Where Do I Start With The Walking Dead Comic?

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Where Do I Start With The Walking Dead?

If you had never read, watched or played The Walking Dead the best way I could describe it to you would be is that it is “the zombie movie that never ends.” With the comic currently sitting at 106 issues and no end in sight, that definition is quite accurate. But where does one start with a series that has run for so long? I will tell you in a moment, but first I what discuss makes the series so good.

Like any good zombie fiction, the zombies become the less immediate threat after time. The story becomes less about zombies and more about the aftermath of what the zombies have cause. The Walking Dead is no different. The Walking Dead is a tale of survival in a post-apocalyptic world in which all that you know is now gone, taken over by zombies. With all the luxuries that you once took for granted gone, the world is a very different place. In a world of survival, it has also become a dark and dangerous place where characters will go beyond their limits and morals for survival. The Walking Dead is very character driven, where you see the characters change through their experiences and after a while they become someone entirely, some even quite savage. Especially the protagonist, Rick, whose moral code is rocked when he struggles come to terms with the violence he has to partake in, as well as if it is right or wrong to kill – even in the harsh world they live in.

The Walking Dead comic. Image Comics zombies Karl by Charlie Adlard.

Writer, Robert Kirkman is a master of the page-turn reveal, with a turn of a page revealing something shocking that has you wanting more. They are perfectly crafted and can often push a story in unexpected directions. Also, you have no idea who is going to die. The fact that no one is safe raises the stakes of the narrative in ways that other comics just cannot do. As a result many of the characters at the beginning of the series are no long present today.

Some people might be turned off the art as it is all in greyscale but I believe that it really fits the tone of the grim story and world that is being presented. The first 6 issues the art duties are done by Tony Moore, who afterwards left the series (although continued to do cover art until issue 24). Continuing on from him is the current artist, Charlie Adlard, who recently celebrated his 100th issue on the title. It does take a little of time to get used to the change in art style but you will get used to it and after while you wont notice it.

So what is the best place to start with the Walking Dead? I suggest from the very start, as the series is structured like an ongoing film.

As for the format you read it in you have plenty of options…

The Walking Dead trade paperback vol. 1 cover by Tony Moore. Image Comics, Robert Kirkman. Image Comics

Trade Paperback Collections

First there is the trade paperbacks which collect roughly 6 issues in each. Continue with the first and work you way up. Here are the list of all trade paperbacks for the Walking Dead currently in print…

  • The Walking Dead Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye – issues #1 – #6
  • The Walking Dead Vol. 2: Miles Behind Us – issues #7 – #12
  • The Walking Dead Vol. 3: Safety Behind Bars – issues #13 – #18
  • The Walking Dead Vol. 4: The Heart’s Desire – issues #19 – #24
  • The Walking Dead Vol. 5: The Best Defence – issues #25 – #30
  • The Walking Dead Vol. 6: This Sorrowful Life – issues #31 – #36
  • The Walking Dead Vol. 7: The Calm Before – issues #37 – #42
  • The Walking Dead Vol. 8: Made To Suffer – issues #43 – #48
  • The Walking Dead Vol. 9: Here We Remain – issues #49 – #54
  • The Walking Dead Vol. 10: What We Become – issues #55 – #60
  • The Walking Dead Vol. 11: Fear the Hunters – issues #61 – #66
  • The Walking Dead Vol. 12: Life Among Them – issues #67 – #72
  • The Walking Dead Vol. 13: Too Far Gone – issues #73 – #78
  • The Walking Dead Vol. 14: No Way Out – issues #79 – #84
  • The Walking Dead Survivors’ Guide – collecting The Walking Dead Survivors’ Guide #1 – #4
  • The Walking Dead Vol. 15: We Find Ourselves – issues #85 – #90
  • The Walking Dead Vol. 16: A Larger World – issues #91 – #96
  • The Walking Dead Vol. 17: Something To Fear – issues #97 – #102
  • The Walking Dead Vol. 18: Abandon All Hope – issues #103 – #108
  • The Walking Dead Vol. 19: March To War – issues #109 – #114
  • The Walking Dead Vol. 20: All Out War – Part One – issues #115 – #120
  • The Walking Dead Vol. 21: All Out War – Part Two – issues #121-126
  • The Walking Dead Vol. 22: A New Beginning – issues #127-132
  • The Walking Dead Vol. 23: Whispers Into Screams – issues #133 – #138
  • The Walking Dead Vol. 24: Life And Death – issues #139 – #144
  • The Walking Dead Vol. 25: No Turning Back – issues #145 – #150
  • The Walking Dead Vol. 26: Call To Arms – issues #151 – #156
  • The Waling Dead Vol. 27: The Whisperer War – issues #157-162

The Walking Dead Book One - Zombies. Robert Kirkman. Image Comics

Hardcover Collections

There are also Hardcover editions which look nicer on your bookshelf, are slightly larger in size and collect much more material.

  • The Walking Dead: Book One – issues #1 – #12
  • The Walking Dead: Book Two – issues #13 – #24
  • The Walking Dead: Book Three – issues #25 – #36
  • The Walking Dead: Book Four – issues #37 – #48
  • The Walking Dead: Book Five – issues #49 – #60
  • The Walking Dead: Book Six – issues #61 – #72
  • The Walking Dead: Book Seven – issues #73 – #84
  • The Walking Dead: Book Eight – issues #85 – #96
  • The Walking Dead: Book Nine – issues #97 – #108
  • The Walking Dead: Book Ten – issues #109 – #120
  • The Walking Dead: Book Eleven – issues #121 – #132
  • The Walking Dead: Book Twelve – issues #133 – #144

Walking Dead Omnibus. Zombies. Robert Kirkman, Image Comics

Omnibus Collections

And of course there is the even larger edition, these collect 24 issues each and have a lovely slipcase.

  • The Walking Dead: Volume 1 Deluxe HC – issues #1 – #24
  • The Walking Dead: Volume 2 Deluxe HC – issues #25 – #48
  • The Walking Dead: Volume 3 Deluxe HC – issues #49 – #72
  • The Walking Dead: Volume 4 Deluxe HC – issues #73 – #96
  • The Walking Dead: Volume 5 Deluxe HC – issues #97 – #120
  • The Walking Dead: Volume 6 Deluxe HC – issues #121 – #144

The Walking Dead Compendium cover by Charlie Adlard.

Compendiums

And finally there is the Compendium editions which are huge!

  • The Walking Dead: Compendium One – #1 – #48 and the 6 page story from the Image Comics Holiday Special 2005.
  • The Walking Dead: Compendium Two – #49 – #96
  • The Walking Dead: Compendium Three – #97 – #144

Additionally The Walking Dead will be translated into Spanish with volume 1 available in September 2013.

The Walking Dead: The Alien cover by Marcos Martin.

Spin-Off Comic

There has been one spin-off story set in the world of of the comic which was part of the Panel Syndicate website.

The Walking Dead: The Alien
Written by Brian K Vaughan and Art by Marcos Marin.

I talk about this in greater detail in a recent review.

Novels

If you want to dig even further into the Walking Dead there are also spin-off novels, which fill in the gaps of the series. Most of it details the rise and fall The Governor, fleshing out the character. Currently there are three novels available.

Tips for Reading The Walking Dead

I would not recommend trying to track down every single issue as it would be an incredibly hard and expensive exercise. Especially the earlier issues which had an extremely low print run and fetch a very high price today. Although, I there should be no issue if you read through all the trade paperbacks and then jump on to the single issues, which is a popular practice around the time of a trade paperback release.

If you are unsure if you will like the comic you can always try the first issue for free.

My final tip with the Walking Dead is to realise that the TV show differs from the comic book in a lot of ways. Sometimes this is due to budget (especially with season 2), other times they just make more sense to be changed for the context of TV.

Where Can I Buy The Walking Dead Comics?

The Walking Dead comics can be found at any good comic book store, book stores, digitally on Comixology, the Image Comics website, Google Play and Kindle.

With all this hopefully this will allow you to begin the comic series and see what all the comic book fans are talking about. Feel free to ask any questions below in the comments or get in touch with me via Twitter or Facebook.

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Trevor Van As

Trevor Van As is the founder of How to Love Comics and has loved comics all his life. When he's not reading or talking about comics he can be found eating frozen yogurt and dancing like no one is watching.

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Comments (27)

  • I just bought issue 149 but the bar code says 149 0 0. Usually it would say 149 1 1. Do you know what that means? My worry is that I bought a reprint and not an original.

  • I just want to say a big Thank you Trevor! I was completely confused as to the differences between the ‘volumes’ all the way up to the compendiums. Of course, at the book store, all but the volumes are sealed so you can’t rifle through to see what is included in each different item. It is good to know that they contain the same content, just the number of volumes is different (basically). This gives me a great place to start my gifting of the collection to my daughter!

  • I’m confused . I’m wanting to buy the comic collection as a gift but not sure where to find it or where to start . I keep getting things like compendium or volume . Not sure what to choose.

    • Hi Hanna, great question. The best place to start with The Walking Dead us from the very start. The comic has become very popular and as a result it has come out in different formats, each collect the same content but some collect more than others. For example the first volume collects the first 6 issues of the comic, while the compendium collects the first 48. Which one you decide to go for will depend how much you ultimately want to spend or if you want to have a good binge read. You can find the collections online at stores such Amazon/Barnes and Noble or other large retailers. Alternatively, any good comic book stores will stick them. You can find your closest at http://www.comicshoplocator.com

      I hope this helps!

  • I’m up to date with the tv show and want to start reading the comics. However, since the comics are so far ahead of the show, I want to know where the comic meets the show (until the end of season 6) so I can read it without having anything spoiled for me?

  • I have a few questions, I have seen in previous comments that the compendiums seem to be the best root to go. I have never read comics before really but LOVE the walking dead. Do the compendiums come with original comic artwork? What is the difference between compendiums and the omnibus? Where can I buy hardcover or limited editions of the compendiums?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Jessica, great question. The Compendiums are essentially 48 issues of The Walking Dead minus the covers, letters pages and things like that. So essentially it’s cover cover story ?

      The omnibuses are generally more limited and smaller. They’re for if you want something really special to have on your shelf if that makes sense.

      The compendiums can be found at any good comic book store (find one near you here: http://www.comicshoplocator.com), any book store with a decent graphic novels section or online stores such as Amazon.

      If you check the comic I would love to know what you think of it ?

  • Do all the reprints that cover multiple issues (hardback, compendium, etc) have all the same content the original comics have? I mean, are they word for word?

    • They essentially are, but in most cases don’t include covers or letters pages but all the story is the same. The only difference could be if they fixed any typos that were missed in the initial publication.

  • I am beginning to read The Walking Dead graphic novels as well as the regular novels. It is recommended that the first regular novel, “The Rise of the Governor,” should be read after issue #48. When should the remaining 2 regular novels be read in relation to the other issues? Thank you for your help.

    • Hi Donna, I haven’t read the novels but from the blurbs online it looks like you can read them straight after the first novel.

  • Great job.Love the show and thought I need to read the comics. I’m reading Compendium one right now and I am at Volume 5 The Best Defense. Love the comic even more then the show. My question is: I will be reading the Governor books after Issue 48 like you said, but is there a part two to the Fall of the Governor?

  • Thank you so very much! I have both compendiums and watch the tv shows… But thought I lost something in “translation” with the Governor .I have felt very lost , your website helped! But is Gareth and Terminus in the comics?

    • Hi! I’m glad you have found this helpful ? This is one of those instances where the TV show deviates from the comic and Gareth and Terminus are both creations of the TV show.

  • Thank you! I finally decided to dip a toe in to the TV show while home recovering from knee surgery. Walking dead is crack. Swear to god, I got itchy when I finished the free shows. (Granted, that was the day the bandage came off, so I was itchy for a few days before that, too.

    Now I need the source material. Omnibuses, and compendiums and single-issues; oh, my.

    Thank you. 🙂

    • Hey Terri,

      If you’re looking to gobble up large amounts of the comic I highly recommended investing in the compendiums. They’re a good price per issue and perfect for binging on.

    • Hi Johnny, the covers are generally not included with the volumes or compendiums. I assume this is to keep printing entirely greyscale.