Interview: Robert Kirkman talks about ‘The Walking Dead’, continuity, and ‘Atom Eve’

The creator of The Walking Dead, Invincible, and the all new Thief of Thieves, Robert Kirkman is among the busiest and most popular names in comic books. Oh yeah, and he’s also the executive producer of The Walking Dead TV series, so basically, Kirkman is the Prince of all things Un-Dead. Our Steven Sautter had the chance to speak with Kirkman at the Image Con going on now at the Oakland Convention Center in Oakland, California. During the interview, they talked about the show’s ability to match the Walking Dead comic’s dark tone, his role as protector of the comic’s message, the appeal of zombies, and the future of Invincible.

Because this interview is so very epic it will run in two parts, with one part here and the other part running over at VeryAware.com.

Have there been any instances on the Walking Dead show when you’ve had to jump in and stop the writers from getting too far away from the comics?

Robert Kirkman: I think that one of my main jobs on the Walking Dead show is to protect the show for the fans. I think that the fans of the comic book series have made the show possible. I think that the comic wouldn’t have become as popular as it’s become and would never have been made into a show if it wasn’t for them, and I think that I have to honor their devotion to the Walking Dead, which is a great thing that, you know, benefits me well and keeps my children fed.

So yeah, if they were suggesting anything that I thought was going to hurt the integrity of the Walking Dead, or something that would definitely piss off fans, I would step in. Luckily, I haven’t had to do that yet.

AMC TV

I think that everyone in the writers’ room, all of the producers – they’re doing the Walking Dead because they love it. You’ve got Scott Gimple and Angela Kang, who were reading the comic before the show ever started, and now they’re working on the show. You’ve got guys like Evan Reilly, who doesn’t give a shit about the comic (laughs). Still a cool guy, he loves it, I’m kidding. These guys read the comics more than I do, I’ll be honest with you, I write the comic and I go back and I read it and make sure I’ve got it straight, but these guys are reading it day in and day out, they go through and they read every month. Everyone loves and is devoted to the comic.

So they’re the continuity cops?

Kirkman: Exactly, to a certain extent I try to remember everything that happens but every now and then I forget something and we get into a big argument and I’m like, “That never happened!” and Scott Gimple is like, “What are you talking about?!” But yeah, if they ever were like, “What if there was a zombie that has super strength?” or, “What if Dale became a murdering psycho and started hacking people’s heads off?” Those are the kinds of things that would bump against what the comic has done, and I would definitely step in. Luckily I think that I have a relationship with all of those people. If I did ever have to do that, I think they would understand and they would listen to me. The show is in good hands.

Can the dark tone of the comic be matched on the TV series? Some of the stuff with the Governor was pretty intense; how far can you take that on TV?

Kirkman: There are certain boundaries for different mediums. I think that having the month long break between issue to issue or the 6 month break between volume to volume — you can push boundaries to a certain extent on a regular basis, more so than you can on a television show. So there might be instances where we go as dark as the comic in the show, but then we cut short and try to do something else and try to shift gears. People on a couch want to be entertained, they don’t want to be completely depressed. That said, we’re definitely going to go to those places.

There are some things coming up in the 3rd season that I can happily and proudly say exceed some of the darkest things that we’ve done in the comic. I think people are really going to be pretty shocked with a lot of stuff that’s coming. The show is gonna have teeth, the show is not going to be a watered down version of the Walking Dead [comic]. Seeing it thus far, you’ve got zombie autopsies, Sophia, and there is definitely a lot of dark stuff going on in the show, and it’ll continue.

Image Comics, Walking Dead #91

Is there a character you regret killing off in the Walking Dead comic, Invincible, or any of your other titles? 

Kirkman: To a certain extent, I regret killing every character that I’ve killed. I wish I could still write Rex Splode, I wish I could still write stories with Axel and Tyrese. There’s all kinds of characters that I regret not being able to write. In the other sense, I don’t regret it because every time I’ve killed a character it’s been for the good of the story. I feel it’s led to interesting stories after that. It gives the book more impact.

Image Comics

Is there any hope for another Atom Eve mini-series?

Kirkman: Absolutely, yeah, you know she’s a very interesting character. I think those miniseries were cool. But yeah, there’s not any plan right now. But while I don’t like doing… I’m never goona do a spin-off of the Walking Dead, because the way that concept works, I don’t think it would benefit from having separate stories. I think that Invincible being a super hero comic, I love the idea of there being spin-offs every now and then and stories that kind of focus on individual characters. Atom Eve is definitely at the top of that list.

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Be sure to check out the other part of this two part interview over at VeryAware.com here.

Steven Sautter

Written by (@bohemboy)

Steven Sautter is a punk ass book jockey. He looks quite dashing in a frock coat. His work has appeared in The Terrible Zodin, I'll Explain Later and the fiction anthology, Red Phone Box. He has experienced profound moments with cephalopods. More »

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