The AMC adaptation of Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard's Image Comic "The Walking Dead" has already proven to be a smash hit on TV, but the writer behind the blockbuster zombie serial is keeping his hand firmly at the rudder on a huge amount of comics product. The week's leading up to the premier of "The Walking Dead" were met with waves of news on the comic itself including word that the series would move to a day-and-date digital and print distribution model, that it would receive its own dedicated iPhone app and that the original issues of the series would be reprinted for comic shops and sold weekly.
And those aren't the only waves Kirkman has been making in comic shops over the past few months. Stretching back to his establishment as a partner at Image Comics on through the founding of his own Skybound imprint not to mention big time story moves like "Invincible's" Viltrumite War, the spinoff "Guarding The Globe" and the Todd McFarlane co-production "Haunt," the writer's output of and advocacy for creator-owned comics has never been higher.
To help bring the recent moves full circle, CBR wanted to revisit what was in many ways ground zero for his current aggressive run at the market: Kirkman's 2008 "manifesto" video on the need for A-list talent to take a stab at creator-owned comics. Below, check out the full video along with the writer's original support essay where he describes what he'd like to see happen in the comics industry, then sound off on the CBR message boards on how successful Kirkman has been at meeting those goals!
I came back from San Diego supercharged with excitement for comics and so I made this video. It's a little ramble filled in places and I want to thank the fine folks at CBR for cleaning it up as much as they did. Just for clarity's sake I'd like to simplify things a little.
I think there's a way to fix comics and make everyone happy doing it. I don't claim to be right, but I think there could be something to this.
Step One:Top creators who want to do creator-owned work band together and give it a shot. I'd certainly love for that to be at Image, but whatever, wherever -- if you want to do it, step up and do it. The more people who do it, the easier it'll be to do. Creators are very important to the current fan base, if it's done right you could bring a large portion of your audience with you provided you take the plunge and only do creator-owned work. If you give people the option of Spider-Man or your creator-owned book... they'll choose Spider-Man, that's something time-tested versus something new. New has to be the only option.
Step Two:If that results in a mass exodus of creators leaving Marvel and DC, don't panic guys, I love their books as much as everyone else -- nobody wants to hurt them in the process. Look at it like an opportunity, that's the time for Marvel and DC to step up the plate and make their comics viable for a whole new generation. Less continuity, more accessible stories -- not made for kids, but appropriate for kids. Books that would appeal to everyone still reading comics, but would also appeal to the average 13 year old too. There are a wealth of talented creators who haven't yet reached a level where they can sell books on their own -- they can do awesome work for the companies and be happy doing it.
What that could lead to:A comic industry where there are more original comics, so there's more new ideas, more creator-owned books by totally awesome guys that are selling a ton of books. Those books are mature and complex and appeal to our aging audience that I count myself among who are keeping this business alive. And we also have a revitalized Marvel and DC who are selling comics to a much wider audience than ever before. And that audience, as they age, may get turned on to some awesome creator-owned work eventually. So everyone is happy.
I'm not saying it would be as simple as all that, I'm just saying this "could" work and that there are enough smart people working in comics today that it could probably happen. The problem as I see it, is that Marvel and DC are currently very successful with the audience they have now, "us" and we're all happy with the comics they're producing... because they're all mostly awesome. But as we age, we die, so we're not going to be around forever and so if comics continue to age with us, they will die along with us and that's not something I think any of us want.
So, there, I hope that makes my message clear. So, uhh, fire away, I'm all ears.
-- Robert Kirkman