Since the first issue of The Walking Dead’s comic book series debuted in 2003, the franchise has grown to insane levels. It has spawned the hit AMC television show, multiple lines of action figures and toys, several video games, trading cards, and many other fantastic additions. It’s even crazier when you think that the whole franchise exists because of a lie,
The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman hit a brick wall trying to pitch his zombie themed comic book to Image Comics. They felt that the story didn’t have enough of a “hook” to draw in readers. They told him that the book was nothing special and that it wasn’t interesting enough.
That’s when Kirkman told a big lie to the folks at Image in order to get The Walking Dead published. Here’s the story according to an interview that Robert Kirkman did with IGN quite a while back.
"“I had done a few books with them, so I felt comfortable doing this – I basically just lied to them and said, “Well look, this is how it’s going to be: The whole book is going to be as I pitched it, but as the issues progress, eventually I’m going to reveal that it was actually aliens who caused the zombie uprising. And it’s going to be leading to this big battle between the humans and the aliens, and the aliens did this to kind of weaken the humans’ military forces, and eventually it’s going to be this big alien invasion.” And so they said, “Oh yeah, that sounds sweet! Let’s do that.” And so they approved the book based on that.”"
This deception by Robert Kirkman is the kind of creativity that shines through in the pages of The Walking Dead’s comics. The fact that he had to bend the truth so far in order to get one of the most popular television and comic franchises in recent history started says a lot for how difficult it is to get started in the industry.
So, what happened when The Walking Dead #1 was done and it had no talk of aliens or subtle hints at that that storyline?
"“I said, ‘Oh well, I gotta be honest with you…that stuff’s not going to happen. I was kind of fibbing a little bit, and I really just want to do a straight zombie book.”‘"
At that point, The Walking Dead was already gaining a lot of steam and developing a lot of buzz around it as a new comic series. Luckily, the folks at Image Comics didn’t mind the lie too much when the concept and execution of The Walking Dead’s comic book series was on its way to becoming hugely successful.
But there’s still the curiosity of what The Walking Dead would be like if Robert Kirkman had actually gone forward with the lie and included the alien invasion hints and storylines in the comics. Would the comics have gotten as popular? Would the hit AMC television show even exist? Would thousands of people own Daryl Dixon action figures?
It’s amazing to fathom just how different The Walking Dead’s franchise could have become just based off one lie.
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