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The Walking Dead comic book creator and series executive producer answers your questions about why "walkers" aren't referred to as "zombies," what his hopes are for Season 2 and why being a zombie might not be so bad after all.
Q: How do you think your zombie tale differs from all those that have come before? -- Eric Converset
A: Probably the most prominent difference is the fact that it does continue. There's never really been any kind of zombie story that follows the cast for an unusual amount of time, and we're going to get to see these characters grow and evolve. I think that's the most interesting aspect of the show, and probably the biggest difference.
Q: Why don't your characters call the walkers "zombies"? -- Erica Badu
A: The main reason is because "zombie" is a term that we are accustomed to hearing, and when the characters run around saying "zombie" it takes you out of the story. This is supposed to take place in a world where no one has ever heard of a zombie before. So we just don't use that word. Everyone they encounter will have different names for zombies. Some people are calling them "geeks" in the show. I think we will eventually find a group of people that call them "roamers" and "lurkers" and "biters" like in the comic.
Q: The comic book series didn't include a story about the CDC. What is the motivation behind that part of the show? -- Andrew Neisess
A: That was something Frank [Darabont] came at me with very early on. And I think that it's a good idea: When you're in that area, and there exists something like the CDC, it's only logical that those people would seek that out in order to get answers. I don't think that the fact that it didn't happen in the comic book is a good enough reason not to do it. I liked the addition of Dr. Jenner and the different things that came about from their time there. And for any purists that are angry about it, all I would say is the episode ends with them in an RV, going off down an open road. For all we know they're five miles away from Hershel's farm. I can't wait to see Hershel's farm. I think that would be a cool storyline. I would like to see Maggie, Glenn's love interest. I'm anxious to see who's going to play Michonne, and how she's going to be played on screen. That'd be pretty cool.
Q: What was the thought process behind deciding to have the Shane subplot go on longer? -- Joshua Beane
A: Well that is a good example of fixing something that I should have done in the comic book. When I was writing it, I didn't know if the book would last six issues or twelve issues or three issues. So my mode of operation was to get all of the cool stuff out and move on to more cool stuff so I could get as much story in the printed issues as I could before the book was canceled. It was, "There's a great love triangle. OK it's over. Let's move on." Frank is able to come in and go, "Hey, there's a lot of value to this story, and this Shane character is very interesting." His story line is great, Jon Bernthal is an amazing actor and I want to see more of that guy on the show. And it's a very cool thing because now he has already lived past the point where he died in the comic book, so he's a complete unknown for fans. I want them to be watching the show unsure of what's going to happen next, because that's the best part of reading the comic.
Q: Who is your favorite character so far in the TV series, and does it differ from your favorite character in the comic? -- Megan Wallace
A: I hate to play favorites, and everybody's doing a good job, but screw it: Daryl Dixon is probably my favorite character. And there's a very clear reason for this... He's new to me and he's exciting to me. Rick is super-exciting for the viewers, but I know Rick. I've been writing Rick for almost eight years... Norman Reedus playing Daryl, he's just a great addition to the cast. I love his behavior, I love his dialogue, I love his crossbow! I'm so jealous that I haven't had anybody use a crossbow in the comic book. I was totally asleep at the wheel on that one. I need to get some crossbow action in the comic now!
Q: What's your favorite type of scene to write for The Walking Dead? -- Isaac Cole
A: The ones where people die. [Laughs] When we were deciding which script I was going to write, we were talking about Episode 4, and I knew that the attack was planned to fall around that time, and that's where Amy was going to die. And I was thinking to myself, "Oh yes. I will totally take the episode where people die. That is what I want to do." And I just love the fact that on the TV show there's not really any major character deaths until I come in and write my scripts. I kind of want to make that a mandate: If you want me to write an episode, I have to be able to kill somebody. I do feel bad about it, though, because killing characters is firing actors.
Q: What are the differences you faced between writing a comic book script and a TV script? -- schizorabbit
A: The formats are mostly similar, but the comic book scripts I write are a little bit more hands-on, more visual direction than a television screenplay. But one of the cool things about writing a television script is you have the benefit of working with a writer's room. So I spent weeks working on the story with a group of guys and Frank before one word was ever typed. When I write a comic book, it's just full steam ahead: I think of something and decide to do it at the same time. But when you're writing a television show, you think of an idea and then four guys pick it apart, poke holes in it and through that process improve it. So I quite enjoyed the process.
Q: If you ever got bit by a zombie, would you want to be "taken care of" or let yourself turn? -- Jessica Bolton
A: I would totally let myself turn. You don't even know what's going to happen when you turn into a zombie. And dying is such an unknown -- I don't know what's going to happen when I die. But I've seen zombies walking around, and they don't seem unhappy. For all you know, you're in some kind of sunshine land and everyone looks like a drumstick. Maybe I'll eat my loved ones and they'll be zombies too and we'll all be happy.
Q: Should the apocalypse occur, what would you take with you when fleeing your home? -- Jennifer Joseph
A: My life. I would commit suicide very early on in a zombie apocalypse, just because I've been writing this book for almost eight years and it seems like a living hell. I'm not suicidal -- I'm a happy-go-lucky guy -- but oh Lordy, I would not want to live in that world. There are no cheeseburgers in the apocalypse, and I'm kind of partial to those things. And also, to completely negate the previous answer: I would not want to be bitten by a zombie. God that would horrible, can you imagine? I've been bitten by a child before and it is just awful.
Q: Is that skunk your pet? - Matt Day
A: I was bitten by a skunk during my photo shoot. [Laughs] That's Millie my pet skunk. I keep her here with me in backwoods Kentucky. And she eats mostly cabbage. She's de-skunked, so she doesn't have those glands. De-glanded and de-clawed, she's a very docile creature.