AMC’s The Walking Dead returns to television this weekend for the premiere of the second half of its fourth season. This blood-soaked zombie tale been among the highest-rated shows on cable since its debut in 2010, but those just familiar with its broadcast run know only part of The Walking Dead story.
While the network adaptations pull characters and events from Robert Kirkman’s comic book series, it has differed in a number of key ways from the source material. The books are a fascinating read for uninitiated fans, and we recently sought out Creative Writing Course Director Sidney Williams (Literary Genre II: Horror, Mystery and Suspense) for his guide on getting a deeper look into Kirkman’s original vision.
Sid definitely knows horror, as the author of a number of graphic novels in the genre, and below are his personal picks for the top five Walking Dead comics. As he explained, “The comic frequently recalibrates to keep things fresh, and these are five issues that I think offer particularly powerful storytelling flourishes, and often provided fodder for even better television episodes.”
Issue 4 A part of the “Days Gone Bye” arc, this is the issue that includes elements that became the episode “Guts,” one of the best and most justified gross outs ever. The story’s not as gross on the page, but it’s suspenseful. Needing guns inside Atlanta, Rick and Glenn discover they can coat themselves with the scent of “Walkers” as olfactory camouflage. They pass through hordes of the undead, gather guns they need and start back. Then it starts to rain..
Issue 11 Playing with the notion that everyone may not view the undead as hopelessly loss, the survivors learn Hershell’s offended by the notion of just killing the infected. We learn he’s kept many of the undead in his barn, and then someone opens the door.
Issue 13 The “Safety Behind Bars” arc begins with the discovery of the prison. It’s interesting that in this post-apocalyptic world what was once a place to hold prisoners is now a potential refuge. First it has to be cleared of zombies, and then there’s the matter of who else is in the prison and who can be trusted.
Issue 15 The storylines between comic and television series have diverged in several places. SPOILER WARNING for those who’ve never watched: Shane dies earlier in the sequence of events in the comic. It’s in Issue 15 that Rick realizes the dead can be reanimated whether or not they’ve been bitten. That means he has to go back by motorcycle to Atlanta and dig Shane up and kill him again. It’s an interesting mythology revelation as well as a great character moment. Other powerful moments occur in this issue as well.
Issue 19 Michonne is introduced. In a world of great characters, it’s still cool to have a fresh warrior with a kitana to remove zombie heads, not to mention a couple of zombies on leashes, serving much the same purpose that Rick and Glenn’s zombie rub did before.