Comic Legends: Was Walking Dead Going to be Night of the Living 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.


The Walking Dead was originally going to be a continuation of Night of the Living Dead.



Okay, so where we left off yesterday, Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore just got turned down by Image Comics for their futuristic zombie comic book called Dead Planet. Undeterred, Kirkman and Moore try again, this time with a more traditional zombie comic book.

Here are the first few pages of that original pitch...

Image told Kirkman to come up with a better opening for the series and he ended up with the famous opening hook of The Walking Dead #1 (Rick ending up in a coma and then waking up in a world overrun by zombies). However, that pitch above wasn't Kirkman and Moore' ORIGINAL pitch involving Rick, Carl and Lori (Carol in this pitch until someone certainly said, "Wait, the son's name is Carl and the mom's name is Carol? For serious?"). You see, originally, Kirkman thought that it made sense to try to tie the book in with George Romero's classic 1968 horror film, Night of the Living Dead...

(That's Tom Chantrell's poster for the 1980 re-release of the film)

Through a screw-up by its distributor, the Night of the Living Dead ended up in public domain, so Kirkman could make his comic based on that project without having to pay anyone anything. He figured that any little bit of name recognition could help.

So originally, the book was set in the 1960s, even including the original newscaster from the original film...

And the zombies originally devolved slowly, like in the movie.

Here is the zombie from the pitch as originally drawn by Tony Moore...

However, Jim Valentino told Kirkman that while he COULD use the name, but that it made much more sense for Kirkman to come up with his own original concept and thus Kirkman would own it entirely. So Kirkman changed it to The Walking Dead. Plus, Valentino told him to make the zombies look more like zombies.

Think of how different things could have been!

Tomorrow, we'll look into the one last twist that Kirkman had to do to get The Walking Dead approved by Image Comics!

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?

Part 3 will be up later on Sunday! Feel free to write in with suggestions for future legends to either cronb01@aol.com or brianc@cbr.com!

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