The Walking Dead Creator Robert Kirkman on Zombies, Adaptations, and the Amazing Arizona Comic Convention this Weekend
The Amazing Arizona Comic Convention flies into Mesa Convention Center this weekend, and though it's AACC's first appearance on the Valley's rich fan convention scene, it's starting out super -- largely because they've got Robert Kirkman, writer of The Walking Dead series, as a headline guest.
The Walking Dead (Image Comics) centers around a group of people trying to survive on the road after a zombie apocalypse. It's light on gratuitous gore (though there's some dismemberment and disembodied, gurgling heads) and heavy on character psychology. Kirkman's series about people fighting external and internal monsters won the 2010 Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series at San Diego Comic-Con International, and a TV adaption of The Walking Dead premiered on AMC last fall. The show's nominated this year for a Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series Drama, and will return for a second season on AMC this October.
We recently caught up with Kirkman to talk about zombies, TV shows, and comic conventions.
Why are zombies so fascinating?
Aside from them looking cool and being fairly entertaining, I think there's some kind of subconscious representation of our own fears of death in there that make it somewhat compelling. It's kind of a physical representation of the unrelenting, unstoppable possibility of death that looms over all of our lives at all times. I think there's probably a primal element to our personalities, and what kind of entertainment we like, and I think that kind of taps into that.
How did George Romero's zombie movies influence The Walking Dead?
Those movies always have tons of interesting characters dealing with zombies, and when the running time of the movie runs out, they either ride off into the sunset -- or most of them die -- but there's always some kind of really hurried resolution. It always occurred to me that I'd like to see what comes next. I'd like to see where the people who get into the helicopter at the end of Dawn of the Dead land. I'd like to see how they continue to live in this world. Nobody had done a continuing zombie story that focused on the same characters and followed their lives for years and years, as they continue to survive. So that's really where the idea for The Walking Dead came from.
How does the post-apocalyptic environment in The Walking Dead influence and change the characters in your story?
Different characters are influenced and changed in any number of different ways. That's part of the fun of The Walking Dead, seeing how these different people react to the same situations in different ways. You'll see characters that start out being good twisting over to the dark side and becoming bad people, and you'll see bad people doing the exact opposite and becoming somewhat heroic over time, just because of things that they're living through. It's just a lot of fun to see characters pushed to their breaking point, and some of these characters snap and lose their minds, and some of these characters rise to the occasion and find strength they never knew they had. So any number of things could be happening to any member of the cast at any point, which is part of the charm.
Are you happy with the television adaptation of The Walking Dead? Is it true to the graphic novels?
Absolutely. It's true to the graphic novels in spirit, in that all the characters are who they're supposed to be and the tone is there, and everything is pretty well translated. But I like that the television show is going to divert from the story from time to time and tell new stories and new material that people who are fans of the comic book series aren't familiar with and won't be bored with. That's what I wanted out of the show, was for it to be a good portion of the comic book getting adapted, but there's always new stuff thrown in to keep everybody guessing.
What do you like about coming to conventions like the Amazing Arizona Comic Con?
I enjoy being able to meet with the fans and talk with them one-on-one, and get their sense of what they like and what they don't like, and have face-to-face meetings with all of the different people who support my books and watch the TV show...I'm really looking forward to meeting my bosses, I guess is a good way to think of it, and give them a chance to yell at me if they don't like things, and be nice to me if they do.
Robert Kirkman is scheduled to appear at the Amazing Arizona Comic Convention, taking place Saturday and Sunday, January 8 and 9 at Mesa Convention Center, 263 N. Center Street. Weekend passes cost $25; Sunday-only passes cost $15. Visit amazingarizonacomiccon.com for more information.
Get the Arts and Theater Newsletter
Weekly information keeping you in the know when it comes to the Phoenix art and theater scene. Find out about upcoming performances, exhibitions, openings and special events.