AMC’s The Walking Dead has broken network records since the first episode aired on Halloween night, 2010. As most zombiephiles know, The Walking Dead TV Show is based on the comic version of The Walking Dead, written by zombie fanatic Robert Kirkman (of Marvel Zombies fame). Fans of the Walking Dead show who’ve never read the comic, though, might not realize just how closely the TV show follows the comic in some cases, and how far it diverges in others.
Any time that a comic is made into a movie or TV show, one of the first things that people notice is whether the characters on film seem the same as the characters in the comic. This is one of the areas where The Walking Dead has both scored major points with some fans of the comic book by keeping the characters so true to the book, and alienated some others by leaving out major characters from the comic and adding new ones in that never existed there.
Let’s take a look at how the characters who appear in both the Walking Dead comic and TV show compare. Warning: minor spoilers ahead!!
Visually speaking, Rick Grimes, the main character, looks a bit different in the Walking Dead show than he did in the comic. His hair is shorter and darker, and his face doesn’t quite match up. In terms of his character, however, he follows the comic fairly closely, with one notable exception – like most things in the TV show, he seems to be darker and more serious than his character in the comic.
Shane is one of the characters whose TV counterpart looks significantly different from his character in the Walking Dead comic. Jon Bernthal, the actor who plays Shane, is lacking that square, Batman-esque jaw that defined Shane in the comics, and the TV version of Shane seems to be a bit smaller overall than the hulking comic book version. Also, Bernthal seems to have lost his hat in the Walking Dead TV show. What’s out of whack visually, though, is more than made up for by Bernthal in terms of actually transforming Shane, whose short-lived character in the comic was a bit flat and two-dimensional, into a far more stimulating and complex character on the TV show.
This is one of the instances where most watchers of The Walking Dead are actually glad to see that the TV version doesn’t look that much like the comic version. Callies is widely agreed upon to be far better-looking than the comic version of her character was. She also appears to have made an ethnicity jump during big-screen translation, since the comic version of Lori has a decidedly Native American look to her that that TV version definitely doesn’t. Callies’ portrayal of Lori has made her into a slightly more complex character, and a significantly less happy one – she’s barely smiled at all in the first three episodes of the Walking Dead AMC show.
Carl Grimes, Lori and Rick’s son, is played very close to the hilt by actor Chandler Riggs. The Walking Dead wardrobe people went so far as to replicate the exact T-shirt that his character in the comics wore, adding a layer of authenticity to the character that wasn’t there before. Like Lori, he seems to have made an ethnic shift in the TV show toward a more Caucasian version. In terms of the character himself, Carl on the show is slightly more tame than Carl in the Walking Dead comic, who turned out to be a bit of a bad-ass – but there’s another half season to go, so we’ll see how he develops.