The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman re-releases a five-page story and the original proposal sent to Image Comics, which would publish the zombie saga from 2003 until the book's conclusion in 2019. In the concept story scripted by Kirkman and penciled by original artist Tony Moore, Rick Grimes is a small-town police officer who sees little action in his Pennsylvania county. When the undead begin to feed on the flesh of the living, Rick must rise to the challenge and protect his family — his wife, Carol, and their son, Carl — from the madness around them.
When Image published The Walking Dead in October 2003, Kirkman relocated the Grimes family to Kentucky and changed the name of Rick's wife to Lori Grimes. Kirkman would introduce another character named Carol in the book's third issue.
Another change came when Eric Stephenson, at the time the Marketing Director for Image Comics, compared the original proposal's five-page story to a "lame horror movie opening." In The Walking Dead #1, Rick is gunned down by an escaped convict before waking up from a coma in a world "gone bye" and overrun by the dead.
Instead of starting the zombie apocalypse with wife Carol and son Carl by his side, Rick would reunite with Lori and Carl outside Atlanta in the final panels of The Walking Dead #2. Kirkman prefaces the proposal in The Walking Dead Deluxe #2, a re-released and newly colorized version of the issue first published in November 2003:
Here you’ll see the original proposal for THE WALKING DEAD as it was sent to Image. This was sent in somewhere around the end of November 2002. Eric Stephenson (now Publisher, then Marketing Director at Image) commented on the fact that the five-page story contained in the proposal was a lame horror movie opening… I’ll admit it was terribly cliche, now that I look back on it. After hearing Eric’s comments, I came up with the idea of Rick waking up in a coma and restricting the book around that… and we all know what came of THAT, don’t we? Another interesting change to note is that Lori was originally named Carol, and they were originally from Pennsylvania, presumably Pittsburgh.
Below is Kirkman and Moore's five-page pitch for The Walking Dead, followed by the original written proposal:
The Walking Dead Proposal0comments
In the proposal, Kirkman pitches a 22-page, black and white book "just like the best horror movies," even suggesting colorless covers to further cut down on "already minimal printing costs." (Image would release the book with black and white pages but color covers.) Kirkman writes:
Rick Grimes is a small town police officer in the state of Pennsylvania. He lives in a nice house out in the county with his wife, Carol and his son, Carl. Rick doesn’t see much action, aside from target training he’s never even fired his gun, he’s by no means a hero. When the news hits that the undead are roaming the countryside committing acts of mass murder and eating their victims Rick must rise to the challenge to protect his family from the madness around him.
This book is about a man that will do anything to ensure that his family is safe. When private residences are deemed unsafe Rick takes his family on the road, in search of food, shelter, and something that at least resembles stability. We follow the Grimes family as they try to find a way to return to the normal life they once new [sic]. The first story arc will detail their trek across the state that results in their takeover of an abandoned high school. This high school quickly becomes a well-defended stronghold, as life in America turns into something not unlike medieval times. Once a safe base of operations is established Rick will lead an army on a quest to expand the safe zone, and eventually take back the planet… or at least try.
The Walking Dead Deluxe releases twice-monthly from Image Comics. Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD.prev