Sunday, 25 January 2015

Image Firsts: The Walking Dead #1 - Image Comics

There isn’t really much more that can be said about the comic book phenomenon “The Walking Dead”, a zombie apocalypse series, printed in black and white, and created by Robert Kirkland and Tony Moore. Its first issue was published in 2003 and only had a print run of just 7,300 copies. As a result, such is the magazine’s scarcity and the franchise’s popularity, that a single mint edition can fetch $10,000; at least that was the price tag of a 9.9 graded Certified Guaranty Company issue in 2012.

Fortunately, because of its astounding popularity, “Image Comics” have since made the book available again under its “Image Firsts” label; a $1 reprinting of the first issues of some of its best-selling titles which has been designed to allow unfamiliar readers to try out “a variety of new series without feeling the effects on their wallet.” So now more than ever there is no excuse not to take those first tentative steps through the corridors and wards of Harrison Memorial Hospital with officer Rick Grimes…

And a very personal trip it is too as Kirkland quickly creates a connection between the reader and the man ‘just looking for his wife and kid’. Whether injured in a shoot-out, wandering through deserted and derelict streets or hopelessly searching his marital home, absolutely nothing happens in this first issue without the cop being present and us sharing his confusion, anguish and fear.

Another clever writing technique employed by the “Image Comics” partner is to not actually feature that many zombies in the story. Indeed, even when Grimes inadvertently blunders into the hospital cafeteria, a place filled to the rafters with the living dead, it is only really one of the walking corpses which causes the disorientated policeman any real danger… and so goes the rest of the officer’s ghoulish encounters, whether it be the putrefying cyclist or the ‘walker’ outside the police station. Both confrontations are unnerving but not especially dangerous. Instead the storyline is all about people, their behaviour and reactions to one another, and how, together, they will face the horrifically changed landscape of the world around them.

Fortunately American comic book artist Tony Moore does a superb job of capturing all this emotion with some stunning pencil work, such as when a distraught Grimes breaks down having just taken a gurgling zombie’s pushbike. In addition, in this modern age of colour, the inker’s brave use of just gray tones, nobly assisted by Cliff Rathburn, really helps capture the sombre mood of the weird world the officer has woken up into. It makes everything all that more depressing and wearisome, and emphasises the survivors sense of hopelessness at the possible prospect of having to now just survive living day by day, hour by hour.
Creator, Writer and Letterer: Robert Kirkman, and Artist: Tony Moore


  1. This is a must have series for any zombie fan. I could have subscribed to the comic from issue 1 but decided not to. Instead I buy the six-issue graphic novels and have all that have been published so far. Seeing how much issue 1 of the comic is selling for I do wish I'd bought the comics instead. Oh well, that's hindsight!

    1. Oh dear Bryan. Those first 6 issues are certainly highly sought after now. Indeed #2 is even rarer as it had a smaller print run and ended up only selling 6,067 copies in 2003. Though to be fair, when the likes of "Batman", "Spider-Man" and the "X-Men" were all selling 90,000+ per month who was really going to be paying much attention to such a small b&w comic. As you say, hindsight is such a wonderful thing :-)

  2. Wow interesting facts. Nice read.

    1. Many thanks Simon. I'm a big comic book collector as you may have gathered, as I find them a tremendous source of inspiration for my painting/gaming. I also find it fascinating just how much some of these issues can go for. Hopefully you will too. Thanks for following :-)