The Walking Dead comic has been around for over a decade now. The behemoth series has yielded over a whopping 156 issues so far, and of course, shambled into alternate mediums with seven seasons of the Walking Dead show. But according to Kirkman, at one point the comic was going to be a lot shorter than it currently is.

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Speaking at Comic-Con this past weekend, Kirkman discussed his plans to end the comic series—or, more specifically, how his plans to bring the series to an eventual close have mutated as the book has progressed (and gotten more and more popular). But the interesting thing isn’t the fact that Kirkman’s thoughts about how to bring Walking Dead to a close have changed again. It’s what he says immediately after that:

The end has changed. There was one version that would have had it ending as soon as everybody reached Alexandria.

While fans of the TV show have only really seen the events of Rick’s group in the Alexandria Safe-Zone during the last season or so, that happened a long time ago for comic-readers. If Kirkman is being literal, his original plan would’ve seen the comic end as the survivors reach Alexandria in The Walking Dead #69 which was released in January 2010. That’s just about halfway into the comic’s current life—before Negan, the comic’s most infamous villain, ever showed up, before the death of major characters like Glenn (at Negan’s hand in the 100th issue), before the book’s major timeskip.

The final page of The Walking Dead #69. Art by Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn.

It’s interesting, because it would’ve been an uncharacteristically optimistic ending for the series. The final pages of Walking Dead #69 see Rick gleaming as he sees what’s beyond Alexandria’s gate for the first time, a chance for normality and safety—a place to call home after years of barely surviving the apocalypse. It’s a moment in the comics that you could actually describe as happy and filled with hope—a rare thing in the infamously grim world of The Walking Dead. And, you can see why Kirkman would’ve thought it’d make a good ending for the series.

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Clearly, plans have changed. While in the current comics, years later, Rick and his crew are still living in Alexandria having weathered Negan’s assaults and developed a wider community of survivors, it will be interesting to see if Kirkman’s current plans for The Walking Dead’s ending are still as optimistic as his original one.

[Comic Book Resources]