The Walking Dead illustrator Charlie Adlard doesn't know whether Negan is alive or dead in creator Robert Kirkman's comic books, which came to an end after 193 issues last July. Negan entered the book as a major antagonist in issue #100, later shifting into more of an anti-hero during the war waged between Rick Grimes' survivors and the flesh-wearing Whisperers. Negan's last full appearance came in issue #174, where he was confronted by the widowed Maggie Rhee over the murder of her husband, Glenn, carried out by Negan and barbwire-wrapped baseball bat Lucille in the book's 100th issue.
In the comic book's surprise final issue, it's learned more than two decades have passed since the death of Rick Grimes. During the intervening years, Negan became a recluse who avoids the grown-up Carl Grimes when he delivers supplies. Negan is shown only for a single panel, appearing in shadow as he sets flowers at the grave of his long-dead wife.
"He might be a zombie, for all we know," Adlard told Konbini while sketching how Negan might appear as a walker. "Even I don’t know whether he’s alive or dead."
In a goodbye letter ending the book's final issue, Kirkman signed off with a tease: "P.S. Negan Lives."
"Robert and I had played this ending four years ago. We had a conversation about finishing it that long ago," Adlard said. "It was no sort of big surprise, obviously, to either of us when we got closer to the finish because we knew we were going to finish on that specific issue number and things like that."
"I didn’t want to finish because I’d had enough, I wanted to finish with the feeling of wanting still to do more. Because in the end, you’re giving the fans more than, rather than just disappointing them with the fact you’re on automatic pilot just drawing this thing arguably for the money," he continued. "That was the reason we decided to end it, still when it was popular, still when there were stories to tell. But not anymore [laughs]."
"I think that’s a really cool tidbit. Theoretically living in that farmhouse. Theoretically there might be a story to be told there; it’s possible that’s my escape hatch if my career ever takes a hard nosedive, just roll out a Negan comic," Kirkman said at San Diego Comic-Con. "There’s no plans as of yet, but there’s an option there, sure."
TWD Season 10 returns with new episodes Feb. 23 on AMC. For more TWD intel, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.