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About this journal

This journal by @StephenWA provides a review of iconic The Walking Dead issues, starting with #1 from October 2003, #100 from 2012, and an identification and analysis of the TWD rarities. In its first section, it includes analysis of the original two covers plus 267 other reprint and variant covers (which are all listed below) over 20 years and its prowess in the CGC Registry and in the re-sale market. It also highlights the all time "Top 10" comics by number of variant covers. With 269 different covers on its English language editions, where will TWD #1 feature on this list?


The photograph shows the first The Walking Dead (TWD) comic, issue #1, from October 2003. This is the comic that spawned the complete franchise of TV shows, theme park rides, collector cards and so on. There are also a number of TV spin-offs produced and pending (Tales of the Walking Dead, Dead City, Daryl Dixon, Rick and Michonne). The comic provides the first character appearances of:

• Rick Grimes 
• Shane Walsh 
• Morgan Jones 
• Morgan's son, Duane Jones (his first and last appearance)

Robert Kirkman - creator, writer
Tony Moore - co-creator, cover and interior art

Cover price $2.95.


1 - CGC9.8 Front.jpg


Story summary:

Rick and Shane are cops. Rick gets shot while on duty. He wakes up in an abandoned hospital not knowing anything of the zombie apocalypse. As he makes his way back to his house to check on his family, he runs into Morgan Jones and his son Duane. Duane whacks Rick in the face with a shovel thinking that he's a zombie. When Rick comes around, Morgan explains "the dead" (called "Walkers" in the TV show). He equips himself at his old police station to continue his search for his wife, Lori and his son, Carl. He arrives in Atlanta on horse, before being surrounded by the dead.  In the TV show which follows (2010), he is surrounded while hiding inside a tank.


The CGC census as at 28 January 2023 shows 3523 graded copies, including 26 graded at 9.9 and 1145 graded at 9.8. You can read more about the 9.9s hereThe census reveals that there are 2967 Universal and 470 in Signature Series

The print run on this comic was small. Of the 7,266 copies of the comic said to have been printed, by 1/2023, 3523 had been graded by CGC. This represents an amazing 48.5% of the whole run (although it is widely thought that there may be some counted twice i.e. slabs cracked and re-submitted after pressing or for Signature Series). Most of those graded are in grade 9.0 or higher. The lowest graded copy is graded 0.5 (1 of). The highest graded copies on the census are 9.9 (23 Universal, and 3 Signature Series). There are no Gem/10 copies.

Publication summary

This #1 comic was published (and republished) in five broad periods:

  • First issues 2003-2008 (3 cover variants)
  • Image Firsts 2010-2022 (8 print variants)
  • TWD Weekly 2011 (2 cover variants)
  • Anniversary and Convention editions 2013-2019 (2013 = 16, 2014 = 10, 2015 = 49, 2016 = 1, 2017 = 2, 2018 = 162, 2019 = 1 / TOTAL = 241 cover variants)
  • Walking Dead Deluxe 2020 (15 cover variants)

Cover variations

There were two (slightly) different covers on the original 2003 first printing, although these are not shown separately in the CGC Registry. The first has 'MATURE READERS' in black ink in a block on the cover (under the price box), and the second has this same text presented in white - shown in the header and in the photograph above. There are many rumours as to why these are different. The most-common is that the black ones were a printing error (black printed over white), noted and corrected to white over black later in the print run. The black is widely-thought to be the rarer of the two. There is a article in the CGC Forums which suggests that the black one comprises, with 95% confidence, 13-23% of those graded in the census. I have examples of both in my own collection.

After these first two, the original comic has been re-issued a staggering 267 different covers in the English language*:

  • Special Edition #1 (May 2008)
  • Image Firsts (8 dated editions: 3/2010, 9/2010, 4/2011, 12/2012, 4/2014, 11/2015, 3/2017 and 5/2022)
  • Walking Dead Weekly #1, and Arizona Comic Convention variant (2011)
  • Wizard World editions - 64 versions comprising 34 with colour covers and 30 with sketch covers (2013 = 14, 2014 = 4, 2015 = 46)
  • 10th Anniversary Edition, and Convention Edition (2013)
  • Image Expo, and Image Expo Sketch Editions (Nick Dragota cover, January 2014)
  • Escape, and Escape Sketch Editions (April 2014)
  • Special Anniversary / Black Friday Edition (April 2014)
  • Hyundai Edition (April 2014)
  • Skybound 5th Anniversary Editions (Colour, Sketch and Blue Sketch, July 2015)
  • Cynthiana Edition (June 2016)
  • Diamond Previews / SDCC (2017)
  • go! Calendar Club Edition (2017)
  • 15th Anniversary Blind Bag Editions - Colour 1A, Colour Virgin 1B, Sketch 1C and Sketch Virgin 1D** (October 2018)
  • 15th Anniversary Retailer cover, and 157 Store Variant Covers*** (October 2018)
  • The Last Wine Variant (2019, with Chris Burnham cover) - these seem to be very rare. According to my contact at publisher Skybound "[These] were promo items for the company that we did the TWD wine with. They gave them out to shops that carried the wine.... the wine company sent the promo copies out to local wine distributors in CA, CO, GA, KY, OH, IL, LA, OK, TX, SC and WA. I believe the distributors would then send the books to their accounts that would carry the wine".
  • Walking Dead Deluxe - 1A Finch and McCaig, 1B Moore and McCaig, 1C Adlard, 1D Tedesco, 1E Adams, 1F Blank, Finch Gold Foil (2 versions - one with, and one without, a rear-cover barcode/otherwise identical - they are not shown separately in the CGC Registry), Finch Red Foil, Finch Black Foil and Finch Sketch Cover / Comics Vault Live exclusive (October 2020), Second Printing cover A Finch, Second Printing cover B Finch raw, Second Printing Gold Foil Edition, Second Printing Red Foil Edition.

* = There are also numerous foreign language editions of this comic, re-prints and variants, including those published in Argentina (Ovni Press), France (Delcourt Comics), Italy (Salda Press), Mexico (Kamite), Peru (Editora Vuk), Serbia (Lavirinu) and Sweden (Apart Forlag). NB: I am working with CGC to add these international sets to the Registry.

** = There were no 1:100 "Hidden" editions of comic 1. The hidden editions were 19, 48, 98, 100 and 108

*** = I was instrumental in validating and correcting the CGC Registry to show the correct listing of the store variants through my communications with former Registry administrator Mollie Davies.


Other comics with multiple covers:

According to my research, the Top 10 comics - in the traditional reverse order - with multiple numbers of different/variant covers is shown below.

10th: US Avengers #1 (2017), 64 different covers

9th: Harley Quinn #1 (2016), 79 different covers

8th: Star Wars #1 (2015), 85 different covers

7th: Detective Comics #1000, 86 different covers

6th: Vampirella #1 (2019), 89 different covers

5th: Dark Knight III, The Master Race #1 (2016), 91 different covers

=3rd: Godzilla: Kingdon of Monsters #1 (2011), 104 different covers

=3rd: Batman #50 (2016), 104 different covers

2nd: Amazing Spider-Man #666, 145 different covers (including 141 comic shop variants)

And the winner, the Global 1st position: The Walking Dead #1 (2003) now with a total of 269 reprint and variant covers as described.

Sales summary:

As noted, you could have bought the comic from your local comic store in October 2003 for $2.95. The comic has climbed steadily in value, particularly since 2010 when the TV show debuted. The highest recorded price for a 9.8 is thought to be $3250.00 (of course, the value of private sales is just that - private). According to sellmycomicbooks.com, the 2015 average price for a 9.8 was $2075. The 2016 average price for a 9.8 was $2467. In 2017, a copy sold for $3051 in 9.8 The highest recent sales were $2300 for a 9.8 and $1450 for a 9.6 in December 2018.

In March 2016, a CGC 9.9 copy of the 2003 original comic sold on eBay for a staggering $22,825. Two copies sold in autumn 2020 for $12,000 and $15,000.

As at the end of May 2020, sales this year of #1 Universal 9.8 (from GPA, in order) have been $2000, $1920, $1800, $1900, $1820, $1698 and $1750. By spring 2021, #1 9.8s were selling regularly over $3000 again.

Back in 2014, the single copy graded at 0.5 sold on eBay for $756. 


Entries in this journal

The Walking Dead - An Inventory of Rarities

Following my journal openers which covered The Walking Dead #1 and #100, this entry covers the rarest TWD issues of all. While TWD comic #163 had a print run of over 730,000 comics, there were ten issues produced with fewer than 250 copies. The link to my list (below) identifies those ten comics as well as the other rare issues which include the TWD S cript Book and #2 First Printing which were the lowest-selling of the original issues. Please click here to see my inventory:  The inve



The Walking Dead by Image - Issue #100

Following my journal opener which covered The Walking Dead #1, this entry covers the issue with the second-most variant covers (20) in this series - #100. The Walking Dead (TWD) issue #100 (July 2012) shipped with a total of 20 variant covers and had a total order of 379,000 copies. This made it the largest selling single comic of the 2010s decade, the #2 highest ordered comic of the 21st Century so far, and the #1 comic of the century for Image Comics. A special chromium wrap-around cover