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The Walking Dead officially ending this week in final issue #193

Robert Kirkman’s long-running horror comic is coming to an unexpected end.

In a move that has shocked the comic book community, writer Robert Kirkman has concluded The Walking Dead comics this week with issue #193. This comes in the aftermath of Rick Grimes being killed off in a traumatic event that spanned out across the previous two issues, #191 and #192.

The 15-year saga often saw humanity at its worse in a post-apocalyptic zombie filled world, but fans saw it as comics at its best. The Eisner award winning series spawned its own video game, the AMC television series The Walking Dead — which premiered in 2010 — a companion television series Fear the Walking Dead, and various other media publications, including a web series and several novels.

At the end of The Walking Dead #193, Kirkman confirms the issue will be the last Walking Dead comic and explains to fans in an essay as to why he did not prepare them with any sort of hints or warnings to the series impending conclusion.

“I hate knowing what’s coming,” Kirkman wrote in the issue’s final pages. “As a fan, I hate it when I realize I’m in the third act of a movie and the story is winding down. I hate that I can count commercial breaks and know I’m nearing the end of a TV show. I hate that you can feel when you’re getting to the end of a book, or a graphic novel. Some of the best episodes of Game of Thronesare when they’re structured in such a way and paced to perfection so your brain can’t tell if it’s been watching for 15 minutes or 50 minutes … and when the end comes … you’re stunned.”

“I love long movies for that very reason,” he continued. “You lose track of time because you went in convinced that you’re going to be there for a long time, but the story moves at such an entertaining and engaging pace that by the time the movie’s wrapping up … you can’t believe it’s already over. Surprise, it’s over! All I’ve ever done, all a creator can really do … is tailor-make stories to entertain themselves, and hope the audience feels the same way. That’s all I’ve ever been doing … and it seems to work most of the time.”

The Walking Dead has always been built on surprise,” he concluded. “Not knowing what’s going to happen when you turn the page, who’s going to die, how they’re going to die… it’s been essential to the success of this series. It’s been the lifeblood that’s been keeping it going all these years, keeping people engaged. It just felt wrong and against the very nature of this series not to make the actual end as surprising as all the big deaths … from Shane all the way to Rick.”

First published in October 2003, the series was originally pitched as a follow up to George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, that would take place in the 1960s. Image Comics co-founder Jim Valentino convinced Kirkman to use an original idea so the creators could own the series outright. The revised pitch became The Walking Dead.

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