Actor Michael Rooker says he is pleased but still amazed that his TV show 'The Walking Dead' has established such a strong following among Americans of all ages, and he says behind the thriller plot and the blood and gore, the program is about family, and the bonds we all share.

  Rooker played the dead, we think, character Merle Dixon on the super hot TV show.

  "When Merle goes to do battle with the Governor's men, he is there to kill as many as possible so his brother can have a better chance of surviving," Rooker told News Radio 1200 WOAI ahead of his appearance at Wizard World Comic-Con at the Convention Center this weekend.

  Rooker says he had no idea that 'The Walking Dead' would become of the hottest shows on television.

  "Whenever you're doing a film or TV, you are so close to it and you are so involved, it is really hard to determine whether something is going to hit or not," he said.  "The Walking Dead is just the same.  We were working really hard, you got your fingers crossed all the time.  But nobody really knew, so when it happened, it was quite a lovely surprise for everybody involved."

  "The Walking Dead," like so many hits today, got its start as a comic book and Rooker says the creativity of comic books and graphic novels can finally be mined for the source they are, due largely to advances in computer generated effects.

  "We can do it now, we can really make this stuff look really cool and quite real, and when you put a good story behind it, and actors who are of quality, generallyyou're going to come out with a great product, and people are going to love it."

  Rooker says he remains amazed at the love engendered by his sometimes good, sometimes evil character Merle, who died at the end of the last season of 'The Walking Dead' and he joked that he's pleased that he'll be able to watch the next season 'as a fan.'

  "There are going to be people who come up to me this weekend and are almost weeping at times," he said.  "They got it.  They got what the writers were trying to do.  It's that commitment to family and the commitment to the love of your brother.  It's there and it is quite apparent."

  Rooker will be in San Antonio when his new movie, "Guardians of the Galaxy," which is also based on a graphic novel, premieres on Friday.

  "This genre is continue to grow and grow," he said. "I had never done a video before, for example.  It's the same with 'The Walking Dead' and 'Guardians of the Galaxy.'  I play a character who was one of the original guardians when the comic book began in 1969.  It blows my mind.  I am quite happy and satisfied doing this kind of work."

  He said he and other Wizard World people will attend the premiere on Friday in San Antonio.

  "We'll have an evening of this, and we'll have our own special premiere.  It'll be great."