For many years now, The Walking Dead franchise creator Robert Kirkman has alluded to circumstances where his influential comic book series may never end, even though he'd long had the ending in mind. Just prior to the release of issue #193, which serves as an expanded look at the aftermath of Rick's death in the previous issue, it was made public that this will actually serve as the final issue of The Walking Dead comics.
Robert Kirkman had recently clued fans in on the fact that the issue was going to be a triple-sized affair, and that it would go into the aftermath of Rick Grimes' untimely death at the hands of Sebastian Milton. Such a thing was already assumed, but the issue's size made it seem all the more important anyway. Now, knowing that it will be the very last issue altogether, the page count makes even more sense. As does the fact that it's dropping right before San Diego Comic-Con.
The secrecy behind this release was as stringent as production on the TV show got over the years. To the point where, according to THR, Kirkman and his Skybound comic company solicited future issues of The Walking Dead with faux covers designed by illustrator Charlie Adlard. (Side note: I hope those fake covers are printed for collectors' purposes.)
Long before the TV show started, The Walking Dead comics were already known for killing off characters with little build-up or foreshadowing, aiming for shock value while still arguably keeping things within reason. It's safe to say Robert Kirkman & Co. have eclipsed themselves with the 1-2 punch of Rick's death immediately followed by The Walking Dead's own death, so to speak.
Robert Kirkman was heavily teasing the issue having major ramifications on social media, even foreseeing the news leaking before the issues actually hit customers' hands. (Because the issues did hit other people's hands first, which is likely how the news got out to begin with.)
As strange as it is to say, and even to consider, The Walking Dead's undead will officially outlast the comic book that brought them into existence. I guess that means there's room for future spinoffs and continuations, right? That is, assuming Robert Kirkman can fit those kinds of projects into his busy-as-all-hell schedule.
How this news will affect the TV universe remains to be seen. With Andrew Lincoln's Rick already out of the picture and heading for his own trio of AMC features, it'll be interesting to see if the comic book's next big location makes it to live-action in Season 10. Fear the Walking Dead has been good about expanding the world via its own major helicopter reveals.
So it's possible the two mediums' universes will remain somewhat parallel until the TV series completely eclipses the source material's timeline. The only way to know for sure is to pick up issue #193 on Wednesday, July 3, and to tune into The Walking Dead Season 10 when it hits AMC this October.