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Back when HBO first premiered Game of Thrones in 2011, the fifth book in author George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series was soon to be released and there wasn’t yet a formation of worries that the TV show would eventually eclipse Martin’s written work. But that’s definitely happening over the final seasons. Could the same thing ever happen to cable’s other ratings monster The Walking Dead? Almost definitely not, according to creator Robert Kirkman.
Walking Dead fans started developing their own Thrones-ish adaptation apprehension as Season 6 covered a whole lot of comic ground – a 20-25 issue span – in order to introduce Negan by the season finale’s end. But the rapid pacing for this one narrative point does not imply that written storylines and characters are getting the short shrift simply to get more TV story out there, and even if it did, the math is still in favor of the comic book never falling behind the series. Here’s how Kirkman put it.
It took us 6 seasons to get to [issue] 100. It won’t take us 6 years to get to 200 and that will take us to Season…TWELVE. And we’ll STILL be ahead of the show by that point. And if the show is still going strong at Season 12…well, that would be about the most amazing thing ever…so we’ll all be too busy celebrating to worry about anything.
Kirkman dropped that answer in the Letter Hacks section of the latest Walking Dead issue. (That’s where he also shared his thoughts on the finale.) And it makes a lot of sense. Assuming that Season 12 would reach issue #200 is also assuming that the show would do something similar to Season 6’s accelerated ramp-up to Negan, and that presumably won’t happen again now that he’s here. They’ll probably stretch the All Out War storyline further if possible. Plus, there is always a lot of stuff that happens in the TV show that never had a place on the page, including characters like Daryl who aren’t around in the source material.
Editor Sean Mackiewicz also points out that the TV series will sometimes reach back to cover character beats and story points that were skipped over the first time around. There are still many things that have occurred in the comic that haven’t even been approached in live-action. (Rick’s hand, anybody?) And there’s also the upcoming Negan standalone issue and the recent Alien issue that introduced new characters and continuity, and extended universe stuff like that will probably continue to be created in the years to come.
Unlike George R.R. Martin, Robert Kirkman hasn’t set a limit for how many more volumes of material he’ll be creating, so we almost definitely won’t have anything to fret over until that happens. There will probably always be more Walking Dead issues than episodes, although AMC might never actually cancel this thing. Meanwhile, we’ll only have two more years or so of Game of Thrones, and at least a decade until Martin completes his Ice and Fire series.
The Walking Dead won’t return to AMC until October. But in the meantime, check out everything else premiering in the next few months, check out our summer TV schedule.