Yesterday, Image Comics partner and crossover comics-to-television writer Robert Kirkman gave CBR News the scoop on how AMC’s adaptation of “The Walking Dead” and his role in the writer’s room has impacted his work on that best-selling comic. Of course, the zombie hoards infecting that monthly title don’t represent the only expansive universe under the writer’s purview.
On the flipside of his monthly comics life, Kirkman and artist Ryan Ottley’s “Invincible” is also in the process of wrapping a major turning-point story of its own: the long-awaited “Viltrumite War.” “The great thing about creator-owned comics is that at the end of this storyline where seemingly we are wrapping up a HUGE part of the series that’s been running since the very beginning, Ryan Ottley and I are still there,” Kirkman told CBR. “It’s not a case where we’re wrapping up a major storyline and then moving on so another creative team can come on to the book. While it does seem to a certain extent like an ending, I was very mindful writing this stuff that it almost sets up more new stuff than it does end the old stuff. There are a lot of exciting things going on in the book and definitely some more long term stories going on. We’ve still got Angstrom Levy in another dimension working with a crazy scientist who rebuilt his face to do God knows what. And we’ve also got eight alternate universe Invincibles that are stranded in a dimension, and they want to come out and kick some butt. There’s a lot of little plot threads left to resolve, and there will always be more to resolve. The book will keep cycling like that, and I see no end in sight because it’s a superhero book and that’s what they do. You set up the story, and then you keep doing new stuff.
Of course, not every story cycle is made for epic comic arcs, and Kirkman promised a run of villain-centric one-offs on the way including the return of PowerPlex in issue #81, Universa in #82 and Tether Tyrant and Magmaniac in #83. “There’s different people expecting different things out of ‘Invincible,’ and one of the cool things the book has done in the past is single-issue stories and intertwined subplots, and that’s something we got away from during ‘The Viltrumite War.’ Because that was such a big story, we did get behind schedule. Coming out of ‘The Viltrumite War’ I wanted to get back to that stuff and have some more light-hearted moments that we haven’t seen in a while. I wanted to put some more fun back in the book, and put some of our cooler villains back in that we haven’t seen while Mark’s been off in space. I wanted to get back to that single-issue feel as we build towards our next massive storyline.
But first up is this week’s “Invincible” #79, which puts a final grace note on the recent action in a way the writer promises only his team can do. “Because we’re creator-owned, we’re able to take characters off the table and never bring them back for marketing purposes. There’s always crazy stuff in there that you’d never be able to do with a corporate superhero. I just wrote a scene at the end of #79 that I don’t think you’d ever see in a corporate superhero comic. That’s the appeal of ‘Invincible’ for me.”
Overall, the writer himself was a bit surprised to find himself in the midst of two game-changer stories at the same time as the “Walking Dead” TV show was coming along and changing the game for his career. “Those storylines were planned way in advance and happened to fall at the time when I was working on the show. It was kind of annoying because I was traveling a lot and saying to myself, ‘These stories are important! It’s not just some random issue where Invincible fights the Mauler Twins. I have to try on these!'” laughed Kirkman. “And I’m learning stuff. I have to be learning stuff being in the room and spitballing with the writers all day. Hopefully it’s improving my writing, because I’m always of the mind that I have room to improve.”
Kirkman definitely plans on upping his writing game once again considering that issue #100 for both his flagship titles is just around the corner. “It’s exciting, but it’s also kind of daunting,” he said. “When I started both ‘Invincible’ and ‘The Walking Dead,’ I didn’t know if either was going to last through issue #12. And that’s the thing that keeps me humble and thankful. I really do sit down and go ‘Wow! ‘Invincible’ and ‘Walking Dead’ are hitting 100. I really have to deliver on these things.’ There’s a tremendous amount of support these books get from the comic-reading fan base. Single issues of both monthly books are still going up in sales, and that’s at a time when our #1 book is at 80,000 and everyone is crying that the sky is falling. I’m really thankful for that support, and I thank my lucky stars that it looks like we’ll be getting to #100 on both series and move beyond that. I’m almost of the mind to go, ‘Okay. We made it to 100… I want to go to 200. I’m not going to just rest on this. Let’s climb the next mountain.’
“I’m also excited because I know exactly what happens in ‘Invincible’ #100 and ‘Walking Dead’ #100, and I’m really dying to get there. Getting to my first issue 100s, I wanted to make both of them crazy and awesome and worthy of that number. I think it must have been six months to a year ago figuring out exactly what was going to be going on then –Â because I have plots and I know in general where I’m going. Thinking of issue #100 and the coolest things I could put in those issues, I’m happy to say that I think i came up with great stuff for both issues. I wish it were a year and a half from now already.”
Fans will have plenty to chew on between now and then on the comics side, but for anyone desperate for more zombie TV action from him, he pleads patience as more “Walking Dead” comes together. “Just to speak on that for a moment, I’m sorry our first season was six episodes. I wish it had been longer too. But the gap between Season 1 and Season 2 is because we didn’t have an extra seven episodes at the end. Every TV show usually debuts around the same time the season before it debuted, so it’s not unusual for Season 2 to pick up around the same time next year. I wish we would have had more episodes too, but I kind of wish people would stop acting like it’s the end of the world.”
“Invincible” #79, the epilogue to “The Viltrumite War,” is in stores today.