Volume 5, Issue 46
“An Open Letter to AMC”
I’m writing this to you as a fan. Whether you know it or not, your network is the gateway to people getting into comic books. I’ve lost count over how many people have walked into Jetpack Comics and asked for Walking Dead trades because they watch your show. But now that you’ve started the seventh season, I have to ask: why are you still resorting to cheap gimmicks? You know you don’t need to do that right? I mean, you guys beat Sunday Night Football last year. SUNDAY. NIGHT. FOOTBALL. That’s freaking unheard of. No show has ever done that.
I get it though, you’ve become a major pop culture phenomenon, and now you’re worried about losing viewers. But here’s a secret: that’s gonna happen no matter what. Sure, you can point to Breaking Bad, which gained viewers as it went on, but your critical darling of a show also had the benefit of knowing to finish after five seasons, which now that I think about it, is probably one of the reasons why it gained viewers in its final season. But we all know Walking Dead isn’t ending any time soon, especially since it’s one of the few hit shows you have on your network now that Mad Men and Breaking Bad are over.
Let me put it this way: for a long time the joke between people about The Walking Dead was “no one is safe….except for Rick, Daryl, Carl, and Michonne”. But as the show continued, that’s started to go from being a funny joke to reality for your viewers. There’s no sense of danger anymore for our lead characters. Every character that’s been on your show for some time now has die-hard fans, and you naturally don’t want to piss those fans off. However, that puts you in a tough spot story wise. The Walking Dead comic series is known for the near constant changing status quo. It’s a series that is completely different from the one that it started out as. You can see character arcs and changes over the 150+ issues, and there’s a real sense of tragedy whenever a fan favorite character dies. Now I know that dealing with real flesh and blood actors and their contracts throws some variations into the mix, but I really feel like you need to take a look at your storytelling and start making the tough calls.
Yes, you can say “but we killed Abraham AND Glenn in the season premiere”! And to that I say, “yes you did, but those deaths was expected”. Hell, even if people didn’t know Glenn or Abraham’s fates in the comic, Glenn’s was hinted at hardcore last season when you made the idiotic decision to pretend that he was dead. If you had the guts to kill say, Daryl Dixon, then I’d be more inclined to go along with your story decisions. But the fact that you picked a character that was dead by this point in the comic and the one who dies at the hand of Negan shows that you took the easy way out.
Bringing up Glenn reminds me of your gimmicks, which have become a bigger problem on the show in the last two years than the zombies. I’m honestly not sure why you and show runner Scott Gimple resorted to leaving us at the cliffhanger that you did for this summer. I mean, knowing what we know now about the premiere, you could’ve given us one of the deaths at the end of season 6, and then saved the second death as a surprise for the premiere. Were contracts still be negotiated? Did you guys really think people wouldn’t mind being teased? I find that very hard to believe, but perhaps you are in the same vacuum that Chris Hardwick is in during Talking Dead, where every reaction on the Internet is all sunshine and lollipops.
Like I said earlier, your show is serving as the entry point for comic books for a lot of people. I don’t think you understand how important that is to someone like me. I’ve been waiting almost my whole life for comic books to be treated with the respect they deserve, and we’re now finally at that point, and a lot of that is largely due to The Walking Dead. And while I’ve been frustrated with a lot of your decisions, I will admit that Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan has brought a new spark to the show, and will keep me watching until at least the midseason break. But I worry that your success will become your downfall. Don’t be afraid to still take risks. It’ll piss some people off, but it’ll also keep them guessing.