There has been a divide among Walking Dead fans since the show began. The first show premiered on October 31st, 2010 but the first comic was in October of 2003. That means seven years of love and dedication, years of investment in characters before the first episode came along. Granted, the show starts off the same as the comic. But, there were a lot of differences once the series got up and running. So, which is better?
As with most things, I prefer to see it less of a binary view and more of a personal need. Do you need to see a television show or do you need to know the real characters? As someone who read the comics before starting the show, I think that’s really what it boils down to. I started reading the comics during the intermission before season three or four. I had borrowed the TPBs that were available to that point and read them all. Then, I binge watched the show. Then, I got into the next season. I also started playing the TellTales Walking Dead game. Needless to say, I was hip deep in it and all at once. Here’s what I found:
- First and foremost: The characters. They are better developed in the comics. The comics offer more information about your favorite characters (unless you love Daryl) and the relationships they have with each other. Example? People who never read the comics were confused when Michonne felt this compulsion to kill The Governor. People who saw their interactions in the panels knew why. The series didn’t do justice to how he abused her. In the comics, he raped and beat her for hours and hours each day…for a week or more. There also was no comparison to the retribution inflicted upon him. For that, I like the comic better.
- The story line: Both mediums have advantages this way. The story is further in with the comics than the show. But, the show has the ability to put more in and provide more depth. With television, there are more subtleties that can be played upon. And to keep it interesting, the stories have veered apart, but have some back here and there to introduce characters. While both are great…I’ll give this one to Television. They are a little faster moving and offer a little more depth with more nuances.
- The fans: I LOVE the comic fans! They love everything about the comics and love to talk about them. The characters, the stories, they all cause their eyes to light up like Christmas lights. Television fans are…well, different. “If Darryl dies, we Revolt”? He’s one character and not really that great. Glen died and I balled my eyes out. Still read the comics (that is actually one of my favorite stories…hard as it is to read again). They get so hateful and angry at other fans and they hate people on the show for no reason. When there was an implication Daryl might be into Carol, people lost their shit. It was never actually stated and they all went crazy. No thanks. Comic fans rule.
- Acceptance: The show is commercially the more accepted of the two. As a comic fan, it’s hard to find a great shirt or toy that is from the comic and not the show (in case you don’t know the difference, it’s the logo and the characters). More people watch the show and a lot of the comic readers watch the show and read the comics. I have heard so many show fans say how they mean to read the comics, but it’s too much work (smh). There are games based on the show and none based on the comic (Tell Tales has a game that looks similar to the comic, but the storyline and characters are neither.). TV takes this one by a landslide.
I would say if you have the time, the comics are WAY better than the show. They offer more insight and character development. But, the shows are alright, too. I watch, read and play the games (I also like Star Wars and Star Trek, equally). But, all things being equal…no one is better than the other. As with most things, it’s preference.