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The Walking Dead comic. Image Comics zombies Karl

Where Do I Start Reading The Walking Dead Comic?

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With the TV series ending, it’s never been a better time to start reading The Walking Dead comic. This guide will let you know the best way to start reading, explain the different collected formats and spin-offs, and answer many of your questions along the way.

Why you should read The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead doesn’t do anything groundbreaking with its interpretation of zombies. However, it does an excellent job with this horror subgenre and the characters.

While the zombies are always present, The Walking Dead becomes less about their threat over time and more about the post-apocalyptic world and the people who inhabit it. It becomes character-driven, showing what Rick and others are willing to do to survive not only the walkers but the worst in humankind as well. Characters have to come to terms with the harsh violence they’re forced to partake in and are often conflicted between survival and their morals.

Writer Robert Kirkman is the master of the page-turn reveal. Just when you thought everything would be okay for the characters, you turn the page to have something shocking revealed. They’re perfectly crafted and can often push a story in unexpected directions.

Artists Tony Moore (who did the first 6 issues) and Charlie Adlard (who began with issue #7) are great fits for The Walking Dead. Their greyscale art, while different, fits well with the tone and world of the series, presenting a grim outcome.

How does the comic and TV series differ?

While the comic and the TV show have many similarities, they also have many differences. Much of this comes from translating an ongoing comic series into a seasonal television show. Creative and budgetary decisions means that the AMC series would often deviate from the source material in it’s own way, with it’s closeness fluctuating a lot over its run.

TV fans coming to the comic for the first time will see plenty of familiar elements but it will also be fresh too as events play out differently.

The Walking Dead #1 cover by Tony Moore.
The Walking Dead #1 cover by Tony Moore.

Where to start reading The Walking Dead

It might sound obvious, but the best place to start read The Walking Dead is from the very beginning with The Walking Dead #1.

While you could start with a later issue, the benefit from starting with issue #1 is seeing the Rick and other character evolve over time with their experiences.

If you’d like to sample the series before investing time and money into it, you can read The Walking Dead #1 for free on the Image Comics website.

Where Can I Buy The Walking Dead Comics?

The Walking dead comics and collected editions can be found at good comic book shops, online stores, and digitally on Comixology/Kindle and Google Play.

How to read The Walking Dead

While the Walking Dead was originally serialised in single issues between 2003 and 2019, the best way to read it is in a collected format. There are two reasons for this:

  1. The early issues had a very low print run and are very hard to find and are very expensive.
  2. The Walking Dead is a comic that’s very easy to binge-read. Having it in a collected format makes it easy to do that.

Check out the next section to find out more about the different collected editions available.

Collected Editions

The Walking Dead is available in a range of different collected formats to suit different budgets and reading habits. Read on below to find out about each of them.

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

Trade Paperback Collections

First, there are the trade paperbacks which collect roughly 6 issues in each.

The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone Bye
Collects:
The Walking Dead #1-6

The Walking Dead Volume 2: Miles Behind Us
Collects: The Walking Dead #7-12

The Walking Dead Volume 3: Safety Behind Bars
Collects: The Walking Dead #13-18

The Walking Dead Volume 4: The Heart’s Desire
Collects: The Walking Dead #19-24

The Walking Dead Volume 5: The Best Defence
Collects: The Walking Dead #25-30

The Walking Dead Volume 6: This Sorrowful Life
Collects: The Walking Dead #31-36

The Walking Dead Volume 7: The Calm Before
Collects: The Walking Dead #37-42

The Walking Dead Volume 8: Made To Suffer
Collects: The Walking Dead #43-48

The Walking Dead Volume 9: Here We Remain
Collects: The Walking Dead #49-54

The Walking Dead Volume 10: What We Become
Collects: The Walking Dead #55-60

The Walking Dead Volume 11: Fear the Hunters
Collects: The Walking Dead #61-66

The Walking Dead Volume 12: Life Among Them
Collects: The Walking Dead #67-72

The Walking Dead Volume 13: Too Far Gone
Collects: The Walking Dead #73-78

The Walking Dead Volume 14: No Way Out
Collects: The Walking Dead #79-84

The Walking Dead Survivors’ Guide
Collects: The Walking Dead Survivors’ Guide #1-4

The Walking Dead Volume 15: We Find Ourselves
Collects: The Walking Dead #85-90

The Walking Dead Volume 16: A Larger World
Collects: The Walking Dead #91-96

The Walking Dead Volume 17: Something To Fear
Collects: The Walking Dead #97-102

The Walking Dead Volume 18: Abandon All Hope
Collects: The Walking Dead #103-108

The Walking Dead Volume 19: March To War
Collects: The Walking Dead #109-114

The Walking Dead Volume 20: All Out War – Part One
Collects: The Walking Dead #115-120

The Walking Dead Volume 21: All Out War – Part Two
Collects: The Walking Dead #121-126

The Walking Dead Volume 22: A New Beginning
Collects: The Walking Dead #127-132

The Walking Dead Volume 23: Whispers Into Screams
Collects: The Walking Dead #133-138

The Walking Dead Volume 24: Life And Death
Collects: The Walking Dead #139-144

The Walking Dead Volume 25: No Turning Back
Collects: The Walking Dead #145-150

The Walking Dead Volume 26: Call To Arms
Collects: The Walking Dead #151-156

The Walking Dead Volume 27: The Whisperer War
Collects: The Walking Dead #157-162

The Walking Dead Volume 28: A Certain Doom
Collects: The Walking Dead #163-168

The Walking Dead Volume 29: Lines We Cross
Collects: The Walking Dead #169-174

The Walking Dead Volume 30: New World Order
Collects: The Walking Dead #175-180

The Walking Dead Volume 31: The Rotten Core
Collects: The Walking Dead #181-186

The Walking Dead Volume 32: Rest In Peace (FINAL VOLUME)
Collects: The Walking Dead #187-193

Buy The Walking Dead trade paperbacks on:

The Walking Dead Book One - Zombies. Robert Kirkman. Image Comics
The Walking Dead Hardcover Book 1 cover by Charlie Adlard.

Hardcover Collections

The hardcover editions are slightly larger in dimension and collect twice as much material as the trade paperbacks. They also look great on the shelf.

The Walking Dead Book One
Collects: The Walking Dead #1-12

The Walking Dead Book Two
Collects: The Walking Dead #13-24

The Walking Dead Book Three
Collects: The Walking Dead #25-36

The Walking Dead Book Four
Collects: The Walking Dead #37-48

The Walking Dead Book Five
Collects: The Walking Dead #49-60

The Walking Dead Book Six
Collects: The Walking Dead #61-72

The Walking Dead Book Seven
Collects: The Walking Dead #73-84

The Walking Dead Book Eight
Collects: The Walking Dead #85-96

The Walking Dead Book Nine
Collects: The Walking Dead #97-108

The Walking Dead Book Ten
Collects: The Walking Dead #109-120

The Walking Dead Book Eleven
Collects: The Walking Dead #121-132

The Walking Dead Book Twelve
Collects: The Walking Dead #133-144

The Walking Dead Book Thirteen
Collects: The Walking Dead #145-156

The Walking Dead Book Fourteen
Collects: The Walking Dead #157-168

The Walking Dead Book Fifteen
Collects: The Walking Dead #169-180

The Walking Dead Book Sixteen (FINAL VOLUME)
Collects: The Walking Dead #181-193

The Walking Dead Omnibus Volume 1 cover by Charlie Adlard.
The Walking Dead Omnibus Volume 1 cover by Charlie Adlard.

Omnibus Collections

Going even bigger is the omnibus collections. These are heavy slip-cased hardcovers, which collect 24 issues each. These had a limited print run and are now hard to come by.

The Walking Dead Omnibus Volume 1
Collects: The Walking Dead #1-24

The Walking Dead Omnibus Volume 2
Collects: The Walking Dead #25-48

The Walking Dead Omnibus Volume 3
Collects: The Walking Dead #49-72

The Walking Dead Omnibus Volume 4
Collects: The Walking Dead #73-96

The Walking Dead Omnibus Volume 5
Collects: The Walking Dead #97-120

The Walking Dead Omnibus Volume 6
Collects: The Walking Dead #121-144

The Walking Dead Omnibus Volume 7
Collects: The Walking Dead #145-168

The Walking Dead Omnibus Volume 8 (FINAL VOLUME)
Collects: The Walking Dead #169-193

The Walking Dead Compendium cover by Charlie Adlard.
The Walking Dead Compendium One cover by Charlie Adlard.

Compendiums

The final edition available is the compendiums. These softcover editions which collect a whopping 48 issues. That’s a lot of comics!

The Walking Dead Compendium One
Collects:
The Walking Dead #1-48 and the 6-page story from the Image Comics Holiday Special 2005

The Walking Dead Compendium Two
Collects: The Walking Dead #49-96

The Walking Dead Compendium Three
Collects: The Walking Dead #97-144

The Walking Dead Compendium Four (FINAL VOLUME)
Collects: The Walking Dead #145-193

Buy The Walking Dead Compendiums on:

The Walking Dead: The Alien cover by Marcos Martin.
The Walking Dead: The Alien cover by Marcos Martin.

Walking Dead Spin-Offs

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

The Walking Dead: The Alien was originally published as part of the Panel Syndicate website. It has seen been published in a hardcover collection. I talk about this in greater detail in this review.

Here’s Negan
Written by Robert Kirkman and art by Charlie Adlard.

Originally serialised in Image+ Magazine, this story explores Negan’s origins. It has been collected in a hardcover collection.

Negan Lives!
Written by Robert Kirkman. Art by Charlie Adlard.

This is a one-shot that follows Negan after events of The Walking Dead #174.

Rick Grimes 2000
Written by Robert Kirkman. Art by Ryan Ottley.

Originally serialised in Sybound X #1-5, Rick Grimes 2000 is a dream sequence set during The Walking Dead #75. In it, the zombie apocalypse happens to be a precursor to an alien invasion. It’s made to be a joke but also mirrors the original pitch of the comic.

Clementine: Book One cover by Tillie Walden.
Clementine: Book One cover by Tillie Walden.

Clementine Graphic Novels

If you have played the Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead, the video game set in the world of the comic book series, then you’ll be familiar with the character Clementine. Well, she has made it to the comic page in her own graphic novels. See below for all the details.

Clementine Lives
Written and art by Tillie Walden.

Clementine Lives is a short story that appeared in Skybound X #1 in 2021. It acts as a bridge between her video game appearances and the upcoming graphic novels.

Clementine: Book One
Written and art by Tillie Walden.

This is the first of a trilogy of graphic novels starring Clementine. Book One will be released 28th of June, 2022.

Clementine: Book Two
Written and art by Tillie Walden.

The second graphic novel in the trilogy. No release date has been announced yet.

Clementine: Book Three
Written and art by Tillie Walden.

The second graphic novel in the trilogy. No release date has been announced yet.

What is The Walking Dead Weekly?

The Walking Dead Weekly reprinted the first 52 issues of the comic book series. As the title suggests, these were released weekly in comic book stores throughout 2011. They do not have any special content in them, just the comic book story.

What is The Walking Dead Deluxe?

The Walking Dead Deluxe is a special reprint series of the comic that includes colour instead of the original grey-scale. This will be coming out monthly from October 2020, starting with issue #1.

The Walking Dead Deluxe began in October 2020, with two issues being released each month. At the moment, it appears that these coloured reprints will not be collected in any other format.

The Walking Dead 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.

Feel free to ask any questions below in the comments or get in touch with me via Twitter or Facebook.

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Comments (32)

  • hey, so I know that the tv series are quite inacurrete but Im planing on getting the compendium versions and I would still like to know until what season do each compendium cover,

    THANKS 😀

  • Hi, I’ve been collecting the comics for some time now. Could you tell me why some of the early issues say weekly in the title and others don’t! For instance I have 2 first print No 10 comics, one is signed by Kirkman and Adlard and the heading says-The Walking Dead, with the issue no. and price on the right hand side, then the other no. 10 says The Walking Dead Weekly with the issue no. and price on the usual left hand side??????

    • Hey Lee, great question! When the Walking Dead was originally released, it had a very low print run. No one knew what it was and there hadn’t been any critical buzz around it. When the TV show hit, there was a big demand for the comic but those early issues were hard to find. To make it easier the first 52 issues of The Walking Dead were reprinted as a weekly series throughout 2011. It’s essentially the same comic, just with the slight change in branding.

  • 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’m going to say that it is just a printing error. I couldn’t find any reference to a second printing online.

  • 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’m aware things are different, but are there any serious spoilers? (except who negan kills-I know about that) Thanks

    • Hey David, Neagan appears in The a Walking Dead #100 – which is where the TV show us roughly up to.

  • 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.

  • Is there a walking dead book after the walking dead descent that continues with lilly, bob, and the others?

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

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