Why It’s Great that AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’ Isn’t Like the Comic Book

The differences are what make the series not only interesting, but also a winning franchise for AMC Networks.

Feb 16, 2014 at 6:36AM


Norman Reedus stars as Daryl Dixon, a character that doesn't appear in the comics, in AMC's The Walking Dead. Credit: Gene Page/AMC.

I'd just as soon see Robert Kirkman never write another episode of AMC Networks' (NASDAQ:AMCX) The Walking Dead. Not because I hated the midseason premiere (I didn't) or because I dislike Kirkman's work (I'm a fan), but because I'd rather viewers get accustomed to the idea that the TV show is only a loose adaptation of the comic book that Kirkman has been writing for more than a decade.

That isn't likely to happen. If anything, viewers seem to want more Kirkman and callbacks to the comics. My Foolish colleague Leo Sun celebrated his scripting  of episode 409 in a recent column, citing his skill in developing characters. True enough. And yet I doubt The Walking Dead would work as a strict adaptation of Kirkman's comics. Here are four reasons why:

1. Your favorite character might already be dead.
Is there any character among the cast of The Walking Dead that's as popular as Norman Reedus' Daryl Dixon? I don't think so. And yet ... Kirkman didn't create him. Neither Daryl nor his now-deceased brother Merle (played by Michael Rooker) has appeared in "The Walking Dead" comic book. Season one showrunner and series co-creator Frank Darabont developed Daryl and Merle in concert with other writers.

2. AMC Networks wouldn't want it. 
AMC "owns" certain rights attached to the TV version of the property, including the Dixons. That's a key difference, and it explains why one of the two major video game series tied to the brand -- The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, from now-defunct studio Terminal Reality and Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI) -- stars Daryl rather than Rick, Carl, or any other character familiar to fans of the Skybound comic. (Skybound is Kirkman's comic book imprint, publisher of not only "The Walking Dead," but also great comics such as "Thief of Thieves," "Super Dinosaur," and "Invincible.")

3. There wouldn't be any surprises for fans of the comic.
Unlike Walt Disney's Marvel universe -- which suffers from a confusing division of rights that pits studios against each other -- the subtle differences in AMC's The Walking Dead appears to be feeding Skybound's "The Walking Dead," and vice versa. "The Walking Dead" #100 topped the charts with more than 300,000 copies sold during the show's summer 2012 hiatus. When it returned for season 3 that October, more than 10 million viewers tuned in. I don't see that as a coincidence.

4. It wouldn't be Kirkman's best work.
We know because he's said as much in interviews. Having the show is like having a time machine that allows him to change the history of the world he's created. That's a rare gift to a writer. Instead of regretting a particular character's demise or a badly executed plot point in the comic, Kirkman is afforded the chance to try something new and see how it plays. Fans and AMC investors are getting better work (and record ratings) as a result.

Now it's your turn to weigh in, fellow fans. Are you enjoying season 4 of AMC's The Walking Dead? Or would you rather see the network take more from the comic book? Leave a comment in the box below to let us know where you stand.

A real-life survival horror story you want no part of ...
Too many of us either save too little or invest too conservatively to retire well. Sound scary? It can be, especially if you don't set aside enough for needs such as long-term care. The good news? Learning to become a good investor is A LOT easier than you might think. In our brand-new special report, "Your Essential Guide to Start Investing Today," The Motley Fool's personal finance experts show you how to get started, and reveal a handful of stocks you may wish to buy first. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.

Daryl and Beth try to find their way forward in episode 410, "Inmates." Sources: AMC Networks, YouTube.

Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Walt Disney at the time of publication. Check out Tim's web home and portfolio holdings or connect with him on Google+Tumblr, or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

The Motley Fool recommends Activision Blizzard, AMC Networks, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Activision Blizzard and Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at www.fool.com/podcasts.

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to www.fool.com/podcasts, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.


Compare Brokers