Surprise, surprise! Is it good or bad? That depends on the individual's point of view, but in something of a shock, The Walking Dead is coming to an end with issue #193, which officially hits stands this week. The zombie comic that kicked off 15 years ago from creator Robert Kirkman is coming to an unexpected end with an oversized, final issue. This concludes one of the most important and epic runs in comic book history.

The announcement was made by writer Robert Kirkman, who has penned every single issue of the series, and Image Comics, who publishes the highly popular title, on the eve of the book's release. They could have easily made a huge, heavily publicized deal about this being the end for The Walking Dead. Instead, Kirkman opted to just release the oversized 71-page story with little warning to readers that this was going to be it. Kirkman had this to say in a statement.

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"I'm upset, too. I'm going to miss it as much as you will, if not more so. It breaks my heart that I had to end it. and we have to move on,.. but I just love this world too much to stretch things out until it doesn't live up to what I want it to be. I hope you understand. I hope you. dear reader, know how much I appreciate the gift you have given me. I got to tell my story exactly how I wanted to, for 193 issues, and end it on my terms, with no interference at all along the way... at any point. That's such a rare thing, and it doesn't exist without the unyielding support this series got from readers like you. Thank you so much."

Robert Kirkman has become a busy man in the years since he first started this book. He has several other ongoing comic book titles that he's responsible for on a monthly basis. Not to mention all of the shows he's producing, convention appearances and other projects he has going on. So, aside from the fact that he didn't want to drag the story out, it makes sense for him to take this off of his plate.

In the year's since the publication of The Walking Dead #1 back in 2003, the zombie tale has become a huge staple in the pop culture landscape. AMC turned the comic book into a TV show back in 2010 and now, heading into its tenth season, it's still one of the most popular shows on cable. A spin-off, Fear the Walking Dead, as well as a third show, are also helping to expand the brand. Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson had this to say in a statement.

"For a monthly comic book to progress and change the way The Walking Dead has is completely unique, and what's more impressive is that it has done so for its entire 193-issue run without relaunching or rebooting. Robert Kirkman has told one story and told it well for over 15 years, and while most comics are based on the illusion of change, The Walking Dead has happened in real time, characters have aged from children to adults, they've lost limbs, they've lost eyes, they've lost family members and friends, they've died. Not 'died' in the nudge, nudge; wink, wink way that Superman, Captain America, and Wolverine 'died,' but in as real a manner as can happen in a fictional story. The series is concluding with the same finality and while that will no doubt be disappointing for some, in the big scheme of things, it's a remarkable achievement for Robert and his collaborators."

Many comic book shops are instituting a one copy policy in order to help prevent people from buying tons of issues just to turn around and sell them for a premium online. The Walking Dead #193 will be available via digital retailers as well as brick and mortar retailers. The issue comes just shortly after Rick Grimes was killed off in the comics. The character is still alive on the TV show and expected to get a trilogy of TV movies in the near future. It isn't mentioned if Rick's comic book death had anything to do with the ultimate demise of the comic itself. This news was previously reported by Bleeding Cool.