Comic Legends: The Big Lie That Launched The Walking Dead

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and fiftieth week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Yes, we've seriously done 650 of these bad boys. Yikes.

Click here for a special Legends earlier this week. Click here for Part 1 of this week's legends. Click here for Part 2 of this week's legends.


Robert Kirkman lied to Image about The Walking Dead involving an alien invasion to get them to approve the book.



All through this weekend (and earlier in last week), I've been talking about the origins of Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead. When last we left our heroes, Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore, the pair of creators had re-pitched The Walking Dead as a more traditional zombie book after getting rejected as a futuristic zombie story and being told by Jim Valentino not to have the book be a spin-off of Night of the Living Dead. So Kirkman and Moore pitched Image with a more traditional, modern zombie story. THAT pitch was rejected because the opening seemed to boring, so Kirkman revamped it again to come up with the now-famous opening where Rick Grimes gets shot and ends up in a coma and when he wakes up from the coma, the world has been overrun by zombies.


However, even THAT didn't get the book approved, as again, Image just thought that it sounded too, well, NORMAL. Everyone knows a zombie story, ya know?

So Robert Kirkman took one last crack and came up with a lie about the series that he sold to Image's then-Marketing Director, Eric Stephenson, telling him,

"Look, you're right, it does need a hook and that's why after a few issues I'm gonna reveal that this is actually an alien invasion story. That these zombies are actually put on Earth by aliens and it'll eventually be revealed that it's this really cool sci-fi epic involving alien invasion. You know, the seeds will be planted very early on, but it will be a while before it's actuallt revealed."


Stephenson liked the idea and told Jim Valentino and they approved the book.

The Walking Dead #1 came out and it was very well-received and everyone liked it.

However, Stephenson then contacted Kirkman to tell him, "Hey, I read the first issue. It's great. But I didn't see any hints at this alien ivnasion plot that's being set up. Is it gonna come in at #2 or #3 or whatever?"

Kirkman then came clean that he was not intending to actually tie aliens into the story (as noted in Wednesday's Comic Book Legends Revealed) and the first issue had gone so well that they just let Kirkman do his own thing and, well, thank goodness that they did so!!


Thanks to Matt O. for the suggestion, thanks to Jamie Coville for telling me more about this stuff and thanks to Dave Marks at the Zombie Research Society for information about this and the rest of this weekend's The Walking Dead-related legends!

Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed - Did Sonequa Martin-Green Leave Walking Dead For Star Trek?

OK, that's it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for this week's covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo!

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