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The Walking Dead Creator Reflects on “Unrelentingly Brutal” Big Death

Warning: this story contains spoilers for The Walking Dead Deluxe #46, in stores Wednesday. In creator Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, some characters are Made to Suffer. Wednesday’s Issue #46 of the deluxe presentation, which reprints the Image Comics series in full color for the first time, continues from last month’s cliffhanger ending: with Tyreese captured by Woodbury. After leaving the prison with Michonne to go on the offensive against the retreating Governor, Tyreese dies when the Woodbury leader — wielding the missing Michonne’s katana — decapitates him over Rick’s refusal to open the prison gates.

In The Walking Dead Deluxe #46, first published in black and white in February 2008, Tyreese’s death unfolds over three pages — and for the first time, the bloody beheading is colorized by Dave McCaig.

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“Nowadays, that might be a 6-page sequence, maybe even 8… so when I was rereading this issue, I thought, ‘here it comes,’ and then… it’s over in THREE pages. THREE?! That’s nuts,” Kirkman continues. “And yeah, another writer might see this and say, ‘Yeah, three pages is the most you could squeeze out of that moment,’ and maybe they’re right.”

In the original printing of Walking Dead #46, Kirkman revealed the death of fan-favorite Tyreese was planned “almost since his introduction” in 2004’s issue #7.

“While some deaths in this series are very spur-of-the-moment actions that I try not to think through (because it makes things more spontaneous, like real life), Tyreese’s death has been planned almost since his introduction. It’s always been something I’ve known about and have been working toward,” Kirkman wrote at the time. “It will have great impact on the series and well, frankly… nobody lives forever in this book. Nobody.”

Kirkman added, “So these things will continue to happen for the duration of the series. Characters have to die… that’s just how the book works. So while I will miss Tyreese, I have the luxury of knowing what’s ahead for the rest of the crew in this book, and so I know things will be okay.”

Along with the standard cover by artist David Finch, Image Comics commemorated the death with a recolored version of Adlard’s original cover and variants by Paolo Rivera and Julian Totino Tedesco.

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