When The Walking Dead launched back in 2003, no one could have predicted the massive multimedia success the series would have. So now when Walking Dead franchise creator Robert Kirkman launches a new comic book, he does so with a very different set of experiences than he had back then -- which helped shape his approach to he and artist Lorenzo De Felici's upcoming creator-owned sci-fi series for Skybound and Image Comics, Oblivion Song.
During a recent press conference call for Oblivion Song, Kirkman told CBR how his success in Hollywood -- including eight years and counting of The Walking Dead on AMC, Outcast on Cinemax and the in-development Invincible film -- affects his new comic book series. Rather than changing the way the creative team tells the story itself, Kirkman says it's more about applying lessons from Hollywood to the production schedule and marketing strategy; allowing for an opportunity to step away from the internal logic of the comic book industry.
"I think that we in comics do ourselves a disservice at all times by really kind of running and gunning everything that we do," Kirkman told CBR. "I think people would be surprised to learn that when the vast majority of comics show up in the catalogue to be ordered, they're not completed, and I think a staggering number of them haven't even been begun. That's kind of crazy to me. Television and film -- they actually will complete a project, or complete an entire season of television, before they start to market that season of television, before they start to figure out how it is they're going to position it in the marketplace."
Kirkman continued by saying it's "absurd" that movies and television shows are produced further in advance than comic books, given the considerably lower lead time needed, budget requirements and number of people involved. So with Oblivion Song he bucked the trend, as he and De Felici were working on the series for more than a year before it was announced, with multiple issues already completed in advance of the book's debut.
"That's something that is absurd to me, because making a movie or a television show is vastly more expensive than making a comic book, and it's extremely more complicated and takes a lot more moving parts," Kirkman said. "I thought there was a tremendous opportunity in comics to actually produce a project in secret, work on it for a number of years, get a huge chunk of it done. I'm able to sit back and look at a year's worth of Oblivion Song issues that are completed and in the can, and decide, 'Oh, this story aspect from issue #4, I can use that in the marketing. I can take this art from issue #6 and use that here.'"
"It's given us at Skybound an extreme amount of leeway into how we do this book; from our posters, to our ad campaign, we've done a lot of retailer outreach," Kirkman continued. "We sent out a full trade paperback of #1 through #6 to all the direct market accounts, so that retailers have the first six issues to read before they even place an order. Numbers are starting to come in, and that seems to have been extremely successful. We're very happy with where things are. If anything, I've just learned that taking time with a project and not rushing it to market is a winning formula."
Oblivion Song #1 is scheduled to debut on March 7. The series stars an agent named Nathan Cole, who works to retrieve former residents of Philadelphia who have been left behind in an alternate dimension named Oblivion.