Image Expo 2014: I is for Infectious

Maya Zach ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Photo of Robert Kirkman by Maya Zach of Emertainment Monthly.
Photo of Robert Kirkman by Maya Zach of Emertainment Monthly.

Robert Kirkman, comic book writer and founder of the Skybound imprint of Image Comics, took the stage for a solid hour of audience Q&A with moderation by editor Sean Mackiewicz.

Though the questions ranged in subject, the main two topics of discussion were Kirkman’s long-running zombie series, The Walking Dead, and new series Outcast.

When writing The Walking Dead comics, Kirkman likes to surprise himself as much as his readers. He makes major decisions quickly—even hastily—and doesn’t let himself second-guess them. This makes the story more spontaneous, unpredictable, and realistic. And is probably the main cause of character deaths.

When an audience member hinted at the fact that The Walking Dead was selling out, Kirkman joked, “if Disney is listening, there is a number.” But Kirkman is very intent on keeping the series contained. Rather than making spinoff comics, he chose to keep the series “pure.” The comics are completely linear and easy to follow, unlike many superhero series. He insists that the novels and the video games are completely unnecessary to the story; they are solely an addition that gives the devoted fans further ways to interact with the series. The merchandise, on the other hand, has gotten rather out of hand. This is mainly due to AMC, which Kirkman has no control over.

Robert Kirkman’s is pairing with Paul Azaceta to create Outcast, a story about demonic possession that will hit stands this June. Where The Walking Dead’s tension was based on the survival aspects of the apocalypse, Outcast will be fueled by the sheer creepiness in both the story and art. When discussing Outcast, Kirkman seems incredibly eager; it is clear that the comic speaks to him on a personal level. This passion will bring the story to the next level. Plus, Kirkman admits that he can’t script at night because it is just that terrifying. What more can one ask from a horror comic?

Kirkman confirmed that Tech Jacket Digital, the 3-part addition to Tech Jacket, which is currently sold exclusively as a digital comic, will be compiled in physical form in the future. He and Image Comics are testing the waters for digital launches. They are interested in discovering whether the hype from the digital comic will increase the purchases of the physical edition.

Kirkman also spoke a bit about his work habits. He typically works from 9am to 6pm every weekday, taking nights and weekends off. This gives him time to spend with his family and space to think about things other than his comics. In his writing, he borrows a lot from his personal life, whether it’s situations or character concepts. And though he works on numerous projects, each book has its own separate universe in his mind, so they tend not to overlap and obstruct each others’ growth.

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