"I HATE IT when the movies end," writer Robert Kirkman said about zombie movies a few years ago in The Comics Journal. It makes sense, then, that ever since it began in 2003, Kirkman's grim, black-and-white series The Walking Dead—illustrated first by Tony Moore and then by Charlie Adlard, with graytones by Cliff Rathburn—has served as a ongoing post-apocalyptic saga. While most zombie movies end with terrified human survivors escaping the undead hordes, The Walking Dead looks at what happens the day after that. And the day after that. And the day after that.

If you've been watching Mad Men on AMC, you've seen the ads: On Halloween, The Walking Dead will make the jump to TV, with a series overseen by frequent Stephen King adaptor Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Mist). For those looking for a way to familiarize themselves with the comics, it's hard not to recommend last year's The Walking Dead: Compendium One, a $60, 1,088-page doorstopper that collects the series' first 48 issues; as an added bonus, the thing's heavy enough to serve as a zombie-bludgeoning tool.

In the Compendium, with the issues blurred together—there's no indication where one monthly installment ends and another begins—many of the series' worst aspects (stretches where not much happens, thin characterization) are lessened, and while Kirkman's sometimes-stilted dialogue remains, the story as a whole remains impressively epic, bleak, and addictive. Here's hoping the show will iron out the comics' flaws, while keeping the things about it that've kept readers coming back for the better part of a decade.