Robert Kirkman is the creator of The Walking Dead, Invincible, Super Dinosaur, and Thief of Thieves. He recently released the 100th issue of The Walking Dead for Image Comics, and is presently at work on the 3rd season AMC’s The Walking Dead, for which he serves as a writer and an executive producer. He is also developing Thief of Thieves for the network.
While at San Diego Comic Con yesterday morning, our Steven Sautter had a chance to sit down for an exclusive one on one interview with Mr. Kirkman. During the interview they talked about the progress of the Thief of Thieves TV adaptation, the reason why the most beloved characters meet the most brutal of ends in The Walking Dead universe, the future of The Walking Dead, and what Kirkman thinks about non-creator owned comic books and the “corporate entities” behind them.
So Thief of Thieves, congratulations on the pickup — how far away are we from seeing it on the screen?
Robert Kirkman: It’s very much in the early stages right now — we’re in pilot development, which means that we are working on developing the script for a pilot. That is the absolute first stage after something is brought into a network to be developed. Right now I’m working with Chic Eglee and we’re mapping out what the series is going to be and what parts of the comics we’re going to use.
And you’re going to act as a show runner or producer?
Kirkman: Well I’m not a show runner, because that is work and I do not like doing work. No, I’ll be an executive producer and I’ll be writing on the show and all that kind of stuff. Chic Eglee will be the show runner and he’s writing the pilot and it will be his show. You know, in much the same way that Glen Mazzara is the show runner of The Walking Dead. But you know, I’m in the writers room full time and I’m able to say don’t put lasers in the zombies eyes.
SPOILER ALERT — WALKING DEAD #100 Question Ahead.
Walking Dead #100 has come out and we will spoiler alert this on the site, but killing Glenn and on the show killing Dale — beloved characters with very, very brutal deaths…
Is there a particular message you are trying to say with that; like don’t get attached to anyone? or do you just like doing what you can to really give someone a good death?
Kirkman: No. There’s nothing about these scenes that I like, you know? It’s not like a gleeful celebration of vicious murder that I’m partaking in. I will say that the more a character is beloved, the more horrific their death tends to be just because you want to pull on those heartstrings and you want to bring that emotion out of the reader and show them that this is a savage world. This is a not the world that we live in. This is very different. It’s very dangerous, and I’m really just trying to be realistic.
Glenn’s death being as brutal as it was, was really just a message of: this is what this world is like now, you thought that after 100 issues you knew what was going on in this book, but now they’re dealing with this and this is new and this is dangerous and it’s a whole new ballgame now.
Have you thought about doing a flash forward at some point just to give fans a glimpse of what might happen in the future and then take it back to the present day?
Kirkman: No, I think it’s more fun to get there naturally. So I think that any flash forward that we would do from this point would be in like issue 332.
When you run out of ideas?
Kirkman: Sur… no, no, no I mean that’s when I’ll say that stuff, when we get to it. You know, I don’t want to see Carl suddenly 20. I want to see Carl at 13, 14, 15, 16 and the different things that he experiences over the course of that time, assuming Carl doesn’t die. You know, that’s what I want to see. I want to see how Rick lives year after year after year. There’s not anything boring that were going to be skipping over for any long periods of time, you know there may be a month here where you pick up an issue and it’s been a month or two, but never any kind of huge jump where characters in them are radically different, because I want to see what makes them radically different. Think about it this way: if you’re reading issue 20 of the comic book and you want to be like, “I’m goona skip to issue 90 and see what it’s like”, like that’s how differently I want this book to be when you go from issue 100 to issue 200. I want you to have that like “holy crap, this is a completely different cast of characters with a completely different situation doing completely different things” [feeling], even though some of them are the same people you know — they’ve [just] been radically altered by the things that they’ve lived through in these 80 issues. That’s what interests me.
With a changeable cast of characters is no one safe?
Kirkman: Absolutely. I think anyone could die at any moment. That’s the truth of this world and you know that’s really what we’re trying to portray.
Super Dinosaur is doing very well. Any other all ages projects in the works?
Kirkman: Right now, you know, I’m very busy. I’m very open to all ages books. I think that were going to do some new Skybound titles eventually in the next couple of years. That’ll be all ages like Super Dinosaur, but for me personally I think all of my all ages muscles are going to go into that collaboration with Jason Howard making that all it can be and I think there’s some really exciting things on the horizon for Super Dinosaur that I think are really gonna shock people. So very excited about that, and I’m happy that people are digging the book. I love being able to write a comic that my children and Jason Howard’s children can actually look at because the majority of my work is so graphic and completely unknown to the people in my life and my family, so it’s good to be like: “this is what your dad does, what you think?” and they’re like “I like Iron Man better”.
If you had to create a Guardians of the Globe type team from all of your assorted projects who do you go for? Let’s make it a cast of 6.
Kirkman: Cast of six — Michonne, Oliver, the new kid Elliot that’s in Super Dinosaur, he’s got that jet pack and sometimes he’s Bullet-Blasts, sometimes he’s Rocket-Shot — he changes his name all the time. So yeah, Rocket-Shot, Oliver from Invincible, Michonne, maybe the Astounding Wolfman — that’s cool, Best Tiger from Guardians of the Globe. Brittany, Brit’s sister from the Brit series.
And who would be leading?
Finally, I know you don’t have a lot of spare time but what do you read, what are you reading right now in terms of comics and in terms of other stuff out there in the world?
Kirkman: I just got At the Mountains of Madness, because I’ve been wanting to read some of that stuff and actually be familiar with it because I’m really not. I haven’t yet cracked into it because I am a horrible, horrible fiction reader. I want too, I buy the books and then I never get around to it so I’ve got like a stack of things where it’s like “oh, I can’t wait to get to that” and I don’t. But I read Saga, Fatale. I read all of the Image titles for the most part, there is a few that I don’t get around to but I think that creator owned comics are really the comics that are bringing in the best stories from the best talent. You know, the heart and the emotion and everything that goes into making those stories really shows through in the final product. I think those to me are the real comics and everything else is a corporate entity that is trying to manufacture false representations of your memory from age 15 and I think, you know, that stuff ain’t so great — so yeah I don’t know, buy Saga, I think is what I’m trying to say.