IMAGE EXPO 2013: Kirkman Unleashes "All Out War" in "Walking Dead"

In October, "The Walking Dead" #115 kicks off a new, different sort of storyline. Titled "All Out War," the 12-issue arc pulls the focus away from merely surviving the ubiquitous threat of Walkers to explore the challenges in rebuilding society. Four main communities of survivors -- Alexandria, The Hilltop, The Saviors and The Kingdom -- each with their own unique objectives and leaderships, must negotiate, form alliances and, let's be real, probably kill each other in order to restore a sense of order and community in a world gone to Hell.

Image Comics Partner and "The Walking Dead" co-creator Robert Kirkman sat down with CBR at Image Expo 2013 to dig a little deeper into his announcements regarding the future of the series, the changes in storytelling and his plans for the escalated release schedule of the issues and trade paperbacks.

CBR News: With the announcement of the new "Walking Dead" story arc focusing on the war between the four main factions of survivors, what role do the Walkers play? Are they still the biggest threat the survivors face?

Robert Kirkman: The Walkers are still very present, [but we're exploring] the fact that human beings are more organized and able to work together. There are a lot of people at Alexandria, there are more people at Hilltop and there are even more people at The Kingdom. There are these seemingly peaceful civilizations that are actually cleaning out the Walkers around them and have built safe-zones. But the Walkers are still there, they're still present.

There will still be stories involving how dangerous zombies are in this world, but it's been a hundred issues, and things have to evolve. I think we've gotten to a point in "The Walking Dead" where its about a world where zombies exist, but people have been dealing with them for a long time. They know how to deal with them and there are only certain situations that arise where zombies are dangerous. Those situations will still continue to happen because its still very much a zombie book, but there's a lot more going on now. Which I think is cool!

In this new arc, will the storytelling point of view switch from that of Rick's crew to the leaders of the other factions? Will we see their assessment of the current state of things?

The book will open up. It's always been about one community, Rick's community, thus far. If you think back to the days of the Governor in Woodbury, there were issues that did just focus on Woodbury and a few that focused on what they were doing in Woodbury when Rick, Michonne and Carl were there that didn't check in on the prison.

Now that there are four distinct pockets of civilization, there will be issues that take place entirely at Hilltop, there will be the random issue that takes place in The Kingdom -- the book is going to open up in some cool ways, and yes, the point of view will change.

With "All Out War" releasing bi-weekly instead of monthly, does this affect the release dates of the trade paperbacks?

It will ramp it up a bit. We'll have three trades out in a year instead of two, so that will be an extra bonus for retailers and fans to be able to get an extra trade in one year. That will also get us to "The Walking Dead: Compendium Three" a little faster.

Was your decision to speed up the release of this arc at all influenced by "The Walking Dead" fans becoming accustomed to seeing an episode of the show weekly on AMC?

Maybe subconsciously, a little. It bugs me to no end that there are people on my Twitter feed who come to the comics from the show and wonder why it takes so long for the comic to come out and ask why we're always late. "The Walking Dead" has been on time for three or four years! We've been doing a minimum of 12 issues every year, more in most years! Ultimately, it's exciting because these people love it and they want more, but they assume the book is late because it's not at pace with the show.

Was ramping up the release schedule something you had planned before you began receiving tweets from fans who discovered the comic via the show?

I've been talking to [series artist] Charlie Adlard about going bi-weekly since issue #10. He's incredibly fast and I knew he could handle it. There was always a plan of getting ahead and eventually getting to a point where we had a bunch of issues banked and could ship bi-weekly. I love telling the story, and the more I can tell, the more excited I am. We're pretty well ahead of schedule right now, and Charlie's always been able to do this. The only thing holding it back was me! I've been committed to doing this and now it's happening!

"The Walking Dead's" next major arc, "All Out War," released bi-weekly beginning in October.

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