Written By Matt Mason
On Halloween of 2010 the world was exposed to one of my favorite comic books ever, The Walking Dead. I began reading T.W.D. a few years earlier and went into total fan-boy mode when I heard the news about the creation of a television show. I followed twitters, blogs, youtube channels, anything that could give me info on the show. For close to a year it was my obsession. One of the main conversations that people were having was “Will the show follow the storyline of the comics?” Most of the elitist fans wanted it to follow the storyline exactly while others wanted it to stay close but expand on things; maybe choose different routes for certain characters. One thing that we all agreed on was that the comics moved at a fairly fast pace as far as major events were concerned, which simply wouldn’t work for television.
So let’s have a brief recap and I’ll get to where it starts to veer from the comic.
When the show aired on Halloween 2010 we were presented right away with a perfect opening. Rick finds a little girl at an abandoned gas station. His initial instincts are to help the child until he sees the mangled flesh of her face. She begins creeping towards him with a blank look of a child with an uncontrollable hunger. We see the sadness in Ricks eyes as he raises his revolver and with a single bullet to the head… the little girl’s body, teddy bear in hand, becomes lifeless once again.
This was a perfect preview of what the first two seasons had in store emotionally. It was also brand new for the devoted fans of the comic; a great way to grab everyone’s attention. Roughly 5.35 million viewers were glued to their televisions.
The rest of the episode followed fairly close to the first issue (especially Rick waking up in the hospital). This was shot almost panel for panel with only a few small exceptions. We even got to see an awesome recreation of the “bike girl” zombie, the “god, forgive us” suicide family and the horde around the tank when Rick gets to Atlanta.
After the first episode things strayed away from the panel for panel storyline and started taking its own path. Rick met some key comic characters such as Glen and Andrea, as well as some new non-comic characters like Merle, and T-Dawg and the short lived Morales and unimportant Jaqui.
We also find (as we do in the comic) Shane, Lori, Carl, Dale, Amy, Carol, Sophia, and Jim at a camp outside of town with a few non-essential characters. Shane and Lori get horizontal and Carl starts to see Shane as a father figure.
The camp is where we start to see some of the first big changes that were made to character development with Carol and her family.
Carol in the show is married to the abusive sexist, Ed. She is timid, and quiet. After Ed’s death she is in a sense freedom, but becomes an emotional wreck when Sophia goes missing. After Sophia’s death she begins to toughen up and is currently teaching kids to kill. (**Spoiler** Zombies for now)
Carol in the comic is much different. When we meet her she is with Sophia but her (still abusive) husband has already committed suicide after seeing his parents eaten. She is best friends with Lori. Eventually she ends up in a relationship with Tyrese. Their relationship ends after Tyrese cheats on her and she begins to slip mentally. After attempting suicide she asks to enter into a polygamist relationship with Rick and Lori and is quickly denied. Then she feeds herself to a zombie after a nice little conversation.
“You’re probably not going to like it here, y’know. They’re nice enough people, at first they’re great…but they’re so goddamn judgmental. One slip-up…and that’s it really for you. I tried to kill myself. I did. It didn’t work, obviously, but I tried. They won’t let me forget it. Since then, I can see it in their eyes–they’ve lost all respect for me. All of them. Even my best friend. She tries to be nice but I can tell she’s just patronizing me. She hasn’t wanted to talk to me since I did it. She just feels like she has to. Everyone thinks I’m crazy. I don’t really have to, so I figured I’d introduce myself. I’m Carol. I think I’ll just talk to you from now on. You listen, you don’t seem to judge me. That’s really important in a friendship, y’know. Not judging people. I really hope you like me. Oh, good…you do like me.”
—Carol to a walker.
As you can see that’s a major difference in character development. The television version still has the potential to go crazy. I seriously doubt she goes that crazy but it’s totally possible.
Over the next 3 seasons we meet a few important characters and see some classic settings but none of them are as essential to both the growth and demise of the group as the force that is The Governor. Our TVs have given us a clean cut man rebuilding a community while concealing some fish tank heads and keeping his zombified daughter in chains. These two examples of a man gone crazy are just the surface when we meet him in the comics.
But since we have not yet come to a close on the Gov’s story in the show I am not going to spoil his story (you’ll need to wait or read it yourself).
What I will do is give you a quick rundown of some small differences. Like first off The Governor in the comics looks like the stereotypical biker dude. Long black hair, scruffy goatee, and really makes it known that he’s the head honcho. One thing you learn from the novels that neither the comics, nor the show, changed completely is that The Govs name is not Phillip Blake. But that is getting way too close to spoiling some things for those who want to read the novels. Either way The Governor shows off his power in the comics, but is not who he would have everyone believe.
So from these examples I’ve given I hope that fans of the show go out and discover a much different storyline and majorly different group of people in these awesomely written comics. Robert Kirkman has given us an amazing story to follow and the writers of the show have done a great job of making them two entities. Go pick up the comics RIGHT NOW! They’ve printed re-issues and even written newer issues dedicated to revealing backstories of beloved characters. It’s worth the time and money and you will not be disappointed.