I love The Walking Dead. Correction, I love AMC’s, Image Comic’s, and Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead; it’s one of my favorite transmedia franchises. I actually read the first volume of the comics before
season one aired on AMC in October of 2010. However, I didn’t continue with the comic books until August of 2014 – currently, I’ve completed the series up to Vol. 18, or issue #108.
Every reader of The Walking Dead comic series knows that the plot of AMC’s television adaptation diverges in its own unique, and sometimes surprising, ways. It is also sometimes strange, or even frustrating, when certain characters in the comics are radically transformed on the screen to fulfill new roles, personalities, and tropes. Sometimes, yes, it’s a positive change; Carol is the best-case scenario when I think of characters in the show who are far more interesting and dynamic than their comic book counterparts. If Carol had a different name in the comics, you’d never recognize her as the same character from the TV show; her personality and development are just that different in the comic book and TV plotline. However, for every Carol, there are characters who fare less favorably – they are, unfortunately, poorly developed and pale in comparison to their comic book equivalent. Below, I list four characters from The Walking Dead TV show who I believe are actually more interesting and better developed in the comic books.
*** COMIC SPOILERS BELOW – READ AT OWN RISK ***
Oh, Dale… your tragic death arrived much too quickly on AMC’s adaptation. Unknown to the casual Walking Deadite, you lived a slightly fuller life in the comic series. That’s right: you survived a leg amputation after a walker took a chunk of meat out of your calf while scouting for much needed fuel to run the prison’s power generator; you outmaneuvered the Governor to protect Andrea, Sophia, Glenn, and Maggie when Rick Grimes vowed to stay and defend the prison; you fought and searched to give Andrea a better life… in short, Dale was a badass who took charge when Rick’s stability deteriorated after Lori’s death. Unfortunately, the TV show’s characterization of Dale was more like a parody of his comic book counterpart: overly concerned and bothersome towards Andrea, his relationship to her is a strong foil to their actualized romance in the comics. To his credit, AMC Dale convinced Andrea from committing suicide at the CDC facility and he did offer other characters valuable advice – comparatively speaking, however, comic book Dale is easily superior.
3. Carl Grimes
Oh my gosh – think what you want about TV Carl but his comic book character develops phenomenally. He is, in my opinion, the biggest badass in the comics. He’s only like eleven but he has more bravery and guts than most people twice his age. Yeah, the TV characterization is pretty tough for a kid, I’ll admit, but comparing him to comic book Carl is like… well, let me explain. For example, comic book Carl straight up shoots and kills Shane. You may be thinking, “but wait, didn’t that happen in the TV show?” Not quite. You see, Carl “kills” the revived zombie Shane after Rick guns him down in self-defense. In the comic, Carl shoots a very-much-still-human Shane after he threatens his father. Furthermore, Carl becomes judge, jury, and executioner after a child named Ben kills his own twin brother, Billy. After the adult members of the group hesitate to take action, Carl covertly assassinates Ben in the middle of the night to ensure that he won’t harm the lives of anyone else in the group. Additionally, when the adults are too frightened to take action against a major villain named Negan – including Carl’s father, Rick, who develops a long-term plan – Carl hides, all by himself, in the back of an enemy vehicle with an assault rifle to attempt the assassination. If that doesn’t take you-know-what than I don’t know what does. My biggest hope is that the TV show will go on to do him justice.
2. Rick Grimes
I loved Rick Grimes the moment I read the first issue. He has many character traits that I admire. He perseveres in the face of adversity; doesn’t hesitate or waiver when faced with difficult decisions; and, the icing-on-the-cake: protective of the ones he loves. I don’t know what it is exactly about TV Rick, but I don’t always find him as compelling. Frankly, sometimes he’s a bit of a bore when I think about his comic book counterpart. Part of my thinking may be attributed to the fact that, comparatively, TV Rick actually has life a little easier than comic book Rick (at least, so far). I know, that might be hard to believe, but let me put it this way: Rick lost his right hand to the Governor. No, I don’t mean his right hand “man;” Rick actually had his right hand chopped off by the Governor in the comic books. Understandably, AMC may have decided to censor this particularly graphic and violent scene by removing the TV plot line (or it may simply be the case that it would be a technological nuisance to conceal actor Andrew Lincon’s right hand and replace it with a computer-generated stump in every episode?). Furthermore, you know his precious baby girl Judith? She also died at the prison along with Lori. Suddenly, TV Rick doesn’t seem to have it so bad – and comic book Rick is all the more unpredictable and badass for his hardships. Every trial and struggle shapes him into the leader that he becomes – someone who still makes many mistakes, mind you – but also someone who has learned from many painful experiences.
Andrea, Andrea, Andrea… where did AMC go wrong? How could they go so terribly wrong? I sympathize with you, I really do, but you made some really terrible choices, even stupid ones, on the TV show. In the comic books, I simply love you, and I think the TV fandom deserves to know just how awesome you are in the comics. When I say “awesome” what I really mean is “the very best character.” Let me tell you why: Andrea survives a knife fight with a murderous criminal who sneak-attacks her in the prison; she goes on to be the best sniper in the entire group; she forges a loving and loyal bond with Dale until he tragically passes away; she returns to the prison to snipe the Woodbury army after her and Dale take the children in the group to safety; and importantly, she remains strong, stable, and level-headed through it all. In contrast, AMC Andrea shares the blonde hair and the marksmanship skills; beyond that, not much else. On the TV show, she’s often ambivalent whether she lives or dies; is attracted to horrible, evil men; and has difficulty making smart decisions when presented with simple solutions to her problems (why you no kill Governor, Andrea?). Comic Andrea is fiery and true to her convictions – when there are conflicts with her romantic interest, Rick (after Dale), she demands the truth – and only resolves to stay with him once he confides in her the true intentions of his plan. Also, Andrea has a few facial scars – the testaments of her badassery.