Fresh off the successful first season of The CW's "iZombie," CBR TV's Kiel Phegley welcomed showrunners Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright to the world famous CBR Yacht at Comic-Con International in San Diego. The duo, who previously worked together on "Veronica Mars" and co-wrote the movie follow-up, discuss how their new series isn't the old series -- but does share some similarities, plus how they're developing the world's zombie mythology as they move forward with Season Two. They also talk about some of the challenges they faced adapting the Vertigo Comics series by Chris Roberson and Mike Allred to television, how they plan to push themselves even further, and what Ruggiero-Wright's dream projects are.
After discussing the season finale party, which was held two weeks after the duo started working on Season Two, the conversation quickly turns to their previous series, "Veronica Mars." Thomas explains how the series shares some similarities with "Veronica," as well as the myriad ways he's not trying to do the same thing, despite the presence of mysteries and a plucky blond lead. They also discuss how great it was bringing in Steven Weber to play a villain and how, according to Ruggiero, it led to one of the first season's best moments.
On whether or not they're tired of comparisons to "Veronica Mars":
Rob Thomas: I suppose if I were really tired of it we wouldn't have done a short, blond crime solver. Yeah, I should have really steered further away had that really been an issue with me. It doesn't -- that doesn't bother me. I feel like we've talked more about "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" in the writers' room than we have "Veronica," but I understand the comparisons and it doesn't bother me.
Diane Ruggiero-Wright: Plus, people love "Veronica" so them comparing is like, "Okay!" [Laughs]
On whether they knew Season Two was happening ahead of writing the finale:
Thomas: We were feeling pretty confident even though we hadn't aired, the studio and network were so behind the show. Sometimes you have a contentious relationship with your studio or your network as you're doing a show and you feel like 'they're not happy and we may not be around.' They were so happy with it we felt like we were gonna get a Season Two. There wasn't really any discussion on, "Are we doing a series finale?" We always felt like we're gonna get a Season Two and that we would build to that in it.
Ruggiero-Wright: I think one of the things I also like about working with Rob that we did and that I was really proud of with "Veronica Mars" is having a season-long arc that you solve, and not stringing people along and not having an ending and you stick with something for five years and you're like, "Really? That's what this was about?" Like, that frustration as a fan. That's one of the things I loved about "Veronica Mars" and I like about working with Rob is he always, we always kind of come up with a satisfying way to end a season that questions are answered so you have that, "Oh, I spent a season and now I have a result at the end." You're not just being jerked around.
In the second part of the conversation, Ruggiero-Wright explains the fallacy of "write what you know," and how she has worked hard to change what people expect of her as a writer. She also talks about her dream projects, naming two comic books she's love to work on and announcing an upcoming story in DC Comics' digital first "Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman" series.
Thomas: Tell him what you want to do.
Ruggiero-Wright: All I want to do in the world is Wonder Woman. That's all I want to -- like I seriously, every time I see [DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer] Geoff Johns I like staple him to things and say, like, "Let me pitch you 'Wonder Woman.'" He's like, "You know it's already happening, they're filming it right now." I'm like, "Yeah yeah yeah yeah, but..." I'm actually doing a comic, a digital Wonder Woman comic, which is the best thing that ever happened to me. So that's pretty exciting, but yes, I do love anything that takes place not here. Like if it's space, if there's zombies, if there's anything that's not reality.
Thomas: Anything that's not New Jersey waitress.
Ruggiero-Wright: Yes. But by the way, there's a comic -- it was called "Jersey Gods" -- Glen Brunswick did a comic and it was literally like gods that came down to a mall in New Jersey. I was like, "Fuck yeah, Glen Brunswick! I love you, that's so perfect." That would be awesome. So a New Jersey waitress battling gods -- totally perfect. But I just need the gods and the battle.
In the final part of their conversation with CBR TV, Thomas and Ruggiero-Wright outline what viewers can expect from "iZombie" in Season Two, explaining their goals for Liv's newest adventures and the larger world they've created. Thomas also comments on the much discussed "Party Down" movie, and whether his Starz comedy series that ran for two years will ever get a proper sendoff.
On the challenges they've set for themselves with "iZombie" Season Two:
Thomas: I do think we've figured out the show. There is certainly a learning curve on doing the show, but we are throwing new things into the show. The way Liv eats brains will be different this year, we're even sort of breaking stories [differently] this year. Last year we would break a murder case first and then figure out what are the other stories going on. I think just little bit of switch in priorities and a little bit it makes finding the murder cases easier this year is we are kind of starting with all the other things going on in the episode and then finding a murder case that fits those. Also like we've grown smarter in figuring out what brains of the week work very well for the show. It helps if it's like a big type, archetype, that we can ask Rose [McIver] to put on each week because we can find the jokes easier, people relate to it more.
Ruggiero-Wright: It's clearer when she's on brain. When it's kicking in it's clearer. Then you're like, "is that Liv or is that zombie brain?"
Thomas: It's very tough to pull off, like, "I'm a sociopath." And so, "Rose, play nothing. Play blank stares." [Laughs]