SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Image Comics' The Walking Dead #167, in stores now.
It's fair to say that death is a pretty regular occurrence in the post-zombie apocalypse world of The Walking Dead, however the demise of a pretty major character in #167, the title's most recent issue, seems to have made a significant impact on even the series creator, Robert Kirkman.
Speaking exclusively to CBR, Kirkman revealed how scripting the fateful events of that issue affected him personally, and led him to replace that month's letters column with a personal letter to his readers.
"I did know it was coming for a while. I even hinted at it in the letters column a couple of times, because I thought that would be funny," Kirkman said. "It was weird. Even knowing that it was coming for a while, when I actually sat down to write the scene, it was extremely difficult. Andrea's been a really important part of the book, and is one of the longest-running characters in the book. For me, one of the characters that has evolved almost more than any other character. The person she is at her death is vastly different than where she was when the series began. That kind of stuff really hits me hard, because I see so much growth in the character, and it's ending."
Kirkman continued, "It makes no sense, because it's not a real person, but to know that their story is ending, it really hits me. That was a real tough one. I didn't expect it to be as difficult as it was, which is why I ended up writing that letter. I try to gauge the impact it has on me with how it will impact the audience. I think it's important to readers that they know as upsetting as some of these stories are to you, it also upsets me. And I don't really understand why I do it! Because I could just stop, and make the comic super-happy. But it's a fun burden to have, I guess. The desire to keep things interesting and compelling often supersedes my desire to, y'know, sleep well at night."
Written by Robert Kirkman and drawn by Charlie Adlard, The Walking Dead continues with issue #168, hitting comic stores on June 7, 2017.