Luke Addison compares The Walking Dead TV show and comic book series….
Ever since the 1968 release of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead the general public has been obsessed with all things zombie; be it the thinly veiled Romeo and Juliet remake Warm Bodies, or the continuing Resident Evil series, it’s clear that there’s something unnerving by the prospect of the dead coming back to life, and that grips the viewers to their seats in both the better and worse of the zombie films on offer.
The current zombie craze is The Walking Dead. Heard of it? Of course you have. Whether you’re sat watching it on the big TV as it’s televised or illegally downloading it and watching it for free – naughty! – it seems that the majority of people now watch it or at least are privy to hearing about it. It’s definitely a talking point every week at both work and university for myself, at any rate.
Whilst the show is gaining serious prominence around the world, how many of you knew it is entirely based on a comic book series? Not many, I’m guessing. It was started back in 2003 by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore, who at the time had no idea of the craze and popularity that were going to have on their hands ten years later.
If you’ve watched the show up-to-date you’ll know that The Governor has declared war on Rick and the group after they rescued Glenn and Maggie, as well as Michonne killing his daughter and taking his eye, which may indeed be a sore point for the man. That said, the TV show has deviated from the comic book several times up to this point, and in some pretty serious ways.
The most recent deviation would be to do with The Governor and his kidnapping of the group, or certain members rather, and how he treated them. Obviously the Governor took both Glenn and Maggie in the TV show, however this never occurred in the comic. Instead he was keeping Michonne hostage, and rather than the tame – and I say that lightly, compared to my next point – intimidation of Maggie in the show, he raped Michonne repeatedly until she finally escaped. This was changed I assume down to it being obvious that no-one would want to watch that, and it wasn’t needed to make the viewers feel justification for the eventually butchering of The Governor’s daughter and removal of his eye. However, the next deviation follows this. In the comic The Governor is then subjected to a torture of his own at the hands of Michonne, with the result being in an eye lost and his daughter beheaded – similar to the show – and one of his arms being chopped off, as well as his – ahem – crown jewels being mutilated. A just reward for his actions? Perhaps so, but definitely nothing that could be televised.
With those two glaring omissions from the show covered, now it’s time to talk about some of the more minor, yet needlessly changed parts of the show. For example, at the end of season one, Rick and the group go to the CDC for refuge and a chance of rescue, however as you know they’re thwarted by the lone survivor of the building deciding his time was up, and ultimately destroying the building, but not before telling Rick some vital information – not declared to the audience till the end of season two. This never happened in the comic book. Maybe it was decided that it was the best way to have a viable ending to the first season – after all, they didn’t know that it would be picked up for a second, much less a third, and certainly not that it would create the craze it has, but still, in my own mind, it was a poor end to the season.
Still, not all these deviations are bad, the most obvious being the addition of the Dixon brothers, Daryl and Merle, the former being a firm fan favourite for most, whilst the latter was a slimy and unlikeable sidekick to The Governor at the start of the current season. This in my mind is by far the best change in the story, alongside the decision to leave Shane alive for two seasons – he didn’t make it out of the camp in Atlanta – whereas he died fairly early on in the comic series, unfortunately.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the changes if they’re good ones and for the right reasons, but with the upcoming storylines for the show – if they continue to follow the novel that is – it’s going to become increasingly hard to stay even slightly faithful to the source material, but at the end of the day, being a lover of both the show and the comic books, as long as there’s zombies being killed and a decent enough story to follow, who am I to complain?
Luke Addison is an aspiring film journalist with a passion for all things television and film. Follow him on Twitter @Novo_Slev.