Anyone that has talked to me for more than 5 minutes could probably tell you that AMC’s hit series The Walking Dead is my favorite show on television. I’m also a pretty big fan of the Image comic book series that the show is based on as well. And while the two have several things in common, there are also some huge differences. Some people that are still alive in the comic are dead on the show, and vice versa. Terrible things that happen to characters in the comic happen to different ones on the show. Heck, there are characters from one medium that don’t even exist in the other. There are differences from each that I prefer over it’s counterpart.
Advantage: Comic –
I love the pacing of the comic a bit more than the show. The book has found a really good balance of character development and action, without getting too heavy on one or the other. Due to not having to pay talent to play them and the lengthened timeline of comics, you get a larger cast of primary characters with fewer “redshirts.” The comic doesn’t have to deal with the FCC, so it doesn’t have the censorship boundaries that the show must contend with. While I’m not saying that I necessarily enjoy graphic violence and language, I understand that it’s part of the zombie genre, so the comic taps into that more than the television series.
I’ve enjoyed the presentation of several of the characters more in the comics as well. While I absolutely hated Andrea on the show (let’s be honest, who didn’t?), I love her character in the comic. Her constant undermining of Rick’s authority and siding with Shane is absent in the books, and she is considered an invaluable team member due to her sharpshooting skills…particularly during Woodbury’s raids on the prison. Speaking of Woodbury, I thoroughly enjoyed David Morrissey’s portrayal of The Governor on the show, but he couldn’t compare to the psychopath of the comic series. Seeing a villain really act like a villain helps the audience to view him as an enemy. On the show, The Governor’s villainy is a bit more subtle, which admittedly works a little better for television, but when you compare the two, I’ll take the comic. The comic also does a much better job of giving Michonne a reason to really hate The Governor.
Advantage: Television –
While I like the comic’s pacing, I prefer the show’s attention to interpersonal conflict…not just from outside the group, but also from within. Shane’s downward spiral, in particular, added an extra layer of drama that was missing in the comic. Rick still has both of his hands on the show, which is a big plus. The show has given us a few great characters that don’t exist in the comic, like T-Dog, Merle, and Milton. The show has turned Maggie into a complete beast and one of my favorite characters, while I’ve always found her comic counterpart rather bland. Last but certainly not least, there’s only three words needed to describe the biggest advantage the television series has over the comic book: Daryl freaking Dixon…