Kevin Fischer is a freelance writer and contributor for Examiner.com. With a passion for TV, movies and music, Kevin is best considered an entertainment-enthusiast. In addition to keeping up with his favorite programs and celebrities, Kevin enjoys preparing for the zombie apocalypse. Check out his Examiner page or Tweet him @KevinTFischer
AMC’s The Walking Dead has been making history with some of the highest ratings and critical acclaim of its genre. With a fourth season well underway and a fifth season already confirmed, it’s clear that the show has become as relentless as the undead it features. However, it’s still remarkable to learn just how many fans identify with the show – either eschewing or completely neglecting the ongoing comic series from whence it was spawned.
Truth be told, both versions of the story have taken on lives of their own – moving on tangentially from one another. Some might say that there really isn’t much of a connection beyond the iconic characters and the overall situation. However, there are still quite a few similarities and a litany of differences that all warrant the occasional comparison.
So let’s talk about some of those differences and similarities…and, obviously, you might want to give this one a miss if you’re not big on spoilers.
The story so far…
Pacing is one of the big differences between the comic and the television show. Yes, the show manages to hit on all the iconic moments fans of the comic know and love, but the show was notorious for really milking it in the early stages. Take, for example, the whole story arc with Shane. In the comic, Shane and Rick had their showdown all within the first six issues.
It took two entire seasons for Rick to have it out with Shane and that was aside from the episodes spent aimlessly wandering through woods and talking about the nature of God. The comics had their slow moments, yes, but pacing between formats is never consistent. Written word lends itself to a kind of narrative slow burn that just doesn’t work with the show. Thankfully, they seemed to have learned their lesson moving forward.
Not just a bunch of pretty faces
Even in a television show about grotesque, shambling corpses, it’s nice to have some pretty faces to root for, isn’t it? That’s kind of the problem with television overall and, as you might expect, it’s a pretty big divergence from the comic which, let’s be frank, had no problem maiming or scarring their leads.
Carl had half of his face blown off in Issue 83, Andrea was sliced from lip to earlobe by one of the prisoners in Issue 18, Dale got a peg leg (similar to the TV version of Hershel) in Issue 42 and, oh yeah, Rick’s right hand was cut off by the Governor in Issue 28 – obviously the comic wasn’t squeamish about challenging its characters or the readers. While Kirkman, to this day, continues to express doubt over these decisions, it’s hard to deny just how important these events were to the development of these characters.
Characters handled a little differently
Rick is still the embodiment of good leadership, Carl is still a brooding killer, Glenn is still clever and a lot of the other iconic characters manage to translate well from the comic to the show. However, there were some differences that still managed to create controversy. While no one is particularly upset with the inclusion of Daryl – other than the fact that he’s sorely missing from the comic – the handling of Andrea’s character was a major point of contention amongst fans.
In the comic, it might surprise some fans of the show to know that she is – as of the writing of this article – alive and well. What’s more, Andrea could well be considered the Legolas of The Walking Dead with her uncanny accuracy as a sniper and her indomitable confidence as a leader and strategist. It’s a far cry from the show’s interpretation of Andrea as an emotionally indecisive schemer.
The list of similarities and differences goes on. Ultimately, none of this is to really downplay the show so much as highlight how radically different it is from the source. In the end, the comic and the show portray the same scenario with, for the most part, the same characters. However, both can and should be enjoyed independently from one another as separate experiences – supplementary but not repetitive.