18 Burning Fan Questions Answered by “The Walking Dead” Creator Robert Kirkman
The man behind the Emmy-winning television show about the zombie apocalypse answers fan questions at the Amazing Hawai‘i Comic Con.
THE WALKING DEAD CREATOR ROBERT KIRKMAN AT AMAZING HAWAI‘I COMIC CON.
Photo: Courtesy of Robert Kirkman
If you’re dying to find out which beloved character got killed off in The Walking Dead’s season six finale, you’re out of luck. There’s plenty of speculation and theories on YouTube as to which fan favorite’s head got smashed in by Lucille (Negan’s bat) in the intense cliffhanger episode. We’re placing our bets on Glenn Rhee (Spoiler alert! In the comics, Glenn’s tragic death is what propels Maggie Greene to become the Hilltop leader).
We attended a recent Q&A session with The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman at the Amazing Hawai‘i Comic Con for answers. We asked Kirkman if fan favorite bow-slinging redneck Daryl Dixon might be on the chopping block since actor Norman Reedus recently kicked off his new TV show Ride with Norman Reedus. “A possibility,” Kirkman says. “That said, he’s been photographed on set, so he’s around. Could be that he’s a ghost. You never know.” That doesn’t give much relief to Daryl Dixon fans who promise they’ll “riot” if he dies. Still, Kirkman’s message is that “no one is safe.”
Kirkman eagerly answered all the juicy questions from The Walking Dead fans in Honolulu. Missed the panel? Don’t worry, we’ve got the highlights below.
1. Clearly the storylines in the comic and the TV show are parallel. Is there one you prefer, and what are your thoughts on the differences between the two?
Kirkman: The comic has a closer place in my heart, because it’s something that I started at my house when I was 23. As far as the stories go, there are certain aspects of the television show that I think are really cool. But I also recognize the aspects of the show that are cooler than the comics, because the comics were there as a springboard. We do change a lot of stuff with the show and that excites me, because I don’t write the same thing twice. But I prefer comics to TV in general, because I feel like it is a cooler medium.
2. Thank you for starting the backstory on Negan, because a lot of fans were like, what happened to him, and who was he like. Would you ever consider doing the same thing for Jesus?
Kirkman: No, but Jesus definitely does have a back story that’s interesting that I’ll probably get around to at some point. I don’t know. I don’t want to do too many things that are outside of the realm of The Walking Dead. We’ve got things from time to time that are kind of set outside of the regular issues, but I do try to keep the story contained within the comic itself. The Negan thing is somewhat special and eventually it’ll probably end up being 12 chapters, but it might end up running a little longer.
3. Please don’t kill Glenn.
Kirkman: I’ll take that under advisement, but maybe it’s already too late.
Who did Negan kill?
Kirkman: You know I can’t answer that.
4. I have a 15-year-old who loves to draw. What would be your advice for him?
Kirkman: Don’t listen to people who aren’t artists, for one. But, having said that, draw every day. I think that a lot of people have a thing that they want to do, and I think that especially when you’re 15 you’re capable of doing what you want to do. Just putting in the time; it’s a matter of putting in the time. Just make sure you don’t yell at them when they are drawing all the time and not socializing.
Will fans really riot if daryl dies?
5. Can you list all the people who will die in The Walking Dead?
Kirkman: Rick, Carl, Michonne, Darlyn Dixon—eventually, c’mon! Abraham, Rosita, Eugene, Jesus. Good question!
6. What’s the inspiration for The Walking Dead and the character design?
Kirkman: Mostly real life. The majority of those people were in plain clothes. Mad Max? Not really.
7. I’m very excited about The Walking Dead attraction at Universal Studios. Will there be a chance to meet those characters?
Kirkman: There might be some event at some point, but I don’t think there’s anything planned yet.
8. The Walking Dead or Invincible: which one is going to finish first?
Kirkman: Which one is going to finish first? Yikes! What if they never finish? What if they both just merge into one really weird book?
9. Do you have advice for writers interested in getting into the industry?
Kirkman: It depends on what you want to do. Writing submissions is not easy, because everyone who works in comics is busy making comics. The idea of sitting down with a slush pile, which is what novel publishers have in a pile of unpublished novels they have to look at to find the next great novel, it doesn’t exist in comics. Sending submissions out to people until they publish you is probably never going to work.
Walkers Maul GleNN Rhee.
10. Earlier in the season, you did a fake killing of Glenn where it appeared he died because the actor’s name was missing from the next episode. Was that done on purpose to gauge the audience’s response to the season finale?
Kirkman: No, definitely not. When a show has been around as long as The Walking Dead, it’s just a matter of trying to do things that are different. I think the thing [executive producer] Scott [Gimple] and I are always hearing is: “Why did you kill this character? Bring this character back! Don’t do this! Do that!” We thought how would this work if a character were to die and be brought back? How would the audience react? It’s just really an exploration of how we tell stories and trying to avoid tropes. Somewhat of a storytelling experiment, but it wasn’t in any way a precursor event or fan expectations or anything like that.
11. Is anyone not going to die?
Kirkman: I know what the conclusion is going to be. I know there are certain people who are going to be around for that. I might change my mind on the ending entirely, which is cool. I still maintain that no one is safe, but there are characters who will survive until the end of the book—which is not many.
12. Why are the undead in The Walking Dead referred to as “walkers”?
Kirkman: I always did roamers, lurkers and all that other stuff. But the main reason I didn’t use the word zombie was that I didn’t want anybody to be reminded of the fact that there is no zombie lore in The Walking Dead. It’s really important when we were starting out that we had a moment where the character goes, “Oh, it’s like those things from Guerrero movies. You just shoot ’em in the head. That’s cool.” I wanted it to be a world where this is a phenomenon that no one has ever heard of. And I felt like using that term would be constantly reminding people of zombie movies, zombie fiction and that kind of thing. That’s why we avoid it.
13. Will The Walking Dead ever coincide with Fear the Walking Dead? Are they on the same timeline?
Kirkman: They aren’t on the same timeline, because Fear the Walking Dead starts while Rick Grimes is in a coma. So Fear the Walking Dead happens to a certain extent inside of The Walking Dead season one. For them to coincide when The Walking Dead is on season seven and Fear the Walking Dead is on season one would be crazy. But as far as if those characters will ever encounter one another, they’re in the same universe. It’s completely possible, but geographically they are nowhere near each other and so it would be somewhat farfetched if Group A were to encounter Group B. Unless, over the course of many, many seasons, but there’s really no plans right now. But I wouldn’t rule it out. There’s a 0.001 perecent chance. Maybe.
14. What made you choose AMC instead of Pay-Per-View channels? Could you have gotten away with more on the other channels?
Kirkman: I actually did get to choose AMC, because of the way the deals were working out. I picked that network because it was the network that did Mad Men and Breaking Bad, which were two extremely elevated, grounded dramas that cultivated an audience. Like, if it were on the Syfy channel, people would have looked at The Walking Dead in a certain way. But also, AMC, in all the negotiations, they worked out everything. They were going to do this the right way, get this on air in October, and they had this really cool thing they did—Fearfest, where every October they would just run horror movies for the entire month. And the thing that made it so interesting, in doing The Walking Dead as a show, was during that month, that was the highest ratings that they got out of the year. And more people watched horror movies on AMC in October than they ever watched Mad Men and Breaking Bad at the time. I knew they had a vested interest in actually making it happen. It seemed like a better bet in getting the thing made.
15. Will you ever dive into what caused the zombie apocalypse and do you think there’ll be a cure developed?
Kirkman: Definitely no cure. I know what caused the zombie apocalypse, but it’s boring so I’m never going to say. To me, the story isn’t about that. It’s about these people surviving. If Rick Grimes were to find a scientist and the guy was like, “Yeah, we know what caused it.” Rick would be like, “That information absolutely helps me zero. So?” It wouldn’t affect him at all.
16. [Executive producer] Greg Nicotero does a lot of cameos as walkers on the show.
Kirkman: He likes to say that he is the only one who knows how to bite a certain way or move a certain way or work with the prosthetics a certain way. But I also think that Greg likes to be on camera.
Any chance to see you on screen?
Kirkman: No! I’ve seen people in zombie makeup and it’s not comfortable. Also, here’s the thing: A lot of people are like, “Why aren’t there fat zombies on The Walking Dead?” Well, I’ll tell you why! To make a zombie look like a zombie, you have to add stuff. People who make the best zombies are people who have small heads. So, if you were to turn me into a zombie, I would look like a pumpkin walking around. I would not make a good zombie. I like cheeseburgers; I’m not going to make a good zombie.
17. If Maggie dies while pregnant, does the baby eat its way out?
Kirkman: I’m glad you asked, but, no, the baby does not eat its way out. It wouldn’t be a zombie baby that suddenly has superpowers, because it has all the strengths and abilities of a baby. It wouldn’t bite them, because babies don’t have teeth. It wouldn’t claw them out. Babies inside of wombs are monsters in and of themselves: They’re kicking, stretching and punching—and doing everything they can to get out and it doesn’t work, because they’re babies! There are no zombie superpowers.
18. I have a stupid question: Do you like zombies?
Kirkman: These days? Meh! [Laughs] There are days when I’m like, “I can’t look at another zombie.” And those are the days when I write Invincible and it all works out. I’m surrounded by zombies. I love The Walking Dead. I love working on it. I love that it’s grown, but when I’m on set I don’t want to be those guys. They’re scary.
What question would you want to ask Robert Kirkman? Comment below.
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