But Did You Know it Was About Aliens?

Obviously, there’s been a lot of buzz about this series, and for a very good reason. The Walking Dead is an amazing literary work that very much deserves to be adapted beyond its base audience of loyal comic book readers. It’s such a great idea in fact, that it was predictably inevitable other networks would attempt to come up with their own pale imitations of it. The Syfy Channel is producing a show calledZeros. The show follows a team of zombie exterminators on their various missions. NBC is also jumping on board with a new program calledZombies vs Vampires, which sounds like a shameless attempt to capitalize on the current vampire craze while preemptively cashing in on the the soon-to-be zombie explosion. So there you have it. One person has a great, original idea and everybody else tries to jump on the band wagon. Interestingly enough though, The Walking Dead is not quite as original as you might think. Here are some interesting facts about The Walking Dead.

While The Walking Dead does represent a unique milestone in U.S. TV (a zombie TV drama), the distinction of first zombie centric TV show belongs to a British  series calledDead Set. But who cares,right? It still doesn’t have The Walking Dead’s incredibly kick-ass title. Unfortunately, neither does The Walking Dead, at least not exclusively. There are in fact two other, admittedly little known, zombie properties that also carry The Walking Dead name.The first,a 1936 film. stars Boris Karloff as–you guessed it–a zombie. The other is a comic book series,also called The Walking Dead, published by the now defunct Aircel comics in 1989–predating Kirkman’s Walking Dead by some fourteen years. 

Here’s another interesting tidbit. Did you know The Walking Dead was originally about aliens? It’s well known that The Walking Dead started out as a comic book. What is slightly less well known is thatKirkman pitched this concept as a story about alien invasion. Executives at Image didn’t think the whole zombie angle had quite enough punch, which led Kirkman to say ‘Well what if it was really about aliens’. Image Comics immediately jumped on board with this idea, unaware the Kirkman had absolutely no intention of incorporating extraterrestrials. From that simple lie a flagship comic book series was born culminating in a very, very promising TV show. Who says honesty is the best policy?

So there you have it. The Walking Dead’s Journey from print to screen is paved with deception and re-purposed material. That’s a tongue in cheek comment by the way. Please don’t misunderstand. I am no way knocking Kirkman. In fact, I applaud him for taking an idea long forgotten (twice) and breathing new life into it. I admire his tenacity and willingness to do anything to get this story published. It was worth it. I have a feeling the show will be too. More than that, I think it will become one of those definitive standards by which people measure their zombie fiction. It may not have been first zombie story/comic/show but I think time might prove it to have been among the best, certainly as comic and very possibly as a show.

Here’s a question: In coming to Kirkman’s defense as an idea recycler, have I–in some small way–made Syfy and NBC’s johnny-come-lately, derivative programs more acceptable? Perhaps. Will they be anywhere nearly as good? Pffff. Hell no. 

There you have it. Some random background information about this AMAZING story. That’s what Walking Dead,Talking Head is all about. Check in later for my review of The Walking Dead, premiering tonight on AMC. Two more hours to go. Happy zombie watching!