The Wizeguy: Surprise!

The Walking Dead ended. Well, the touchstone Image Comics title, The Walking Dead came to its conclusion with issue #193. I assume it’s going to crawl out from under the dumpster for a few more “surprise” issues only to end for real at #200. Jokes aside…

Damn. Good for Kirkman.

“The Walking Dead has always been built on surprise. Not knowing what’s going to happen when you turn the page, who’s going to die, how they’re going to die … It’s been essential to the success of this series, Kirkman wrote. “It just felt wrong and against the very nature of this series not to make the actual end as surprising as all the big deaths.”

(Spoilers Ahead)

The conclusion, which serves as an epilogue for the Rick Grimes story, came with little to no warning, but Kirkman claims its time had come. In a day and age when everything is spoiled, this is actually a great move. To just respect the reader enough to let them experience an actual shock is pretty impressive. It might not work for everyone, but to kill off a 16 year old character without warning is almost unheard of these days, and worthy of some respect that it does fit so well with the history of this story. 


I hate surprises, you suck! This whole thing was a shitty stunt and marketing driven!”

But…if the market didn’t know about it how was it…oh never mind.”

In what effing universe is it wrong for a creator to end their art?

I know, I know. What a massive middle finger to the retailers that have supported the book for years. I’ve heard the chatter, TWD is still one of the best selling comics in the US, and suddenly with one day’s notice, retailers are getting left with the short end of the stick.

Think of it this way. This is more akin to advertising a trilogy of movies. When the second movie comes out, it turns out they finish off the story unexpectedly. Even though movie theaters thought the third movie would be coming out, they never ordered prints or posters or anything yet so the only money they lost is the imaginary money they would have gotten if they had sold tickets. The movie theater still has a blockbuster on their hands — probably more so due to the surprise of it — they just won’t get another one next summer. See also: Second and third printings, Trades, Hardcovers, etc.

It also isn’t the first time this has happened, by the way. Way back when Malibu was publishing the Ultraverse, they solicited about six issues of a book called called The Exiles...except the book actually came to an end with issue #4 when nearly all the characters die. In order to preserve the surprise, Malibu did the exact same thing Kirkman did: solicited fake issues with fake covers.

I hope fans get a conclusion they like, and that Kirkman sticks the landing like he did on Invincible. I can’t imagine the amazing catharsis he must feel ending two gigantic series’ within the last year. And hopefully, Kirkman uses some of that zombie money to make Invincible as a live action movie.


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