CCI, Day 3: Robert Kirkman Exclusive to Marvel

Robert Kirkman has seen a meteoric rise in his value in he past year or two. Starting out in the industry self-publishing the quirky "Battle Pope" and moving on to numerous Image books and finally hitting it big with creator owned books "Invincible" and "The Walking Dead," the writer has grown his fan base exponentially. And Marvel Comics noticed.

Announced today during the Cup o' Joe panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego, you can add Robert Kirkman to the list of exclusive creators at Marvel, who also announced Warren Ellis as an exclusive writer yesterday. CBR News caught up with the writer during the convention to learn more about how this came to be and the fate of his creator owned series.

"Tom Breevort contacted me a couple of weeks ago and was feeling me out to see if I'd be interested [in an exclusive agreement]. I told him I'd have to be able to keep 'The Walking Dead' and 'Invincible' at Image and they'd have to allot to the stuff I'd already committed to and they seemed to be fine with that," Kirkman told CBR News in San Diego. I'm happy to be working with Marvel. I love the company and I love the characters, so I was all for it the second they mentioned it to me. They answered every question the way I wanted them to. Everything worked out and we're both completely happy."

Kirkman's first series under the exclusive agreement was the previously announced "Marvel Team-Up" with artist Scott Kollins.

Kirkman has specific reasons for accepting the exclusivity agreement.

"Well, there's the stability factor. I mean, you've got guaranteed employment for two years and that's all good. There are other benefits, health care and stuff like that. I didn't want to piss them off, but it always came back to the status of 'The Walking Dead' and 'Invincible.' If I can sell books for them and I can sell books for me, then we can all be happy and I don't see where there can be any problems."

The question of whether or not his two creator owned books could be moved over to Marvel's Icon imprint did come up, but Kirkman's real happy keeping his books over at Image.

"They mentioned it, but I didn't give them time to make the actual offer," said Kirkman. "They mentioned it as a possibility and I told them I wasn't really interested. I'm completely happy at Image and I want to support Image Comics. I think Image is a vital part of this industry and it just wasn't an option."

This all coming from the guy who wrote and created the comic "Battle Pope ," a cigar smoking, no pants wearing, two-fisted Pope with an appearance by a rather different sort of Jesus Christ.

"I had to send a list of projects that I'd committed to and one of them was the possibility of doing 'Battle Pope' in color at Image. I ran it by them because I said it was one of the projects I've committed to at Image and I would understand if they had a problem with this. I've done fourteen issues of this book and it's going to look like a regular monthly series if it happens. We haven't decided [if it's actually going to happen]. There's a lot of things involved, we'll see. At this point, I've only spoken briefly with Erik Larsen about it.

"I told Marvel if they didn't want this to look like another series that I'm doing and they don't want an exclusive creator to be associated with something like 'Battle Pope,' I would understand. I don't need to publish this series or reprint it right away, but they didn't really seem to care."

As for the future of new creator-owned books from the writer and what their home might be, "If I come up with any more creator owned ideas I'll just hold on to them for two years and see what happens after that."

For full coverage of the Cup O' Joe panel, tune in to Newsarama.com later this evening.

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