'Walking Dead': Will Negan's Backstory Be Explored?

Executive producer Robert Kirkman and star Jeffrey Dean Morgan talk with THR about adapting the 'Here's Negan' comic for the small screen.
Courtesy of Image Comics; Gene Page/AMC

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from The Walking Dead's "Here's Negan" spinoff comic story and the AMC series.]

Viewers on AMC's The Walking Dead have only just met Negan, the charismatic leader of the Saviors who killed Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), but comic book readers have known him since Issue 100 came out four years ago. And now, diehard comic readers are just finding out how he became the sociopath he is today.

Image Comics, publishers of Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead comic book series on which the AMC series is based, started telling "Here's Negan," a 48-page story detailing Negan's backstory in Image+, a monthly preview magazine.

The first issue debuted in April. Each chapter features four pages, with six published thus far. But those 24 pages reveal a whole lot about Negan.

(Warning: Spoilers to follow.)

Pre-apocalypse, Negan was married and worked as a high school coach with as colorful a vocabulary as he has in the ongoing Walking Dead pages. He soon finds out that his wife has cancer — and readers find out as much when Negan tells his mistress as much, who dumps him on the spot. Feeling guilty, Negan comes clean to his wife — who surprisingly is upset about the fact that he picked his dying wife over a healthy alternative.

As time passes and his wife is slipping away — kept alive only by machines — a doctor informs Negan that the hospital has been evacuated and he is encouraged to leave his dying wife in order to survive. Negan refuses and peers out the window to see the onset of the zombie apocalypse. (Funny how Negan and Rick both learn of the end of the world at the hospital.)

As Negan watches the world crumble from his hospital window, he is alarmed to hear his wife fall from her bed. When he turns to see her, she has died and turned into the undead. Shocked, Negan calls to his wife: "Lucille!" And just like that, the backstory about why Negan calls his barbed wire covered bat Lucille is explained.

Teary eyed that his wife is now among the undead, he kisses Lucille on the forehead and leaves her hospital room only to find a boy being attacked by two walkers who calls out to Negan for help. Rushing in to help, Negan is horrified when he has to kill the undead with a fire extinguisher. In return, Negan asks the boy to put down Lucille, as Negan just can't do it.  

So will Negan's backstory ever be adapted on the AMC series?

"It's not something we've really thought about," exec producer Kirkman tells THR. "That story works best when Negan has been around for many years. I'm not going to go on record to say that Negan lasts as long in the show as he does in the comic. You never know. But if we do get to that point, it'd be nice to see that story adapted. I love Jeffrey Dean Morgan with a burning fury of a thousand suns and I would love to see him tell that story and see the character go through those paces. It's a great way to get more context into who this guy is. It'd be neat but there are no plans as of yet."

For Morgan, who has been a diehard Walking Dead fan of both the comics and the show before he was cast as Negan, the opportunity to dig deeper into who the guy is something he is pushing hard to play.

"It's fascinating stuff and I'd love to do an episode following what Kirkman has written seeing Negan become Negan," Morgan told THR, noting that Kirkman sent him Here's Negan early."I'm fascinated to see the stuff with Negan's wife and all that but when he stepped out after the apocalypse, you see him trying to help people and protect them and save them. And when you're consistently not listening to him and dying, that gave birth to the Negan we see now who has a pretty strict set of rules and if you don't follow them, you get the iron and die. He was sick of seeing people die on his watch and I think that's a very interesting storyline. Who knows if there's that good guy in there somewhere?"

Of course there's one part of Negan's backstory that he's eager to see adapted sooner rather than later: How his bat Lucille got her name.

"I can't imagine us not sticking that in an episode with his backstory and I've mentioned a few times who the bat is named after. But I'd love to see that backstory in an episode, that would be awesome," he said.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC. For more Walking Dead coverage, bookmark THR.com/WalkingDead.

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