As the Walking Dead comic books hit the milestone 100, fans are gearing up for Season 3 of the show to premiere on AMC. The market on the comics have been buzzing as of late, but I recently spoke to several vendors who are nervous about it. Well, I’m here to say in no uncertain terms, relax. Here’s why.
Most of us can remember the exact moment that our favorite show jumped the shark. For those of you still not familiar with that phrase, it refers to the moment when the show peaked and started what is usually a rapid downhill slide. Usually this involves adding a cast member or making another significant change to try to keep the show going. Like when Eric left That 70’s Show and all of the sudden there’s a long lost friend on the set who no one has ever mentioned but we’re supposed to just accept is there.
For a lot of us, if we follow a show closely enough and love it in a way that only a true fanboy (or girl) can, then we can often even see such a jump coming. We can see the momentum a show has run on slowing down, and we can calculate the exact moment that they’ll give us an episode that we know deep down shows that the writers have run out of ideas. As Walking Dead enters its 3rd season shortly, the entertainment juggernaut certainly shows no signs of slowing down. And I’m here to officially predict right now that as a show, Walking Dead makes it a lot longer than anyone would expect.
One of the toughest jobs of a television writer is material. What situation will the characters get into this week? And more importantly, what can the characters do that makes sure that the viewers want to tune in next week? And this is where the glory of a show that’s based on a comic book comes from. Smallville showed us that even a simple idea that’s been half beaten to death can be uber successful if there’s enough source material behind it. With The Walking Dead comics having just crossed the 100 issue mark, and the show averaging roughly less than a comics worth of material per episode (given they’re adding stuff that wasn’t in the comics and jumping around quite a bit, but in the grand scheme the show is right around the issue #20 mark) that means that at this rate the show can go on for another 8-10 years without breaking a sweat. And that’s if the comic series were to end right now.
But there’s more than that to the world of Walking Dead, and that’s where the genius of the Kirkman’s world lies. We are following a single group in an entire world that’s been reset. At any time, should the story of Rick and Co. get old, we can switch. We can start over, with an entirely new and different group set in a different part of the country or world, and the show can carry on. We can see how different people react to the zombie plague, and we’ll tune in with the massive response that we have thus far because it lets us wonder in a way that no other show does. It lets us wonder what we would do, how we would react, to an entire world that now wants to kill us. Don’t be surprised when years from now Walking Dead is still a front runner on AMC.
I recently spoke to a vendor at a comic book show who had a large cache of Walking Dead comics, and told me he planned to dump them all as soon as possible because he just didn’t know how long the show could keep the interest high. And that’s what the previous musings were all about. There are collectors and sellers out there who, to varying degrees, are worried that The Walking Dead will be jumping the shark sometime in the near future. And, in doing so, the value of their investments will plummet. But what so many people tend to forget is that writers don’t jump the shark because they want to, they do it because at a certain point they’re backed into a corner. And in the gigantic world that Kirkman has given us, the writers have more room than they could ever hope for to make sure that they’re never backed up against a wall. So hold on tight to your old Walking Dead comics, and don’t stop buying them yet or wait on buying them assuming the market will be crashing. After all, Smallville made it ten seasons and that was with storylines that were more plodding and hole riddled than your average walker.