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Robert Kirkman talks about The Walking Dead TV show

Posted by LiveFor on September 7, 2009

WalkingDead16Back in the middle of August I posted the news that Frank Darabont was going to direct an AMC TV show of Robert Kirkman’s excellent zombie comic, The Walking Dead. Now CBR have a brilliant interview with Kirkman about the series and it all sounds very promising indeed.

When asked in the past about a “Walking Dead” film, you’ve suggested that a television series would work better. What makes TV a better platform for the series?

ROBERT KIRKMAN: That’s the only thing that really makes sense to me. The thing that makes “The Walking Dead” unique and interesting is that it’s a zombie movie that never ends – that’s the log line or whatever. To do a zombie movie that’s based on that? Kinda dumb. The whole idea behind the book is that it’s a long-term exploration on the characters and their situation and how they’re dealing with these problems over a long period of time, the different things that happen to the characters and how it affects and changes the characters. You can do that in a series of movies, but it’s not ideal. It’s not really common for people to go, “Oh, I’ll buy this thing and commit to making 10 movies based on it!” So, the TV show makes way more sense to me for all of those reasons.

I’m really happy that “Walking Dead” has ended up at AMC. I think it’s a superb network that has a lot of good stuff going on right now, but more importantly has a lot of really big things planned for the future. I’m super excited that “Walking Dead” is now a part of that future.

How did Frank Darabont get involved in the show?

He got involved a long time ago when the show almost happened at NBC. I didn’t really talk about it at the time because everything was very up in the air and I don’t really like to announce things that may or may not ever happen. “Oh, there’s an option on this thing and it’s coming to whatever,” then nothing comes up. So we didn’t make any public announcements about that, but Frank came on board and was going to write and direct the pilot then, and that didn’t end up happening. But he kind of stayed on the sidelines and said, “Hey, if this ever happens, let me know. Let’s do this.” He’s been working to put it together for a good, long time.

I’ve known Frank for a while at this point and he likes the book and has read every single issue. I quiz him from time to time just to make sure he’s staying current! He digs the comic for what it is – he doesn’t think it’s an action thing, he doesn’t think it’s a gory horror thing. When working with different Hollywood people who have tried to develop “Walking Dead” in the past, I’ve been kind of shocked at how easy it is to not get “The Walking Dead.” Frank has really got it. I think it’s in good hands.

How closely is the show going to stick to the comic?

It’ll be 110% faithful in tone, but I don’t know that every single character will be exactly the same and I don’t know if every single character will actually make it into the show, just because there are about 45 characters in the comic so far. But like I said, it’s very early on in the process. We very well could end up with every character in there, I don’t really know. It’s going to be extremely faithful, but personally, I don’t want it to be a shot-for-shot, panel-to-panel translation of the comic book. I think that would be incredibly boring for me and incredibly boring for everyone that reads the book. If it was a cool “Walking Dead” story that featured the characters and all of the cool stuff was in there, but more, different cool stuff gets added in there, I think that’s the best way to do it.

In terms of the story beats, “Walking Dead” is pretty brutal on an emotional level – you lose a lot of the characters that readers have grown to love, almost unfairly at times. Do you think that’s something you can translate to TV?

I don’t know. I don’t work in TV. It seems like it’s doable, but at the same time, if you get a big actor to agree to do a part, you may not be inclined to kill that guy quickly. So, I don’t know. I’m sure that people will die in this, I’m not sure if it’ll be as frequently as in the comic book, because it is kind of brutal.

At the same point, I know that there are a lot of people in Hollywood that are fans of the comic, so it’d be nice if we could get guys that wouldn’t normally do a television series to kind of do something like “The Walking Dead” for a six or seven episode stretch knowing that they’re going to be killed! [laughs] That’s not really a long commitment for these guys, so that is my hope. But like I’ve said, it’s really early on in the process so I don’t know how that will work.

How involved in the show do you plan or hope to be?

If it goes past the pilot, I’ll be writing episodes and looking over the storylines for the series and I’ll be pretty hands on. I will be as hands on as working in comics will allow me to be. If it gets to a point where the work in comics is slowing up, I’ll step back and leave [the series] in the very capable hands of whoever’s working on the show. But I’m an executive producer on the show, so I can be as involved as I want to be. Right now, I want to be very involved, just to make sure it’s as awesome as I think it’s going to be.

My main commitment is to the comics. I want to be the first guy in history that’s gotten a movie or TV deal and continued to put out his comic series uninterrupted. As a fan, I hate it when it’s like, “Oh, that’s awesome, there’s gonna be a TV show… and now the comic is gone. What the F!” I’ve already talked to Charlie Adlard [the artist of “The Walking Dead”] about it and we definitely want to keep the series without interruptions. So, that comes first.

This sounds like it could well be the ultimate zombie tale and hopefully it will get a chance to find its feet. Are you looking forward to The Walking Dead TV show? Who would you like to see star in it?

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