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April 25, 2012

‘Walking Dead’: Robert Kirkman’s ‘softie’ side at Festival of Books

Posted in: Comics

robert kirkman ‘Walking Dead’: Robert Kirkmans ‘softie’ side at Festival of Books

Robert Kirkman on the set of AMC show "The Walking Dead." (Scott Garfield/AMC)

“The Walking Dead” is living large. Editions of the zombie series currently hold three of the top five spots on both the hardcover and paperback graphic novel New York Times bestseller lists, and this July Image Comics will publish the 100th issue.

“Sometimes I stop and go, ‘Issue 100 – really?’” the series’ writer Robert Kirkman said this weekend at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

twd2 gal rick portrait 060 ‘Walking Dead’: Robert Kirkmans ‘softie’ side at Festival of Books

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) of "The Walking Dead." (Matthew Welch/AMC)

Hero Complex lead writer Geoff Boucher led the discussion with Kirkman on USC’s campus Saturday.

Kirkman is in the rare position of being the sole writer on a long-lasting comic book while also holding a place in the writing room of the TV show adaptation.  A television script “is like a novel where the script itself is something that’s supposed to be read and be entertaining,” Kirkman said. “Comic book scripts – at least mine – are really ugly blueprints that are just something that the artist is meant to read.”

He explained that instructions like “just do whatever looks cool” works with artists but won’t fly with TV executives.

Kirkman also talked about the departure of show runner Frank Darabont from the TV show, admitting that it was “an ugly time” for the AMC series but that the transition to a new show runner for Season 2 was “completely seamless.”

Attendees at the event were clearly fans of the blood and guts moments on the show (as for Kirkman’s own zombie escape plan, he said, “I don’t have one… I don’t think I’d do very well”), but they were also quick to praise the writer’s ability to create scenes of emotional tension, provoking Kirkman to reveal that he’s “a bit of a softie.”

“People think that we’re crazy people that are like, ‘Alright let’s kill another baby. This will be hilarious!’” Kirkman said. “I have cried before while I’ve been writing.… My wife comes in the room, and I’m like ‘Get out! Get out!’ It does take an emotional toll on me.”

– Emily Rome

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