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A Day with the Dead

By: Eric Brooks

 

In the summer of 2008, in search of the first issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, I made my way to A+ Comics here in Lexington. Russ, the proprietor, after having met my Buffy needs asked what sort of comics I was into. I said that I was generally into horror and sci/fi. Russ said he had something I might like and showed me a graphic novel with two registers of art on the cover, on of humans and the other of zombies. He put his hand over the living and said "You probably think it is about them" clearly showing the zombies. He then switched to cover the undead and said "actually it is about the living" as he exposed them. Eight years later I have abandoned Buffy but I still get my comics at A+ and I religiously read the other comic Russ showed me: The Walking Dead. In fact, I think I can safely say that I have become a devoted follower of all things Dead (see the article I wrote for B Movie Man on our trip to Georgia to visit the locations from the show).

Earlier this summer I began to see posts on Facebook about an event in Cynthiana, KY called Walking Dead Day. Given my preoccupation with things Dead, I was intrigued. One might wonder why a little town of 6,000 or so in the rolling bluegrass 30 miles north of Lexington might be having such a thing. The town is really only known for a few things. It is the home of a large Post It note factory and it is the hometown of legendary University of Kentucky men's basketball coach Joe B. Hall. It also happens to be the hometown of two young men who met at Harrison County High School. They discovered a mutual interest in comics and formed a friendship around it. Both found success in the field and eventually self published a title of their own creation: Battle Pope. Eventually one the young men came up with an idea for an ongoing zombie apocalypse tale and shopped it to Image Comics. They initially passed, No real hook. Horror comics don't sell. Not to worry said the young man. The zombies have been sent by aliens in advance of an invasion. Ah, said Image, aliens. Now that is a hook. We'll take it. 157 issues, 2 TV shows, and about a zillion toys later Robert Kirkman is a household name and so is The Walking Dead. And Image is still waiting on the aliens. Not that they are complaining mind you.

Apparently, someone in a position of authority got the idea to put up a sign on US 27 north of Cynthiana announcing it as the hometown of Robert Kirkman, the creator of The Walking Dead and Tony Moore the original artist. Having gotten state approval of the sign, they then decided to let Kirkman know of the honor he was receiving and extended an invite to be present for it. Not only did he accept, he said, "Hey, If I am going to come to Cynthiana, let's make a day of it." Thus, Walking Dead Day in Cynthiana was born. What started so simply became a major event in a matter of weeks. The organizers got both Moore and Kirkman on board to do signings and Kirkman also agreed to do a one hour Q&A. The organizers also got Skybound, Robert Kirkman's subsidiary of Image which now publishes the comic, to produce a special limited edition of issue 1 of The Walking Dead with an all new cover by Tony Moore showing Rick Grimes standing in the middle of Main Street in his hometown of Cynthiana (for those who are only fans of the TV show, Rick in the comics is from Kirkman's hometown and wakes up in the Harrison County Hospital). To add to the festivities the organizers arranged bus tours of sites in Cynthiana mentioned in the comic book, a costume contest, many vendors, and the unveiling of a huge mural of characters from the TV show.

 



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