The Walking Dead just won’t die. The hugely popular series, written by Robert Kirkman with art by Charlie Adlard is returning to comic shops starting this October. However, it is not returning to continue the narrative that we glimpsed in #193 (the final issue) of a world that had largely recovered from the zombie apocalypse. It isn’t returning to fill in the decades of time between that final issue and #192 either. Instead we are getting reprints of the entire series, starting with the first issue from back in 2003, but this time in full color. Color Artist Dave McCaig is lending his talents to the page and bringing the world of The Walking Dead to life in a way it has never been seen before on the comic page.
The Skybound series, which will be released as The Walking Dead Deluxe, was announced at the recent Skybound Xpo. This virtual pop-culture convention was held in lieu of San Diego Comic Con. It would have been very interesting to get a sense of fan reaction while at the mega-convention, as the response to big announcements at the show can serve as a reliable barometer for the success of a project. You can find the full press release and some preview pages from Skybound at the end of this article.
The first question that comes to mind regarding this is, will the demand be there from fans? Much has been made of how much Image has been slipping terms of sales over the last few years, especially in regard to collected volumes. Without new issues of the Walking Dead and fellow powerhouse series Saga sales for Image can best be described as soft. So, can this new version of the Walking Dead reverse trend?
One thing to take into account is how many Walking Dead fans may not be able to afford those early issues that had low print runs. This may be the chance to pick up those early issues that they didn’t know they could ever afford. Also, there are fans out there who simply do not like black & white comics, but with the addition of color and the inherent popularity of the property they may jump on board. It certainly seems as though Image comics and Robert Kirkman’s Skybound imprint, under which he publishes all his titles, are hoping for lightning to strike twice. If previous readers of the series come back and are joined by a new generation of fans who are drawn in by the added color art, then it could be a boost the independent publisher and Kirkman could well use.
Reaction to the announcement from fans on social media largely seems to be positive. I’ve seen a few mentions of those put off by B&W looking forward to picking this up to see what all the fuss was about while the series was still ongoing. Others who have the B&W issues want to pick it up to see how the world will look in color. There were dissenters though, some who felt this was a cash grab by Kirkman and Image. A way to bleed even more money out of hardcore fans while failing to do something new and appeal to new readers from outside the current fan base. When you look at the release schedule for the series you can see where that belief comes from. No collected editions of the colorized books are planned as of yet. Also, the book will be coming out twice a month.
There was also talk of how this might impact comic shops who may have seen a drop off in sales and customers overall when The Walking Dead ended. Some suggested that a color version of The Walking Dead may help out “Mon & Pop” type comic shops, but in the end are simply enabling a long dead retail model to keep shambling along, like a zombie itself. It is a valid point and ultimately the failure or success of the endeavor will depend on the sales themselves.
I am expecting this to be a big hit and would not be surprised if this version of the series brings back long-time fans of the franchise, engages a whole new generation of readers who will in turn become fans and ultimately outsells the original series. Whatever happens, it seems The Walking Dead much like its namesake, isn’t dead yet.
Will you be picking up The Walking Dead when it returns in color? Let us know in the comments below!
PORTLAND, Ore. 07/18/2020 — Read it again! Image Comics/Skybound Entertainment will revisit the historic independent series that took the entertainment world by storm 17 years ago—The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman (Fire Power, Oblivion Song) and Charlie Adlard (Vampire State Building)—with newly, fully colored issues. Featuring the stunning work of the masterful Dave McCaig, these new issues will launch in October with The Walking Dead Deluxe #1. Kirkman first announced the fully colored issues during Skybound Xpo, Skybound’s virtual pop-culture convention, earlier today.
This deluxe revival of the series will also feature a memorable array of variant covers—by such artists as David Finch, Tony Moore, Julian Totino Tedesco, and Arthur Adams—commemorating major character introductions and the series’ most memorable twists and turns. Each issue will include a new installment of “The Cutting Room Floor,” featuring Kirkman’s original handwritten plots along with commentary on abandoned storylines and plot points that may have changed along the way.
This definitive presentation of the story will NOT be collected into trade paperback any time soon, so fans and new readers should not trade-wait to experience this fully colored edition of the popular survival horror series. Issue #1 will be available on October 7. Each following month two issues will be released.
The Walking Dead Deluxe #1 will be available at comic book shops on Wednesday, October 7:
- The Walking Dead Deluxe #1 Cover A David Finch & Dave McCaig – Diamond Code AUG200027
- The Walking Dead Deluxe #1 Cover B Tony Moore & Dave McCaig – Diamond Code AUG200028
- The Walking Dead Deluxe #1 Cover C Charlie Adlard – Diamond Code AUG200029
- The Walking Dead Deluxe #1 Cover D Julian Totino Tedesco – Diamond Code AUG200030
- The Walking Dead Deluxe #1 Cover E Arthur Adams – Diamond Code AUG200031
The Walking Dead Deluxe #1 will also be available for purchase across many digital platforms, including Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, comiXology, and Google Play.