The Walking Dead star Jeffrey Dean Morgan reveals the reason he doesn't read the comics, even though he owns every issue. Morgan joined the cast of The Walking Dead in season 6 as Negan, the notorious comic book bad guy who leads the survivor group known as the Saviors. Negan immediately became a divisive figure among fans of the series after he brutally dispatched fan favorite characters Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) using his trusty barbed-wire baseball bat Lucille.
The ensuing war with Negan and the Saviors took up most of the action throughout seasons 7 and 8, during which time The Walking Dead took a major dip in the ratings. That war finally ended in season 8 when Rick (Andrew Lincoln) bested Negan, but instead of killing him, decided to lock him up. Season 9 began with Negan behind bars, seemingly ready to succumb to insanity, but after the show's second time-jump Negan saw a chance to escape and is now free to wreak havoc again.
Fans of the comic books may have some idea of what will happen now with Negan (even though the show has deviated more and more from the source material in recent seasons), but Morgan doesn't have that advantage himself as he's revealed he doesn't read the comics anymore. Morgan says he is a fan of the books, but made a very conscious decision to not dive into his collection and read the issues featuring his own character. Morgan explained his reasoning in a tweet, saying:
"I stopped reading after introduction. Wanted to form my own reactions. And also not fall in love with comic storylines and then not follow. I own them all. Gus reads. I will look at particular scenes if we film. But I'm saving them for when Negan is no more. Or the show ends...ha!"
With his decision to stop reading the Walking Dead comics after his own character's arrival, Morgan has missed out on a lot of story, much of which never made it into the TV series. Unlike TV Negan, the comic book character is allowed to swear constantly. The comic book version of Negan also has a much more precise backstory: He first learned the ways of intimidation and bullying as a high school coach, and later used those skills to become the leader of the Saviors. On the TV series, Negan's coaching background was only alluded to. The series did however go into some detail about the death of Negan's wife, the original Lucille, and how that affected him. Much of that part of the story is the same as in the comics.
As for what will happen with Negan going forward, that part of the story will be greatly altered from the comics. In the books, Negan escapes from prison but goes on to help Rick, Carl and the Alexandrians in their battle against the Whisperers. The TV show indeed finally introduced the Whisperers this week, and Negan did escape as in the books, but of course Rick and Carl are both gone. It's likely some version of the story of Negan fighting the Whisperers will make it into AMC's The Walking Dead, but how showrunner Angela Kang and company plan to make that happen with so many key characters missing is still a mystery.
Source: Jeffrey Dean Morgan/Twitter