The Walking Dead on Major Death, Remixing Comics for TV

The Walking Dead TV series tends to deviate from its comic book source material when adapting the story into live action. However, the overarching story often remains in tact as certain characters traits or subplots or reassigned to others. The adapting efforts seem to be getting more and more difficult as certain characters bow out early on television or other elements of the books are taken off of the table for the TV show for various reasons. Now, with the book's leading character removed from the equation after leaving the series earlier in a very different manner, Robert Kirkman has opened up about recent decisions and how AMC's show might mix things up.

Spoilers for The Walking Dead TV series and comic issue #192 follow. Major spoilers!

Robert Kirkman created Rick Grimes and The Walking Dead in 2003. The character became a global icon when AMC picked up the comic series and turned into a live-action series which would earn up 17 million live viewers for a single episode. Now, that character has left the TV series -- alive -- because Andrew Lincoln opted out of the show to spend time with his family. However, Rick's death in Wednesday's issue of The Walking Dead comics was a creative decision made by Kirkman and one which he claims had no influence from the events of the TV show.

"I knew that he wouldn’t survive to the end from the very beginning," Kirkman told NYTimes. "It’s always been in the back of my mind that he can be taken off the table for story purposes. When I started developing the Commonwealth arc, I knew that we were going to get to this community that had some very distinct flaws, but was the first real solid step toward getting back to civilization, a place that has restaurants and has an infrastructure and a working government, although a corrupted government. A fixer-upper civilization, if you will, and that Rick would essentially be giving his life to preserve this civilization."

With issue #192 being so close to issue #200, Kirkman's choice to kill Rick before the next major milestone issue was not without specific intention. "I try not to pay attention to anything and just think, what does the story need, what leads to the next big thing?" Kirkman said. "Once I have a basic outline then I have to sit back and think, how do I structure this for the six-issue trade and the 12-issue hardcover and the 24-issue slipcase and the 48-issue compendium? It gives me a structure that I think is very helpful for the storytelling. That’s why Rick dies in issue No. 192: No. 192 is the end of a compendium. So it seems like an arbitrary number, but it really isn’t."

As far as the TV series is concerned, it seems Daryl has been most closely adopting the story laid out by Rick Grimes in the comics with Lincoln having exited the Rick role. Whether or not Rick's comic death is given to Daryl remains to be seen but Kirkman admits there is still collaborative efforts between the comic series and TV show.

"There’s coordination," Kirkman said. "A lot of the changes on the show end up being contractual. If Andrew Lincoln wants to spend more time with his family or wants to take the character in new directions that necessitates a film series as opposed to our television structure, those are things that we have to take into consideration. I don’t really have to deal with that in the comics." That's where the specific elements of certain character stories from the comics get handed out to other characters on the TV show. "Michonne had to take a lot of Andrea’s story line because Andrea lived a long time in the comic book series but died fairly early in the show," Kirkman said "Because of that, some of the stuff with Michonne in the comics was given to Carol. That’s where [Scott Gimple's] term 'remixing' comes from."

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The Walking Dead issue #192 is available now in comic book stores. The Walking Dead TV series returns for its tenth season in October. Fear the walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm ET on AMC.

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