In anticipation of The Walking Dead season 2 being unveiled on DVD and Blu-ray later this month, several of the series' major behind-the-scenes featurettes have been released for anxious fans to sink their teeth into. While Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead comic books and executive producer of the show, has already spoken at length about the process of adapting a beloved graphic novel into a 13-episode-season TV series, it's always good to hear him talk a little more about it.
On the DVD will be a featurette titled 'The Ink Alive,' which focuses on the major differences between the TV show and the comic books, and also the major connections viewers can draw between the two. While we can't provide the full featurette, we can break down some of Kirkman's major points about season 2. It goes without saying that spoilers are ahead.
Any fan of the graphic novels will know that the series tends to deviate heavily from events in the book, but also tries to preserve the spirit of specific key moments like Hershel's farm and, in this upcoming season, the prison. As with any good adaptation, it's all about balancing fan expectation while at the same time creating a compelling piece of episodic television. In some cases that means taking liberties on how the show chooses to tell its story.
Robert Kirkman explains:
"There are things that happen in the comic that you absolutely have to put in the show, otherwise you're not doing the comic justice. But maybe we move it up, maybe we move it back, we add different characters into the mix. We just do little adjustments to make it a little more compelling for the audience that is invested in the source material."
One of the biggest deviations in The Walking Dead season 2 – as compared to the comic book – is the presence of Shane. Viewers of the second season already know what tragedy befell Shane, but in the comics that "event" is much different, and takes place much earlier, as far as the overarching storyline is concerned.
In the show, Kirkman was able to take Shane's descent into madness and his coming to be at odds with Rick (Andrew Lincoln), and do much more with that. The end result is still the same, but it gives audience members a better chance to witness this character's transformation.
"To have that extra little notch. That's a cool byproduct of really smart writers being able to look at that material and go, 'Hey good job Robert, now let's do this.'"
Keeping Shane alive for much longer, however, spun off its own new storylines, and even led to one of the bigger deviations between the TV series and the comics: the death of Dale. In the comics, as Kirkman points out, Dale goes on to have a relationship with Andrea, but in the series, because Shane is still around and Dale is suspicious of Shane, Dale is snuffed out much earlier.
It was a moment in the series that upset fans immensely, but Kirkman thinks that fan enthusiasm is "cool."
Another major point of contention in the second season was the focus on finding Sophia. The plotline occupied much of the first half of The Walking Dead season 2 (it was wrapped up during the show's midseason finale), and even led to many fans wondering if the show's writers had lost steam.
Kirkman feels differently, as he likes that the search for Sophia and the discovery of her whereabouts greatly impacted so many of the show's characters. He wouldn't have had the writers do it any other way:
"To not do that story simply because I didn’t think of it when I was writing the comic, or because I did the comic a little differently is absurd to me. Staying true to that stuff is great when it's necessary, but there are so many great ideas thrown around in the writers' room that you just have to do that stuff. And I think it makes the show that much better."
And finally, since it's right around the corner, Kirkman talks about what fans can hope for in season 3. When we last left the group, several characters were at major turning points, and the entire show was moving closer to one of the graphic novel's most iconic locations. It was exactly what the series needed to bring fans back on board, and Kirkman knows it:
"The most important stories over the life of the comic book series start when they find that prison. Comic book fans know now we're really getting to the good stuff. Now we're going to see Michonne, we're probably going to see the Governor, we're going to see Woodbury, we're going to see all of these different things that people know and love from the comic book and they know is on the horizon just some from seeing that image at the end of the second season."
Wherever season 3 takes us, it's promising to be worthwhile television that Walking Dead fans and non-fans should enjoy. AMC's series has already snagged some pretty important casting – that of Michonne and the Governor – which once again tells us they are on the right track.
The Walking Dead season 3 premieres October 14, 2012 on AMC.