IGN talks to Robert Kirkman about AMC's game-changing season finale and what comic book elements might be in the hotly anticipated Season 2
December 6, 2010
(Warning to TV viewers who haven't read the comics: This Q&A contains spoilers about the Walking Dead comic book series, as well as potential spoilers for Season 2)
As much as we've all gotten used to shortened 12 to 13-episode cable seasons, AMC's even shorter six-episode first season of The Walking Dead definitely left us wanting more. In the finale, "TS-19," Rick, Lori, Shane, Daryl and the rest quickly found out that the CDC, which seemed like a dream come true (hot water!) was nothing more than a death trap. IGN had a chance to talk to comic book series creator/TV series exec producer, Robert Kirkman, about the episode, which raised a ton of new questions for rabid fans of the comic book series.
Yes, Shane's still alive and heading into Season 2 to cause problems for Rick and Lori (along with the mysterious whisper from Jenner), but what else is in store for us next year?
IGN: Congratulations on a very successful Season 1. The finale truly delivered the unexpected.
Robert Kirkman: Awesome. Would you describe it as explosive?
IGN: Yes. It demolished me from the inside out.
IGN: Fans of the comic book series might be familiar with it, but do you think that it was a risky move to have a finale with hardly any zombies in it? From a TV standpoint?
Kirkman: Maybe, but I think we got to that point, where we focused more on the people, very quickly in this series and it's something that the comic book has been able to do fairly well too. The show has always been about the human characters and the zombies are just a backdrop. I think this sixth episode being largely zombie-free is a good example of the kind range that the series is going to be showing as time goes on. I think that most people would agree that, despite it being fairly zombie-free, it was still a compelling episode of television. Moving forward, I'm always excited about doing issues of the comic books that are zombie-free because that's the stuff that really interests me. Making sure that the comic is compelling enough to survive without the zombies. And so I think there'll be, looking ahead, the odd episode every now and again that has no zombies in it at all. And if we're doing our job right on the show, and I think that we are, people won't even notice.
Jon Bernthal, as Shane on the AMC series.
IGN: We all saw Shane live past his comic book death-date last week in "Wildfire," but now he's still alive and heading into Season 2! What was behind that decision?
Kirkman: This is a perfect example of the differences between the comic books and the television series and the kind of things you'll see on the show. Shane is now an "x-factor" on the television show for the comic books fans. They don't know when he's going to die, how he's going to die, or if he's going to die. Because everything's changed. So now it makes the show more interesting for the comic book fans because they don't know what's going to happen next. I think that's one of the best things going for this show. To keep fans guessing. The storyline between Shane and Rick and Lori - the love triangle – had I known the comic book series would last as long as it lasted and that it wasn't going to end at issue #6 or issue #12 then I would have probably extended that out a lot longer.
When Frank [Darabont] started reading the comic book series, way on in the early development of the show, he said "You know, there's a lot of story that we can mine out of this love triangle. We can do this, or this, and it can lead to this." He just had a lot of ideas that sprang directly from that and told me that it wasn't something he wanted to blow past like I did. He really wanted to get his hands into it and flesh it out. I think we've seen, over the course of the series, is that some of the best stuff in this show are things that were in the comic but Frank has expanded upon. Or changed them in a way that I feel has improved them. I think that the Lori/Shane/Rick story is a good example of that moving forward. Plus, Jon Bernthal is such a great actor that I don't know if we'll ever kill him. So, who knows?
IGN: Fans of your books all think that Jenner told Rick about Lori's pregnancy in the "whisper." Now we're not 100% sure that that's where the series is headed, but does it make things more interesting, if Lori's pregnant like she was in the comics, with Shane still in the picture?
Kirkman: Yes. Definitely. If we were to go in that direction, which still hasn't been officially determined, having Shane in the picture definitely makes a lot of things more interesting. And it's a big difference. And it's something that excites me a great deal going into Season 2. That we may, like Frank has said publically, go to Hershel's Farm and see those characters and experience all that stuff. But it's all going to be fundamentally changed because Shane is with them. It's a big difference. So there's a lot of new ground to cover. It's going to be awesome.
IGN: Now that Shane is still alive and T-Dog is still in the group, is there a need to meet up with characters like, say, Tyreese? Since there are already two other strong leaders in the group that can fill a certain role?
Kirkman: I don't know if there's necessarily a need for any of the characters, but they may show up or they may not. We'll see. I don't think that Shane and T-Dog living on in the series and continuing on into Season 2 precludes the introduction of Tyreese. I think those characters could definitely interact and exist on the show at the same time. It would also bring changes to how Tyreese's story would play out. There are a lot of unknowns moving into Season 2 and I think that people will be all the more excited because of that.
IGN: The CDC storyline doesn't mean that we won't see the "Gated Community" story play out, but there did seem to be certain similarities. They both involve our heroes finding a place that they think they can stay in, that's almost too good to be true, and then have to get the hell out quickly because it's actually horrible and deadly.
Kirkman: I think there are definitely some similar themes there. I can't really go into any detail as to what we're going to be doing for the next season or what we won't be doing. But I think we're certainly not going to be repeating ourselves and have Season 2 open up with them getting to a new place, feeling secure and then having to leave in a hurry. We wouldn't want to do the same thing so quickly. But there are things from the comic that we can still work in that weren't already ruined by the CDC storyline.
IGN: How did you feel about the characters getting let in on a bit of the science involved with the zombie virus? It's not anything we've seen in the comics.
Kirkman: I think it's a cool thing that the show has already gone further than the comic book ever did as far as explaining how things work and what is actually going on. I pushed for as many differences as possible just to keep things lively. I think it brings something extra to the show to have an added science element there and to be able to watch our characters learn more as they go along. It makes them more informed as to what's happening to everyone. But it is very key that they didn't actually find out what the root cause was and I think it's more important to keep that as an unknown. And that's something from the comic book that will definitely be carrying over into the television show.
Bonus interview with Jonah Weiland of CBR
tl;dw but highlights include:
- Blows off EW to talk to Comic Book Resources
- Dealing with the "more attractive" foreign press and his exhausting press schedule
- His involvement in the novels based on the comic book series
- Sales on the comic book - each issue breaks a new sales record for the title
- A possible "comics renaissance" brought on by digital media