Anyone who knows the Ol’ Space Chief knows I am all about Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead. I tweet about it, do way too many whiny rant videos dissecting the comic and the TV series and buy tons of merch! I simply cannot get enough of it!
As a young kid I was fascinated with horror movies. I had a subscription to Fangoria Magazine, read other fanzines like GoreZone and Deep Red and wanted more than anything else to work for makeup effects master Tom Savini on a George Romero zombie film. The Romero films grabbed a hold of me like no others. Zombies, soulless undead monsters that wanted to strip the flesh from my bones was such a simple yet brilliant concept and quickly became my favorite horror genre. The fact that Robert Kirkman was a huge Romero fan himself probably has a lot to do with my love for his incredible zombie universe.
Kirkman set out to create the zombie story that never ends simply because he was always left wanting more at the end of most zombie films. You always get one of two endings; either a handful of survivors escape or everyone dies. Kirkman wanted to continue following the survivors. Where did they end up when that helicopter ran out of fuel, what happens when the boat finally runs aground on an island somewhere? These are the questions that The Walking Dead answers for fans of The Living Dead!
Some may know Kirkman from his other popular book Invincible, but not me. I discovered Kirkman in a Borders store a couple of years into The Walking Dead and was nearly knocked off my feet by it. A zombie comic? With Romero’s rules? Where has this been? I immediately bought every trade on the shelf and went home to devour them, pun fully intended! I finished the trades and needed more. I got a subscription through my LCS and the rest is zombie history!
Many people may not know this but The Walking Dead almost wasn’t. Kirkman and artist Tony Moore had pitched the idea to publishers and it didn’t go well. He was told that zombie books didn’t sell very well. He tweaked his pitch and went back to Image…and lied! He told them that the book would start out like your typical zombie book but it would later be revealed that aliens were behind the whole thing. Image bought into this and put out the first issue, which sold out, giving Kirkman the courage to tell the publisher that there were no aliens and that The Walking Dead would in fact be a straight up zombie story!
This story alone is enough to respect Kirkman. The fact that he had the guts to go to a fairly major comic book publisher and lie to get his work published shows me the man is dedicated and believes in the story he is writing. Another reason I love Kirkman’s The Walking Dead universe is that he stays true to his mythos. He is more or less writing in Romero’s world, headshots, slow moving meat sacks, and no explanation for why any of it is happening. For me, when the cause is known it gives the characters hope, which removes the scare. When there is no hope, characters become desperate, which creates interesting stories.
The success of Kirkman’s zombie world doesn’t seem to be waning anytime soon and the TV series The Walking Dead is more popular than ever. I remember the shouts of joy and excitement that uncontrollably came out of me when the series was announced, the Space Wife came running into the room thinking I had somehow injured myself and I had to explain that no, I was fine but the greatest television show in history had just been greenlit! I told strangers on the street it was coming, much to the embarrassment of those with me but I didn’t care, I was in zombie heaven!
Nowadays, ten years into Kirkman’s masterpiece, we prepare ourselves for the fourth season of the AMC TV Series and the tenth anniversary of the comic book with issue 115. The Walking Dead is still going strong and I want to say Thank You to Mr. Kirkman for such an incredible fantasy world for us zombie fans to play in even though I am still on the fence about that tiger!