The Walking Dead has been a ratings juggernaut since its introduction to the TV masses in 2010. With a rabid fan-base, and viewing figures in the millions — the current average view is 14.40 million — the show regularly sets the stellar precedent for serial TV drama. With a well-received spin-off faring very well, and proving that zombies are “in” at the moment, it’s little surprise that AMC have have been mentioned in regards to the development of a third undead property — George Romero’s Empire of the Dead. But, are the rumors true?
Well, maybe — details are scarce at the moment. However, Empire of the Dead comic book artist Arthur Suydam revealed some tasty information at the Wizard World convention in Kentucky. Speaking to WHAS11, Suydam not only confirmed the show’s imminent development, but also revealed that AMC is the one behind the project.
“The series that I just finished up for Marvel Comics as a matter of fact, so this is me and George Romero … This just got signed to AMC. This is going to be the new big zombie series on AMC, it’s expected to be this one right here.”
AMC is yet to confirm any involvement, or clarify Suydam’s comments in any context, but this is nothing more than rumor at present. The journey from comic book to screen can be a lengthy, treacherous one, and nothing is guaranteed. Good news though: this isn’t the first time the topic has broken into the news — back in May, details dropped about the adaptation of Empire of the Dead, as reported by Cinema Blend. There’s definitely some cogs whirring somewhere. However, it’s a very exciting prospect for one major reason — George Romero.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past fifty years, George Romero is the man many claim is responsible for “inventing” the cinematic genre of zombies. Ushering in an untold terror with Night of the Living Dead in 1968, Romero changed the landscape of horror cinema forever with his gritty, unforgiving portrayal of the undead — corpses rising from the grave to feast on human flesh. Even now, Romero is still involved in zombie fiction of all kinds, which includes video games and comics, and has heavily influenced the genre with several defining movies.
Empire of the Dead is a 15-part series, which was published between January, 2014, and August, 2015, by Marvel. Set in the same universe as Romero’s earlier Dead movies, Empire takes place in a world where zombies, vampires, and humans reluctantly co-exist. For fans worrying about the obvious, no, the show would not interfere with The Walking Dead’s continuity. However, it should offer a fresh perspective on the genre, one that hasn’t been attempted before. Romero is reported to be co-writing the TV series with regular co-writer Peter Grunwald.
AMC is no stranger to trying something new. Many thought they were gambling on The Walking Dead before it became a cultural phenomenon. After all, who wants to watch a weekly show about zombies? Millions, as it now appears. However, the show isn’t so much about the shuffling undead — as much as they play a huge part — than the battle and daily struggles of the suffering human characters, and how they are more a threat to themselves than a horde of rotting, walking corpses. The human soul at the centre of the show is what makes it popular, and AMC realized this early on, but it’s also a trait that merges the show into their roster of successful, unprecedented shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and The Killing.
Will AMC add a third zombie drama to their line-up? The network has reaped the rewards since 2010, and it doesn’t look to be stopping any time soon. The show lights up the Internet on a weekly basis due to its unforgiving, yet unique, storytelling and, as long as it’s a commercial ratings success, any network would want more of the same. With two successful shows — The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead — under their belts, and the “king of zombies” himself, George Romero, on writing duties, maybe it’s time to take another gamble and make AMC the go-to channel for exemplary zombie drama.
Either way, the prospect of a George Romero TV series, produced from his original material, is a must-see for any zombie fan. And let’s not forget that Marvel published the comics; could they have a say in the final product? Worse things have happened.
[Image courtesy of Marvel Comics / Alex Maleev]