Set in modern-day Georgia after a zombie apocalypse,The Walking Dead is a comic book and television series. The success of both formats marks The Walking Dead as a significant contributor to the renaissance of the zombie genre during the early twenty-first century.
Writer Robert Kirkman and artist Tony Moore created The Walking Dead as a black-and-white comic book series for the independent publisher Image Comics in 2003. Charlie Adlard took over as artist in issue 7, with Cliff Rathburn and Rus Wooton as colorist and letterer, respectively. The story centers on Kentucky police officer Rick Grimes, who is shot on duty and wakes up in a hospital to find that the world has succumbed to a zombie apocalypse. He travels to Atlanta, where he finds his family encamped with a group of survivors. The continuing narrative follows Rick and the others as they struggle to endure among the zombies (whom they refer to as “walkers”) and what remains of humanity in Georgia locations both real and fictional. The plot of The Walking Dead differs from previous works in the zombie horror genre in that it focuses more on the conflicts faced by the human characters than on the zombies themselves.
Since its debut, The Walking Dead has enjoyed both critical and commercial success. The comic book’s popularity has steadily increased, particularly after the premiere of the television series. By 2012 it had become the best-selling independent comic book series. In particular, issue 100 was the top-selling comic book of 2012, and issue 115 led all comic book sales in 2013. Collections of the comic and its accompanying novels regularly top the New York Times best-seller list. In 2010 The Walking Dead won the Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series at the Comic-Con International convention in San Diego, California. The award is largely considered to be the comic book industry’s highest honor.
The Walking Dead television series premiered on the American Movie Classics (AMC) network on October 31, 2010, with Frank Darabont and Gale Anne Hurd serving as executive producers. The ensemble cast includes Andrew Lincoln, Melissa McBride, Norman Reedus, and Steven Yeun, along with Georgia natives Kennedy Brice, Travis Love, Chandler Riggs, IronE Singleton, and Scott Wilson. The show shares a similar plotline with the comic book but also features a number of unique characters and stories. Robert Kirkman serves as both an executive producer and writer for the show while maintaining his work on the comic book series.
The show is filmed primarily in Georgia and has been a vital contributor to the state’s burgeoning film industry. The makers of The Walking Dead utilize the beautiful landscapes and rural townships of Georgia to convey the isolation of a world abandoned by humanity. Filming locations have included Atlanta, in Fulton County; Grantville, Haralson, Newnan, Senoia, and Sharpsburg, all in Coweta County; Griffin, in Spalding County; Hampton, in Henry County; Milner, in Lamar County; Peachtree City, in Fayette County; and Zebulon, in Pike County. Additionally, the show employs cast and crew from Georgia, including hundreds of zombie extras, and has spurred fan tourism to the state.
The show is hugely popular with viewers, who made it the most-watched series on basic cable television in 2012 as well as the most-watched show among television viewers aged 18 to 49, a rare feat for a cable television series. The season four premiere of The Walking Dead in 2013 was the most-watched non-sports cable event to date. The success of the television series has spawned a companion talk show (The Talking Dead), video games, board games, books, and action figures.
In 2013 AMC announced that it was developing a Walking Dead companion series that would follow another group of zombie apocalypse survivors in a different part of the country.