‘Walking Dead’s’ Robert Kirkman Dispels Fired Writers Rumor, Wants Stephen King

Robert Kirkman Walking Dead Split 2011
Getty Images; AMC
He hopes the success of the AMC show leads to more TV projects based on graphic novels.

With Marvel’s Thor opening at No. 1 at the box office, NBC weighing its decision to pick up its David E. Kelley-penned Wonder Woman reboot and AMC’s The Walking Dead already garnering Emmy buzz, it’s safe to say that comics have gone from geek to chic.

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with The Walking Dead comics creator and series writer/executive producer Robert Kirkman on Free Comic Book Day to discuss the impact comics are having on TV, his hopes for the fanboy industry and what’s ahead for the drama’s second season.
THR: With three pilots -- a Wonder Woman reboot at NBC, Locke and Key at Fox and Powers at FX -- what do you think of the current surge of comic-based material on TV?
Kirkman: Comics are a great source for entertainment. More so than movies, I think that comic books kind of fit some of us really well because for the most part they are continuing stories that are told from month-to-month, or multiple years. That’s really a format that translates great in TV. I hope all the people that are enjoying all these fantastic TV shows coming from comics will take a look at the original source material and see all the great success it has to offer.

THR: The Walking Dead is really taking advantage of that, not only continuing with ongoing issues but also reissuing comics including The Walking Dead Weekly.
Kirkman: A lot of people that are finding the series because of the television show. I couldn’t be happier about that. Anything that gets the word out about comics is great to me.

THR: How much do you think the resurgence of comic source material on TV is attributable to the success of The Walking Dead?
Kirkman: I think AMC’s marketing team was spot-on with every single thing that they did. Because of the power of [series creator/executive producer/director] Frank Darabont and Gale Anne Hurd, a terrific show came together. It’s been the one that has people going, “Oh, this is something this can be done.”

I’m really thankful that the success of The Walking Dead has had and I hope it’s leading to more graphic novels being picked up and turned into television shows, as opposed to more zombie shows. I think it’s great that networks aren’t just going, “OK, well, we can do a zombie show and we’ll have similar success,” but actually taking a look at the source material, which in a way, is a better move on their part.

THR: Are they any other graphic novels you think networks should be looking at right now?
Kirkman: There’s a thing called Chew that has just been picked up by Showtime. I think that’s going to be a pretty amazing show. There’s a book called Morning Glories that Image put out written by Nick Spencer, which is like Lost at a boarding school and I think that is a comic book that would translate really well into TV.

Ed Brubaker has a booked called Criminal that’s about the criminal underworld and these interconnectors and stories with different criminals doing different crimes. I think that would make an excellent TV show. The fact of the matter is you can’t walk into a comic store without walking into a hundred different comic books that would make great TV shows. So, it’s really kind of exciting.

THR: What about your latest effort, Super Dinosaur. Is that Hollywood friendly?
Kirkman: If anybody’s out there who wants to do a cartoon, I’m open to that. But right now, my main focus is just getting the comic book series off the ground and see how it goes.

THR: Looking ahead to Season 2 of The Walking Dead, is there a staff of writers or are you using freelancers as had been speculated?
Kirkman: We have a full writing staff; there are three full-time staff writers and a freelancer: Evan Reilly (Rescue Me), Scott Gimple (FlashForward) and Angela Kang (Terriers) and one freelancer.

Darabont and [new executive producer] Glen Mazzara and myself are all working on the show. All that reporting about the writers being fired and going freelance, that was all something that never really happened.

THR: Any update on Stephen King writing an episode?
Kirkman: That’s been discussed a little bit. Everyone involved on both sides of that are very anxious to make that happen; AMC is excited; Frank Darabont is excited; I’m excited. I know Stephen King and Joe Hill are excited. We’ll see if we can make that come together. I can neither confirm nor deny. (Laughs.)

THR: You’re picked up for 13 episodes for Season 2 starting in October. Is it going to be a straight run-through or will there be a hiatus?
Kirkman: I can’t really speak about that. I think there’s probably going to be some announcements that AMC would like to make and I wouldn’t want to step all over their marketing game.
THR: Has production started?
Kirkman: We’re well into the show; scripts are all completed and the final touches are being made and I think he cameras will be rolling in a few weeks. We’re all very excited to get back to Atlanta and sweat.
THR: Where will Season 2 pick up? The last we saw Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and company were leaving the CDC after the explosion.
Kirkman: The last time we saw our characters, they were loaded up into the RV and they were driving away from the CDC. We will definitely see where that caravan is going and follow them on their journey. So, pretty much where we get blown up.
THR: How long will it be until we find out what Jenner (Noah Emmerich) whispered to Rick before the CDC blew up in the finale?
Kirkman: I think that was a great change on Frank’s part and I really liked that he’s adding things that keeps people guessing. I certainly enjoyed watching people play the guessing game online. This isn’t a scene that’s going to be seen without any payoff. We’re not going to be dragging that on to the point of exhaustion. And it will be done when the time is right.
THR: Will we see Merle (Michael Rooker) in Season 2?
Kirkman: All I can really say is that everyone loves Michael Rooker.
THR: When are we going to meet machete-wielding bad-ass Michonne?
Kirkman: Maybe Season 3. Frank and everybody involved in the show love her and we’re all very interested in working her into the show.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com

Twitter: @LesleyGoldberg