hot takes. Another rant where he attempts to shove his opinion down our throats.” And those of you that aren’t saying that, and are excited to read my diatribe, thanks all the same. This article starts as I was doing some comic book research and came across a headline that read “Andrew Lincoln not coming back to Walking Dead”. I immediately, thought “Is The Walking Dead, Dead?” Answer; no. But it may in fact be dying. With Lincoln departing six episodes into season 9, and Lauren Cohen (who is smoking hot) exiting as well, topped off with season 8 being the lowest rated season since 1, the future doesn’t look particularly great. Especially when you make Norman Reedus (I’ll only refer to as Skud) the main character. Not only is he an awful actor, but he’s not even character in the comic book. The comic book already has a large and dynamic cast of characters. I don’t understand why they insists on adding new ones instead of developing existing ones. #notmywalkingdead. 

     After very briefly reading the Lincoln article, and thoroughly thinking about his reason to leave the show (wants focus on film), I was both appalled and impressed. Good for you for betting on yourself, and shame on you for giving up the best role you’ll ever come by. A role that originally cast Thomas Jane (and the rest of Darabonts The Mist costars). 

Now I will admit, I think the show is awful. I gave up watching after season 3, when one of my favorite characters in the story (Andrea), was my least favorite in the show. I also admit that I acknowledge and understand how iconic and influential it has become for an independent comic book adaptation. It certainly will go down as one of the all-time great TV shows in television history. 

Andrew Lincoln was a fine Rick Grimes, a fine actor at that. But why leave The Walking Dead? There must be an ulterior motive, and it can’t be focusing on film roles. His biggest movie before the walking dead was Love Actually. He’s 45 and not getting any younger. Not to mention there is a ton of young talent in Hollywood. Now regardless if he never acts again, he’ll always be a comic convention favorite and make his money that way, but why leave early? Why not see the show through? Because there isn’t much show left. Once he leaves, we will be left with Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the “cool” lead. Sorry, face it fanboys and fangirls, Skud has never, and will never be cool. Unfortunately, Hollywood has already tried making Morgan a lead man (Watchmen, Losers) and in comic book films nonetheless. TV won’t be much different. He got the textbook “Taylor Kitsch” treatment, and although he is good looking and a solid actor, he’s just not the next man up. Kitsch, was the bomb in The Covenant though.

Why did the TV show catch such fire? Fair question, and there are several reasons behind it. 1. Initially Kirkmans writing and story telling was fantastic. 2. A huge cult comic book reading fan base. 3. It was a nice change of pace from all of the superhero films and TV being played on constant rerun. 4. It was the right time. Vampires had their due. The fans of horror wanted something new. Then Zombieland came out in 2009, and people were doing zombie bar crawls, and zombie everything. The Walking Dead found the perfect time to be successful, which it deserves credit for. Yet, like vampires, zombies have seen their fad end like all before. What’s next, werewolves? 

And trust me. When the show inevitably does end, it won’t end with more people reading the book. If sales are high now they’ll drop significantly when the series finale airs. Why? People…are…lazy. When the series ends, most (not all) but most wont think twice about picking the comic book up and continuing the story. No. They’ll change the channel and find the next big talking picture to eat chips and “binge” watch. Why do i say this? Bc I have three people in my family alone who watch the show, and I know have no interest in the comic book.

It’s just more of the same. It started pure. It was fun. It was an epic story. But then, it was the same thing. I’ve been reading it since ‘03, and for the last two months the newest TPB has just been sitting in my folder at my LCS. I can’t decide whether to pay the $17 and read, or buy an ice cold case of bud light and do anything else. It’s to the point where you’re no longer even afraid of the zombies. You’re afraid of people. (I know I know, that’s the point right?) Wrong. Good guys find peace, bad guys come in, good guys are cornered, good guys overcome some bad guys, some people die, they move on bc they meet new people, be happy for a few issues, new bad people come. It’s to the point now where my favorite character in the book is Neagan!!! What does that say about me? I’ve starved this out so long, I can actually rationalize with a dude who beat Glenn to a puddle. It’s to the point where it’s grossly human. Who is the terrorist and who is the freedom fighter? Why is your opinion right, and mine wrong? It’s just a book of complete contradiction. So much so that if we were able start the book following Neagan, Rick would be the bad guy. 

Let’s rewind back to The Watchmen for a second because the two comic books have more in common then you may think. The Watchmen, though a DC title was always its own entity. Not until recently has it been involved in actual continuity. So for all intensive purposes, the two comics are independent type books that have cultish fan-bases. If you recall ~2008, Watchmen #1 was selling NM $100+. I should know, I was one of the idiots buying them. Oh, my former years did I do some foolish things. But, this got me thinking, as popular as the Walking Dead is, how would it do in the box office? I’m assuming it would likely do similar to the Watchmen. A nice strong opening weekend, but after that, it dies out. People who want to see that, would see it right when it comes out, and then it would likely settle around $125-140 domestic. The Walking Dead is appealing now because the show is free, and it’s relevant, but when the shows goes away, most (not all), but most of the books will drop drastically. Take Walking Dead #1 out of the equation, as that issue is the outlier.  It’s low print run, mixed with the best cover in the series and the premiere issue of the iconic series, that book will have staying power the likes of Albedo #2. But after Walking Dead #1, where else can you invest? Sure #2-#5 will be early and desired issues, but what else? #19 the first appearance of Michonne will have a nice following, but after that it gets dicey. Once the story got popular, more people bought books to read/collect, so Image began printing more. Neagan was an awesome character, but they printed a billion #100. People thought Ezekiel would be hot, but #112 isn’t a hard book to get anymore. The problem with this story is, killing off characters “kills” there development (obviously, but no pun intended). So although you may get attached to the character, you don’t need their first appearance because inevitably, they’re a means to an end. 

With all of that said, The Walking Dead should be looked at as the massive achievement that it is. It’s premiere issue will be on every collectors “want”list. Though, when this long-lasting hype is over and the dust settles, Spider-Man and Batman will still be king, and the Image juggernaut, will not. Eat your heart out Kirkman.

Walking Dead Books to invest in-

WTD #1-#6 (First story arc)

WTD #19 (First appearance of Michonne)

WTD #27 (First appearance of the Governor)

WTD #48 (end of Governor story arc)

Thanks for reading, in the video below I’m doing a giveaway. Subscribe and comment for a chance to win!

 

 

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9 comments

  • I have a love / hate relationship with books that kill off characters. Sometimes, if I really liked the character/story, it means a lot to me or has a strong impact. At the same time, like you said, this kills spec. Why chase books with characters in them that have no future? Thanks for the read.

  • accustomfigures

    Excellent article AJ. Really. I’ve been reading WD since around 2005. I agree with your assessment of it. The show, however, is a strange animal. It was the first comic that was “mine” to be turned into a visual medium. None of us were there for the start of Spiderman and Batman, but for WD we were. I remember strapping in for that very first episode when it aired live. I was blown away. I still go back through the first 4 or 5 seasons and hit moments where I tear up. Seeing it have zero direction or inspiration over the past few seasons is a shame. Shame on the show runners and AMC for squandering something so unique, with so much potential, that meant so much to so many people. It went from leading the way to now having no balls. Such a waste.

    There is no Walking Dead without Rick, and there’s no show without Lincoln. However, I think the final nail in the coffin was Carl leaving. There’s a great fan art image if you just google Carl Walking Dead fan art, it should be one of the first. It depicts a much older Carl with a massive beard, his dad’s hat and Colt, Michone’s sword, and Negan’s bat. That’s how the story needed to end.

    • A. J. Diesel

      Just looked up the picture, and it certainly has a powerful and impactful feel to it! Thanks for reading and thanks for letting me know about that! I appreciate it my friend.

  • Foxom

    I can’t agree more. And to add to your points the show just feels like it’s dead. Same story rinse and repeat almost every season. All good thing come to an end… Tweeted out a link for your story, can’t figure out how to subscribe though.

  • Mike Morello

    Agreed, A.J. I gave up on the show. It has been painful to watch for a long time, now. This will be the nail in the coffin. Excellent write-up.

  • dpiercy

    Just replace Andrew Lincoln; it really is as simple as that. I bet that’s what they do, too.

  • The show hasn’t been that good the last few seasons. I really don’t blame Lincoln for leaving. I imagine it gets really booring playing the same role and adventures over and over again, especially if you aren’t a fan of the material. An actor doing the same show for 9 years is very unusual this day and age.

    • A. J. Diesel

      Unless we’re talking about the boys from Supernatural, that freakin show won’t end. Started my freshman year of high school, and I’m closing in on 30 haha.

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