Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead comic and Executive Producer of the series, explains what it’s like to bring his story to life and witness the end of the world (or at least the end of Atlanta) in the process.
Warning: The following contains plot spoilers for The Walking Dead comic series.
Q: You started writing The Walking Dead in 2003. What’s it like to finally be on set?
A: “Surreal,” I guess, is a word I’ve been saying a lot. “Amazing” is another word. I was on a movie set last summer that was like a big budget blockbuster, and before I got out here I told myself, “I’m not going to be seeing the same kind of stuff because they don’t have a budget like a summer blockbuster.” But you know what? It’s almost bigger. The first day I was here was the day after they had flipped the car and there was a big shootout that we saw. It was just absolutely mind-blowing.
Q: Are you finding things are being physically realized as you had imagined them?
A: Everyone is really trying to do good by the comic, and there are scenes that are straight out of it. I think that fans are just going to be thrilled. But at the same time, [Frank Darabont] is vastly improving the material. And there are things here and there that along the way I should have caught, but didn’t. There’s some amazing stuff he added for Morgan’s character in the Pilot episode that’s just not in the comic. It was back story, but he handles it in a way that just really brings it to the forefront. It’s like, Morgan, that guy is an awesome character!
Q: You commented last week about how psyched you were to see Andrew Lincoln portraying Rick –
A: I don’t see how anyone couldn’t see Rick. I don’t see how Andrew Lincoln’s wife, like 2 years ago, wasn’t like, “Oh Hey Rick, how ya doing?” This guy just eats, drinks and sleeps Rick Grimes. Steven Yeun, the actor playing Glenn, was on set for the first time yesterday. He walked over and said hello to Andrew Lincoln. They were chatting, and I looked over and I was like, “That’s Rick talking to Glenn!”
Q: You’re writing one of the episodes this season. How does that experience compare to writing the comic?
A: It’s interesting because they’re not characters that I’m writing very much any more. I’m working on the book every month, but most of the people on the show are dead in the comic. Spoiler alert! [Laughs] I’m walking around set thinking to myself, “Yeah, I killed that guy. Yup, killed her. Probably gonna kill him next issue!” So it’s a different experience, and there are a lot of cool twists that are going to make the show entertaining for people who have read the comic. As far as me writing the stuff, it’s really cool to go back and play with these characters again that I haven’t been able to write in a while.
Q: Have you learned anything new about the characters the second time around?
A: It kind of makes me wish that Shane hadn’t died in Issue 6. Shane’s a really cool guy, and there’s a lot of story potential there. I blew through a lot of stuff that they’re kind of dwelling on a little bit more here. So yeah, there are places where I’m like, “Oh man I wish I’d done it this way.” And that’s kind of neat.
Q: You were on set to witness hordes of zombies invading Atlanta. What was that like?
A: That was probably the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. A three by three block square of Atlanta was shut down so that they could move around corners and go down streets. It was more than I ever expected seeing, and you could get to a certain point in the area that they were shooting, and kind of turn around in a 360 degree view, and that’s like, “OK here’s what it’s like at the end of the world, and I’m standing in the middle of it.” They had trucks turned over and a burned out bus, they had all the stores closed and dressed to look like the windows had all been cracked. And then all of a sudden, here’s hundreds of zombie extras walking around.
Q: What are you looking forward to most in the next 8 weeks of production?
A: I’m looking forward to being on set for my episode, and getting to see that kind of stuff. Because there’s a lot of cool stuff that happens in every episode. There’s an entire list I could go down, but I’d ruin the entire season for you. Everything that they’re going to be cramming into every episode I cannot wait to see them pull off. And I know they’re going to be pulling it off in an amazing way. It’s non-stop awesome over here at the set of The Walking Dead.
Q: That sounds like the perfect way to end this conversation, Robert.
A: [Laughs] Good.