by Ashley Cotter-Cairns
The Walking Dead comic series is part of pop culture mostly because of the highly-rated television show on AMC. This has made Walking Dead #1 the most valuable comic book of the modern age, with record sales in five figures and climbing.
The show follows a plotline loosely based on Robert Kirkman's comic book series of the same name. But the momentum for this success came from Walking Dead comics, which began in 2003.
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The series is published by Image Comics, which is distinguished from other major imprints in allowing its writers to retain copyright of their intellectual property.
This arrangement has clearly benefited Kirkman, who works directly with AMC on the show version.
The comic series is distinguished by its black-and-white art (though of course plenty of comics do this), and by the fact that it follows an ever-revolving cast of characters through a world in which zombies have overrun most of civilization.
At the core of the cast of characters are former deputy Rick Grimes and his son, Carl; though battered and bruised (and occasionally maimed or dismembered), these tough characters manage to survive even the most violent encounters with both the undead and the cut-throat inhabitants of the new world.
Despite the grim and at times ultra-violent subject matter, the series has thrived, and the popularity of the show has fueled interest in the comics.
Here are key issues, and some guides to values. If you have The Walking Dead comic books you'd like to sell, then please send us images for appraisal. We'll give you a free valuation, and make a Dollar offer if you wish to sell.
Perhaps due to demand spurred by the show, the price of The Walking Dead comic #1 has skyrocketed.
Forbes.com reports that a copy sold late last year on Ebay for over $10,000. But for that price, the copy would have to be in perfect condition (9.9 CGC graded). See live prices below!
Published on October 8, 2003, the inaugural issue finds our protagonist, Rick, waking in a hospital after a gunshot wound from a shootout.
He has no knowledge that zombies have taken over, and no clue of the whereabouts of his wife, Lori, and his son.
Original copies of Walking Dead #19 can sell for as much as $600 in CGC 9.8 shape. No doubt the value of this comic is due to the introduction of one of the series' most intriguing characters, Michonne.
Michonne wields a katana, and arrives chained to two jawless zombies who serve her as camouflage.
She quickly distinguishes herself by saving the lives of members of Rick's group of survivors.
The episode is also of interest to Rick's character development. During a fight with zombies, Rick takes the opportunity to shoot Dexter, a potentially mutinous ex-convict. Rick passes the killing off as a friendly-fire incident.
Walking Dead #27 is another milestone issue in terms of introducing characters that galvanize the series.
The record sale for this comic in 9.9 CGC grade is over $1,700, which is astonishing for a modern comic.
It's not until near the end of the issue that we meet the Governor, who has asserted authority over a seemingly idyllic, picturesque town that has been recaptured from post-apocalyptic chaos.
From the outset, we know that this imposing figure has a dark side, as he tells Rick that he feeds unwanted visitors to zombies!
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#33 features Michonne and the Governer, who seem to represent polar opposites in the Walking Dead, between empowered femininity and masculine brutality. They disliked one another from the start.
The Governor drew first blood, but in issue The Walking Dead #33, Michonne gets a shot at revenge: among other things, she uses a drill to remove one of his eyes.
Copies of this milestone showdown are worth a reasonable price; however, the most valuable is the 2nd printing, 'blue cover' variant.
Those lucky enough to have this version could receive four times the price of the original printing in CGC 9.8 condition (circa $500 vs $125 for the 1st printing). See above for a comparison. Check prices here.
Walking Dead Comics #35: Nothing pivotal happens in this issue. Although, this is the Walking Dead, and you can at least say that there's something out of the ordinary in its depiction of Rick returning from time away from his wife and son missing a hand!
The regular printing is worth several dollars. The real news about this issue, though, is that the printers overlooked an error: the penultimate page of the story was printed twice.
The misprinted copies were recalled, and most were destroyed, resulting in a very rare version whose price is still being settled by the marketplace. Copies have changed hands recently for over $1,200.
This is perhaps the best-selling issue of the whole series, perhaps because it’s the first with deliberate variants.
There's a wrap-around cover version, but also a spectacular "superhero" cover by Erik Larsen and Ryan Ottley.
The Walking Dead comic #50:
1st edition wraparound cover
Walking Dead #50:
cool Superhero variant cover
This issue finds Rick and his group in a place known as the Alexandria Safe Zone, where they enjoy a greater degree of safety and stability than they've had thus far.
Rick isn't quite comfortable living under someone else's rules, though, and in this issue we see him nearly murder a rival leader.
There are three additional covers for this issue: a "Retailer Appreciation" version (the most valuable), along with a convention edition, and an Ultimate Comics edition of only 1,000 copies.
As a bonus, the comic has an alternate, 'fun' ending, involving an alien invasion and a cyborg Governer!
Issue 75 introduced a band of scavengers outside the gates of the community. In #78, we get a reminder that maintaining the Safe Zone requires the use of violence.
Attracted by an outburst of violence within the fences, the scavengers launch an attack. For his role in suppressing violence inside the community, and for massacring the attackers, Rick becomes the undisputed leader of the combined survivors.
The variant for this issue is the Long Beach Comic Con 2009 Exclusive Photo Cover.
This is a really cool photo cover of fan zombies, and it currently goes for $60.
Another impressive photo cover is available as a variant of #80, this time from the Amazing Arizona Comic Con 2011.
This issue features one of horror's favorite zombie phenomena: the zombie herd attack!
Of the later issues, this has one of the most valuable variants covers: a ComicsPro Black-and-White Variant, fetching about $200 in CGC 9.8 grade.
One of the most criticized aspects of the series is the way in which characters maintain their petty loves and hates in the midst of the biggest catastrophe known to man. But it's one of the most fun aspects, too!
With the zombie herd at the gates, Rick sparks a steamy romance with Jessie, a woman whose psychotic husband Rick previously shot to death.
Meanwhile a major character, Morgan, is bitten, which means that he is soon destined for the world of the living dead.
This issue has two additional variants. The "Infinity and Beyond" cover, worth $30, features zombies holding aloft a birthday cake decorated with finger-candles.
Some of the most memorable issues of the Walking Dead are those in the wake of major events. This one sees the survivors coping with the aftermath of the zombie herd.
Several characters, including Rick's recent lover, Jessie, have been killed or zombified. But we see the group adapting, and fortifying their camp.
Still in the wake of a major disaster, this issue is one of those that reflects on the day-to-day relationships of those who have managed to survive.
On a darker note, Rick has returned to a habit of communicating with his deceased wife, Lori, over a dead telephone line.
The variant cover for Walking Dead #87 is San Diego Comic Con, with a really creepy headshot of an aspiring fan zombie.
There are a couple of variants for this issue. The best one to have is the Fan Expo Canada cover, worth $60.
The other, by Lukas Ketner, portrays Rick standing completely alone and armed with an axe, in the middle of an endless trail of dismembered zombies. Check prices here.
Two Image Expo variants here, though one is a black-and-white "sketch" version of the other.
The regular Expo edition is worth around $82 in CGC 9.8, but the sketch edition, with a printing limited to just 200 copies, is currently trading hands at over $600!
The variant cover is another outlandish one, of Michonne seemingly being 'ravished' by a writhing mass of walkers.
Meanwhile, this issue is important, because it finds the survivors confirming the existence of another entire community, known as Hilltop.
There is also a ComicsPro variant of this The Walking Dead comic issue, worth around $50 mint.
This milestone issue of The Walking Dead comic does not disappoint for delivering intense drama. What this means, though, is the death of a major character (not revealed here, no spoilers!).
To make the package complete, there are plenty of variant versions. By now, you should have realized that the Walking Dead team loves variants.
Do you think 15 is enough variants? That's how many they developed for this issue. Quite a challenge for collectors!
The hottest is the Red Foil variant, going for $370. After that comes a really excellent black-and-white version of Ryan Ottley's variant: definitely a must-see, and worth $250.
Full list of The Walking Dead comic #100 variants: (click any link to see current market values)
Walking Dead #106: This fairly recent issue of The Walking Dead comic has a limited edition (2,000 copies) "Infinity and Beyond" variant by Charlie Adlard.
The issue itself finds things continuing to be action-packed. The survivors are under attack by another group of 'monsters', but this time the monsters are a group of brutal and ruthless humans who've decided to prey on others.
The appearance of the Saviors is yet another example of Kirkman continues to expand and populate his exciting world.
As The Walking Dead comic and TV show continues to grow in mainstream cultural popularity, it can only be good news for collectors of the comic books.
Time will tell whether the current speculation bubble will burst, but it shows no signs of slowing at the moment.
Send us images of your Walking Dead issues for free appraisal.
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