The Walking Dead finale kicking off of a major comic arc again raises the question of whether AMC’s adaptation might overtake Robert Kirkman’s comics in due course. Kirkman has denied that AMC might ever reveal his ideas early, as Game of Thrones dealt with, and now Kirkman insists neither he nor showrunners would allow the series to catch up.

You’re warned of current Walking Dead spoilers from here on out, but The Walking Dead comic maintains a sizable lead over the AMC series. The events of Season 7’s finale roughly covered September 2013 Issue #114, whereas the books most recently published Issue #166. Still, the question remains whether AMC’s rendition might speed through the “All Out War” arc in Season 8, bringing them one step closer.

For his part, creator Robert Kirkman remains confident that The Walking Dead won’t suffer the same fate of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, which once had a good lead on its TV adaptation as well. Says Kirkman to The Hollywood Reporter:

I don’t know if anyone sat down to do the math, but if the show is gaining on the comic book, it’s at a very slow pace. We’re expanding storylines so every now and then we zip through the comic book, and then we slow down for a while and add a bunch of stuff that’s not in the comics. There’s not any danger of that happening in any way.

Math, you say? All right. AMC’s Walking Dead debuted in October 2010 (covering six issues in six episodes), at about the same time the comics published Issue #78. Season 2 expanded six issues at Hershel’s farm into thirteen episodes, while the prison arc lasted thirty-six issues, compared with twenty-four episodes (Seasons 3 to 4.5).

The famous Issue #100 (Negan’s debut) arrived in July 2012, a point the AMC series reached in October 2016. In seven years, the comics’ lead will have shrunk from seventy-seven issues to fifty-seven (assuming #172 arrives in October), meaning we’re likely at least a decade from the TV series arriving within striking distance.

Of course, the question remains how long The Walking Dead continues in either medium, as while Kirkman’s comics are predicated on a never-ending zombie apocalypse story, the AMC series is still subject to the constraints and rising costs of TV. AMC has projected anywhere from twelve to fifty seasons for its flagship hit, but the cast and story could look vastly different from the books by that point.

Either way, The Walking Dead will celebrate its own milestone with a 100th episodes this fall, so stay tuned for more on Season 8.

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