The first issue of the Walking Dead graphic novel was published by Image Comics in 2003. Seven years later, on Halloween night, the television show first aired on AMC. It quickly became one of the most popular zombie themed apocalypse franchises of all time. Now, it’s no contest that novels are far superior to their televised/filmed counterparts, but what about comic books? Well, today we’ll be figuring that out. We will be using the same four category system that I used with my TWD vs Fear comparison, with slightly modified categories, of course:
Story, Characters, Imagery and World
We start with story.
With both the comic books and the television show still in production, we are basically given two alternate realities of the same apocalypse. We have two parallel dimensions, if you will, yet the question is which one is more engaging? I’d have to give the point to the comic books on this one. One of the issues the television show has is that it must fill a select number of episodes into each season, and each episode a select number of minutes. As a result, the time that our main cast spends in each location and experiences each situation is restricted. With the comic books, however, you are allowed to
use as many pages as you need, granting you enough time to develop an emotional connection with whatever is going on. Let me stress the television show is doing this amazingly, it’s just that the comic books are doing it better.
Next is characters.
The television show earns the point here, really just for a handful of characters. The Governor in the comics was a Mexican-American in charge of the little town of Woodbury. While the Governor in the show was the same, except being white now, for some reason, we were now able to see his story arch. We saw his transition from average American man to tyrannical dictator via the power of flashbacks, and able to really feel for him and actually understand his side. In the comics, there was six pages of the Governor before he severed Rick’s hand from his wrist with a meat cleaver. Also, Daryl and Merle. I fell in love with these characters, and am using them as an advantage for the television show because the comic books, unfortunately, don’t feature them. I loved their loyalty to one another, I loved their redneck personalities, I loved loved loved them!
Plus a few other good characters make the show worthy of the next point.
Next we have imagery.
In television, the limit to what you show on screen is to your budget. With comic books, when everything is drawn out, the limit is your imagination. I really don’t even have to elaborate, do I? Literally anything could be featured in the next issue of The Walking Dead. Yet in the next episode we always have some idea on what we’re going to see, no matter how small. Maybe we’ll see zombies or gunfire. Maybe we’ll even see a decapitation or two (tastefully edited, of course), yet we’ll never see hordes of zombies in the millions, simply because the show would never be able to afford it.
The last category we have is the world.
What do I mean by this? Like how Middle Earth is the world of The Lord of the Rings and the Seven Kingdoms is the world of A Game of Thrones, which world of the Walking Dead is superior? I’d have to say that this one is a tie. Both have given us what they promised: a post-apocalyptic landscape populated by zombies. Because of that, I shall be rewarding both a point.