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The cat is out of the bag: Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead comic book series has come to an end with issue #193. In keeping with the tradition of unexpected deaths and plot turns, the general public was unaware of the series end until news started leaking yesterday. Skybound, Kirkman, and Charlie Adlard even went as far as releasing cover art for issues #194 and #195, which obviously aren't getting made.

Kirkman penned a multi-page letter in the final issue of The Walking Dead, saying that this is something that's been in the planning stages for a while, even though he doesn't want it to end:

“I’ll say it again, I love (loved… oh, god, I’m not ready for past tense) writing this series. I really don’t want it to end. In fact, I’ve been… kind of unsettled since I wrote the script for this issue. The whole thing just feels… weird... In a way, killing this series has been a lot like killing a major character. Much, much harder… but the same feeling. I don’t WANT to do it. I’d rather keep going… but the story is telling me what it wants and what it needs. This needs to happen. Whether I want it or not.” 

Robert Kirkman has been a master of subverting expectations, but, even if he didn't keep ending the series a surprise, he finishes The Walking Dead on a high note, delivering one of the most satisfying conclusions to a long-form series in any medium.

For years now, I've recommended The Walking Dead comic book series, not just to fans of the TV series, but to any horror and/or comic book series fan. Even if you didn't love the TV series, the comic book series is very much its own beast and worth your time. With the series reaching its end, it's the perfect time to pick up the 50-issue compendiums and catch up. I want to give a huge thanks and congratulations to Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Tony Moore, and the Skybound team for creating one of the best comic book series of all time!

Here's the official announcement from Image Comics regarding the series and reprint plans:

TODAY’S SHOCKING THE WALKING DEAD #193 ISSUE IMMEDIATELY RUSHED BACK TO PRINT

PORTLAND, Ore. 07/03/2019 — Image/Skybound is pleased to announce that THE WALKING DEAD #193 by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard—which hit shelves today and concluded the long-running comic book series—is being rushed back to print in order to keep up with customer demand as the news of the book’s contents goes viral.

This final chapter in the bestselling zombie saga was hinted at by the events of issue THE WALKING DEAD #192—but kept secret and surprise-dropped with fans today.

THE WALKING DEAD #193 2nd printing (Diamond Code MAY198901) will hit stores on Wednesday, July 31. The final order cutoff for comic shop retailers to get their orders in to restock this 80-page issue is Monday, July 8.

TODAY’S CONCLUSION TO LONG-RUNNING COMIC BOOK SERIES THE WALKING DEAD OFFERS READERS ONE FINAL, JAW-DROPPING CHAPTER

PORTLAND, Ore. 07/03/2019 — Image/Skybound’s long-running series THE WALKING DEAD by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard has come to its conclusion with today’s #193 issue.

This final chapter in the pop culture phenomenon was hinted at by the events of issue THE WALKING DEAD #192 and, according to Kirkman’s farewell letter at the end of the issue, has been planned and a longtime coming.

“I’ll say it again, I love (loved… oh, god, I’m not ready for past tense) writing this series. I really don’t want it to end. In fact, I’ve been… kind of unsettled since I wrote the script for this issue. The whole thing just feels… weird,” Kirkman wrote in the letter. “In a way, killing this series has been a lot like killing a major character. Much, much harder… but the same feeling. I don’t WANT to do it. I’d rather keep going… but the story is telling me what it wants and what it needs. This needs to happen. Whether I want it or not.”

Eric Stephenson, Publisher and Chief Creative Officer at Image Comics, added: "THE WALKING DEAD has always been full of twists, but one thing that has never been surprising is Robert Kirkman’s absolute commitment to telling the best story he could on his own terms. Other comic books traffic in the illusion of change, but Robert and his collaborators embraced actual change, so it’s only fitting that THE WALKING DEAD end by confronting the biggest change of all—a resolution to the story Robert began over 15 years ago. It’s testament not only to Robert’s and Charlie’s abilities that THE WALKING DEAD #193 is such a fitting farewell, but also to the possibilities available to anyone in the creative community when they are allowed to tell stories the way they want."

THE WALKING DEAD #193 is in stores today. Stop by your local comic shop to pick up the oversized issue and find out how it all ends.

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