Last year, The Walking Dead shocked fans when it unexpectedly ended with Issue #193. The surprise conclusion, which readers only found out about when the issue dropped, was an example of the level of clout and influence co-creator and Image Comics partner Robert Kirkman has in the industry thanks to the success of the series. Now Kirkman is using that influence again to help comics retailers with yet another The Walking Dead surprise.
Image Comics announced Thursday that Kirkman and longtime The Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard are set to release Negan Lives, a special 36-page one-shot following the fan-favorite character's life after his last appearance in the series back in Issue #174. The special sequel one-off will hit comic book stores July 1, one year almost to the day after The Walking Dead #193 seemingly ended it all, and the issue will be shipped at no freight cost to retailers.
“While Charlie Adlard and I had laid the series to rest, this felt like something special we could do for the store owners who made our series a success to begin with," Kirkman said in a statement. "To that end, I'm happy to report that 100 percent of the revenue generated from this book will go to the stores selling it. The retailer community does backbreaking work to get comics into the hands of our loving fans, we should all be doing more in these trying times to show them how appreciated they are."
Comic book retailers around the country were heavily impacted by the shutdowns that came in March as the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread. Diamond Comics Distributors paused its service, limiting the release of new product, and as a result most major comics publishers simply stopped releasing new books for several weeks. In response, the comics industry began a series of fundraisers — many of them in the form of auctions for fans — to raise money for struggling retailers.
Now that many retailers are back open in some form and Diamond is shipping comics again, Kirkman and Adlard are hoping to use their command of one of the most popular comics of all time to infuse even more cash into the industry.
So if you're eager to see what happens next to one of the most infamous characters in 21st-century comics, and you want to help your local store at the same time, call up your retailer and tell them you want a copy of Negan Lives.