Robert Kirkman talks Walking Dead
As The Walking Dead comic book approaches a century of issues, and Season 2 of the hit television show it spawned hits the screens, creator Robert Kirkman talks to CLiNT about his zombie spectacular! Later, Kirkman tells us about the process of writing Thief Of Thieves, the comic book he is launching in February 2012 with Nick Spencer.
What can viewers expect from the new Season, and what’s getting you most excited?
Really just opening up the world, really. That, I think, will be the coolest part of Season 2. There are some pretty great new zombies and new things done with zombies and that’s going to be neat. There are some new characters thrown into the mix here and there, which I’m excited about. But the coolest thing is that we get out of Atlanta and go into more rural territory... it’s going to be a completely different, more spooky, woodsy type setting, which is always good for horror.
Although the series is following its own arcs and detours, is there anything you’re especially looking forward to seeing realised on screen? Obviously the Governor makes for a memorable recurring villain, and the katana-wielding Michonne is as much a fan-favourite as Rick at this point. Should we expect to see them this year?
The Governor, Woodbury and Michonne are definitely at the top of my list, and I really can’t wait to see Abraham, too--I really like that character. But mostly, my wish list is silly things like Carl getting Rick’s hat, and little moments like that... and in most cases, we’ll get there.
How many episodes are you writing in Season 2? Do you find yourself taking a different approach when you’re writing for the screen, or is an episode for television like four 22-page issues, each ending on the commercial break?
I don’t think an episode holds the content of four issues of a comic... maybe two, sometimes just one. But it’s really a different kind of storytelling and it doesn’t translate really, at all. Frankly, I’ve been kind of thrown into the mix of things. I’ve never written for TV before and this is very much a learning experience for me. The wording that is used in TV scripts is very different from how I write comics, which really is basically like writing casual emails to my artists, “Draw this, Charlie, put this here.... Rick’s saying this, maybe looking sad, whatever.” So I’ve had to adjust things quite a bit and I must say, new show-runner Glen Mazzara, has really been great in showing me exactly how I need to be writing and helping me get up to speed. I’m writing one and a half episodes this season.
The escape from the CDC in ‘TS-19’ at the end of the first Season seemed to be one of the few things fans of the show didn’t universally praise. Is there a pressure in television to go bigger, visually – to have on-screen explosions as well as internal, character-based ones?
That was something Frank wanted to do. I supported him in it, because I thought it was a good idea. It veers wildly from the comic and really sets the show apart in a big way. But that’s a cool thing, I think. It was definitely a new environment for the characters and added to the overall story in some very important ways. That said, the plan was always to use the comic series as a path that we veer off from time to time, and in Season 2, at no point do we veer that far off the path. Season 2 follows the comic series more closely... there are quite a few surprises in store for comic fans, but I’m confident they will love them all. Season 2 is going to be kind of awesome.
Obviously it was a shock to have Frank Darabont leave as showrunner. Do you think the show is going to be different with him no longer overseeing it, or have the tone and direction been established so thoroughly that it’s just a case of living up to that example?
Well, myself, Glen Mazzara and the other writers on the show have been working side-by-side with Frank during this entire season and we’ve contributed a lot to the show in that time. So while Frank is gone, I don’t think people watching the show will notice a transition. Frank has established an amazing foundation for this show, and if anything, I’d say the show will only grow stronger as time goes on, as we’re working that much harder to honour Frank’s legacy.
Thief Of Thieves
The writer’s room experience on Walking Dead seems to have had a real effect on how you want to write. You’re launching Thief of Thieves with Nick Spencer in February 2012, where you’re setting the overall direction of the comic and then taking on a variety of co-writers as the story moves forward. What’s the main attraction of this process for you? Do you find that stories are stronger when you break them with a room, or is it just a different, more social, more competitive style of working?
It’s a lot of things, putting it most simply, it’s writing with a safety net. There’s a voice and clear direction for the series, but it will end up being a stew that a lot of writers get to throw a lot of ingredients into. And we’ve got the amazing Shawn Martinbrough to bring it all together and make it cohesive, much the way actors acting make a TV show consistent despite so many different writers working on it. I think this series is going to be greater than anything this team or writers could have done on our own... I can’t wait for this book to start coming out.
What can you tell us about the premise of Thief of Thieves? You seem to consciously choose very different genres for each of your new titles, so how does it compare to the rest of your current output?
It’s more appealing to readers of Walking Dead than I think a lot of my work is. It’s a realistic, grounded story--but it’s also got cool action and crazy plot twists. It’s a heist story, about arguably the greatest thief who ever lived, but I wouldn’t call it a crime comic. Like Walking Dead, it just uses the crime setting to tell stories and keep things action-packed. The real gist of the story is about the main character, Conrad, trying to reconcile with his ex-wife and get his life back in order, all the while trying to turn his back on a life he’s grown accustomed to and an illegal pastime he is absolutely addicted to.
The full interview with Robert Kirkman in CLiNT #11 includes in-depth exposés on Invincible, The Walking Dead Comics, The Infinite, Super-Dinosaur, Image Comics and more!
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Category: Interviews | Posted on: 30 September 2011