by Samantha Lambros
The differences between the graphic novel and the television adaptation of The Walking Dead are apparent right from the beginning when comparing the two. The pilot starts with a scene where the zombie outbreak has already been underway for quite some time and Rick is searching for supplies, whereas the graphic novel starts with the shootout that ultimately leads to Rick falling into a coma. The show depicts this through flashback scenes which it utilizes in almost every episode. The shootout is drastically different between the graphic novel and the show, as well. It is much more dramatic in the show, Rick has more officers to back him up, and there is also the tease of him initially getting shot in the bulletproof best followed by the actual gunshot that lands him to be in a coma.
The conversation between Rick and Shane about the differences between men and women which is used for character development, does not exist in the graphic novel. Instead, we are thrown right from the shootout to Rick waking up in a zombie-infested hospital. There are some minor details within the hospital scenes that differ from the graphic novel. For example, Rick finds a body in an elevator instead of merely seeing one decaying in the hallway. The door that says, “Don’t open, dead inside” in the show is still in the graphic novel, however without the warning and chains which results in Rick opening the door. Behind the door he finds an entire room full of zombies consuming, decaying flesh and they attack him. His escape from the hospital is also different, as there is no military equipment shows outside in the graphic novel.
The town itself looks to be in much worse condition in the comic than in the show. The streets are stark yet still undisturbed in the pilot, aside from the sporadic decaying body, and in the graphic novel the town looks like a war zone. Rick’s house is also in much better shape in the show, as it is depicted as a disaster in the novel.
The relationship between Morgan and Rick starts out slightly different in the show and the novel. There is no tension or suspicion on Morgan’s part when Rick awakens in the comic, however in the show he threatens Rick’s life and holds a knife to him, unsure as to whether or not he is infected. Rick also tells Morgan that he is a police officer later in the novel than he did in the show, and there is also no mention of Morgan’s wife being a zombie. Overall Morgan’s character is barely developed in the graphic novel compared to on the show, which is well developed. Through his character development on the show there is a bigger emotional investment for the viewer.
This may be due to the comparison being a comic book versus a television show, but the dialogue in the show is much more natural than the comic. Most of Rick’s lines in the book come across as very corny and matter-of-fact and just flow better in general on screen. Rick also gives Morgan his own police cruiser which doesn’t happen in the show. In the show, Morgan already has another vehicle and just takes the guns as a donation from Rick. They also make the wise decision not to shoot the unnamed zombie at the police station because the noise would attract others. The aforementioned unnamed zombie was given a character name as one of the fallen police officers in the show, however this was not the case in the novel.
While the pilot of the show ends with Rick making his way to Atlanta, the first issue of the graphic novel ends with Rick executing the decaying woman’s corpse crawling on the ground. This happened about 30 to 45 minutes into the first episode, while it is the last page of the graphic novel’s first issue. I believe the pilot gave a much better representation of whats to come in the series, and hooked the audience in more than this first issue would have. Details were lost from the adaptation, but also many were added that would have been too trivial to depict on a comic book page. Overall, I feel like the pilot was a more enthralling introduction to the series then the first graphic novel had been.