The Reading Pile #32 – Remembering the Dead

The Walking Dead 193 has come and gone and I have some sentiments to express. I’m asking you to forgive me, in advance, if I ramble. I do hope you come along with me on my journey on what I thought of the book, the series and what may be coming next. Welcome to The Reading Pile issue 32 – Remembering the Dead.

It’s old news now that folks were scrambling to get copies of this, the fake solicits for issues 194 faked me, and most everyone, out. This left the book under ordered for what was one of the series’, arguably, most notable event. The local comic shop by my work had 4 copies left after pull customers, of which I was one. I did hit the shops around my house on the way home from work and sure enough, all of the stores were sold out.

Lots of people jumped off around the 100 issue mark, but I was still engaged with the All Out War and The Whisperer War arcs. Then there was the New World Order storyline and, um, yeah. To say that this was more of the same (and folks have been saying this for years) and duplicative is spot on. We even had a new protagonist who even goes by “The Governor” moniker. Pretty awful. Like I said, for a lot of folks, issue 100 was the apex of the series and it was all stuff worthy of criticism after that.

To be honest, it has seemed that the title has not had author Robert Kirkman‘s full attention for some time. That changed with issue 193 and we got a conclusion that was worthy of this epic series. I’ll start with the art, for me Charlie Adlard was the artist who defined The Walking Dead. Toney Moore, who created the series with Robert Kirkman, is a phenomenal artist, but his interiors seemed way too cartoony to me. I much preferred Adlard’s deconstructed universe. I think this time jump, with our cast being aged some 15-20 years or so, gave Kirkman a canvas to really create something that was relief from the same old same old. Some highlights:

  • It was a hoot to see Maggie’s kid, aptly named Herschel, grow up to be a brat that most of the community disliked.
  • Ditto on Herschel’s traveling carnival of zombies. Just cool and kind of funny.
  • Sheriff Kapoor wasn’t a total ruse, he actually was in this story.
  • Judge Michonne…err Hawthorne.
  • Overnight interaction with Carl and Lydia

Before this gets too long maybe this was a little too much of a Little House on the Prairie type of conclusion, credit to Brian Wood for that description, but Kirkman’s always been sentimental, bordering on sappy, with this title, but I still think this was a nice ending. Almost all artists, whether they be writers, musicians, illustrators, etc. are going to do their best work when they are younger. You can’t really compete with yourself in that regard.

This was a series that got me back into buying weekly comics. I had strictly been buying trades, or borrowing them from the library, since 2005 and the Sin City movie. I had heard the Walking Dead was awesome and caught up somewhere around issue 50. It was a series that gave back, too, in regards to speculation. Hot issues were straight fire and you could sell sets of non-key issues, quite easily, for $10 a book on average. And with issue 193, we got some of that old TWD speculation back.

I’ve spent a lot of time with the series and wanted to do “something” to commemorate my affections for the title. Here I will include some photos of my travels to The Walking Dead Day in Cynthiana, Kentucky in 2016. This was a huge TWD street festival, held in this small rural town, the home of Robert Kirkman and Toney Moore. This was the festival that got it’s own issue number 1 and you had to see the line through the town, they distributed copies at city hall, to believe it; literally went on for miles.

Skybound Entertainment, Robert Kirkman’s merchandise company, had a booth set up there and Shawn Kirkham, who plays a major role in running said company, had posted, on a message board I frequent, to come seek him out to anyone attending. Well, I did and “Bigclutch” straight up GAVE me all of the black and white Negan Kills variants that had been sold at San Diego Comic Con that year. Kind of amazing, laugh out loud.

So, you have to talk about what’s next, right? Lots of folks speculating on this and that, but to anyone who read the essay at the end of The Walking Dead 193, it’s pretty clear Kirkman is going to enjoy taking time away from writing this title. Some fun tidbits: he mentioned he wanted to continue to issue 300, but straight up ran out of material and that his original ending was at the end of the Alexandria arc. He did close with the post script “Negan Lives” so it’s clear this character will be revisited at some point.

No way to end this other than with a pair of my favorite panels from issue 193. Like I said, I spent a lot of time reading this title and I’m going to miss it. Hope anyone reading this enjoyed it half as much as I did writing it. Thanks and see you next time.

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