Robert Kirkman "Walks" On, Part 1

Though the general public who flocked to the shambling zombie action of "The Walking Dead" last fall on AMC are having to wait through October to get more undead action, comic readers are still able to tap into the Image Comics series by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard on the regular, and the writer is working to keep it that way across his Skybound line of comics.

"I've kind of got my work schedule regimented by the minute at this point," Kirkman told CBR News recently. "I've been waking up at 6:00 AM and going into the office where the writers work at 7:00 AM. So I'm there working from 7:00 until they show up to start working in the room. By the time we all get going on the show, I've already put in maybe a three-hour work day on comics. Then after we're done working on the show, I put in more time on comics. Usually I do another three hours or so at night once my kids go to bed. It's been pretty packed, but I'm making it work. It's worth it when you love what you're doing."

With the recent issue #83, the series' turning-point story arc "No Way Out" revealed another jaw-dropping twist (check out CBR's spoiler-filled review), and Kirkman explained that both in this story and the future of the book sacrifices and hard choices will reign supreme. "This series, on the surface as it appears now, is turning into 'Rick's descent into madness.' How many horrible things can this guy go through, and how many horrible things can he be forced into doing before he snaps? That's part of the fun of it - putting your main character through his paces and seeing how he comes out the other side. After he said what he said at the end of #82, I see a lot of people going 'Oh my God! How can you even like Rick at this point? How could he say something like that?' What I always say is give us time. Wait and see where we're going with this.

"And also, you have to take into account the different things this guy has gone through," the writer continued of the story which wraps next month. "Has he turned into a monster? Maybe kind of, but that's what you have to do to survive. The fun of 'The Walking Dead' is that it's a terrible world that people shouldn't be able to survive in. Surviving in this world is almost as terrible as dying because it changes you into something you don't really want to be. I'm thrilled to have been able to stay on the book as long as I have and continue with the book for as long as I want to, which is quite a long time. We're going to continue to see these characters evolving and turning into things that are completely unrecognizable from what you saw in the first issues."

That proclivity for the unexpected and Kirkman's glee in putting his characters through hell has caught fire in the writer's room for Season 2 of the "Walking Dead" TV show, he said. "We had a funny exchange the other day where one of the writers suggested something absolutely horrible for one of the characters. It was really gut-wrenching, and it was definitely something that was like the coolest moments of the comic where you just go 'Holy crap! This just happened!' And after he said it, everybody stopped and looked around the room. Glen Mazzara, who's running the room, said 'This is great. This is what's so good about being on this show. You know these discussions don't happen in any other writer's room on any other show. We can do anything to these characters, and it isn't too much. It fits. The parameters of the show are crazy.' And I think that's the kind of thing you have to keep in mind when you're doing a comic book too.

"So the short answer is yes. I do enjoy putting the characters through their paces, and the writers on the show are just now realizing how far they'll be able to go. They seem to be enjoying it too."

That franchise idea will expand into video games this fall when story-driven design company Telltale Games unleashes an episodic take on "The Walking Dead." "It fits in with the story of the comic," Kirkman said. "I'm exciting to say that it will have the same character moments, and it's not just an action game. It will have action too, but as far as seeing different characters and watching the story unfold, the game will be told in chapters, and you're not going to be playing as the same character in every chapter. I think Telltale is doing an extremely good job on the game, and it's going to be able to retain a lot more of the 'Walking Dead' reading experience than you might expect."

Stay tuned tomorrow for part two of CBR's Robert Kirkman blowout focusing on incoming issues of "Invincible." And keep an eye out for "The Walking Dead" #84, the official end of the "No Way Out" story, hitting later this month from Image Comics.

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