Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard kicked off Friday’s "The Walking Dead 10th Anniversary" panel at New York Comic Con by jumping immediately into discussing their plans to celebrate the milestone.
"We're doing a lot of things to celebrate the anniversary,” said Kirkman. “We have a new storyline called 'All Out War' running through issue 120. We sold out of issue #115, the story’s start, with over 350,000 copies. That's our highest selling single issue yet." Kirkman also revealed that a second printing of The Walking Dead #115 with a gatefold cover is forthcoming.
Charlie Adlard then took over, explaining the arduous process of creating the ten interlocking covers for issue #115, which showcased many of the milestones of the comic’s ten year run. Adlard also quipped that #115 "also has the first zombie in the comic in like 30 issues." Kirkman chided him, "Don't get snarky."
Stefano Mattiano will be inking the next few issues over Adlard's pencils. This is Adlard's first time not inking his own art according to the artist.
"We sort of cherry picked Stefano because we felt he'd ink my work the same way I ink my work."
The covers for issues 116-120 are previewed, showing the characters reacting to something devastating. Along with showing the covers, Kirkman announced that Dave Stewart has joined the art team as a cover colorist, and also re-colored a special anniversary edition of issue #1. "You can look for a full color issue #2 for our 20th anniversary," Kirkman joked.
Additionally, The Walking Dead will be available in Spanish in the United States in December for the benefit of Spanish speaking readers. Next up was a look at The Art of Charlie Adlard.
"It's a book of me,” Adlard explained. “It’s filled with art! It's mostly to prove I don't just draw zombies." The book was created to go along with The Walking Dead’s anniversary. "It's a retrospective of my career of 20 years in comics,” said Adlard. Hearing this, Kirkman, feigning shock, asked "How old are you?" "...Very old,” responded Adlard.
There is a tenth anniversary gallery set up down the street from the convention showcasing the art of the comic along with props from the show. "We're all very worried that you'll steal Daryl's crossbow," Kirkman chided. Saturday will also see a NYCC edition of The Walking Dead Escape obstacle course run on the USS Intrepid.
Moving on to questions from the audience, a fan asked "Have you ever toyed around with flash forwards, like Carl as an adult?"
Kirkman replied, “Assuming Carl doesn't die soon, I'd rather keep the book going til he's grown up.”
A fan inquired about the comic’s use of black and white art as opposed to color, and whether the decision was designed to separate the audience from the book’s violence.
“We thought it would help the bottom line,” Kirkman explained, “but thematically it’s cool to see zombies in black and white. I also knew the series would be about a lot of gore, but I also wanted to tell these human dramas, and the black and white would help separate that.”
Adlard addressed his thoughts on the black and white style, saying, “I’ve always drawn with a lot of black. From my standpoint, it’s a great design tool.”
A fan wanted to know whether readers can expect more character specials.
“I did those primarily to tie into the introduction of the characters on the show, so you’ll see them go on. I can’t say which characters, but you may get a hint tomorrow at The Walking Dead TV panel,” Kirkman replied.
After spoiling the surprise death in The Walking Dead #100 with his question, a fan received a round of booing from the audience.
“Guys, you can bittorrent these comics, how have you not heard these spoilers?” Kirkman quipped. “Seriously though, please buy our comics. I have a family. Charlie, are there any other deaths you would like to spoil? What about #118?”
Said Adlard, “That’s a long list...”
Echoing the thoughts of many in the audience, a fan asked “When will we see the Dixons in the comics?”
“Never,” said Kirkman. “I like for people to be able to get different things in different versions of The Walking Dead. You never know what’s gonna happen to Daryl in the show. He may die.”
The last bit once again brought many plaintive cries from the crowd.The next fan inquired about the possibility of a spin-off comic.
“I don’t know if you guys heard about our new TV spin-off. It’s called The Dixon Brothers,” Kirkman joked. “We’re adding five more Dixon brothers, three of them are triplets all played by Norman Reedus. There’s a whole banjo episode. Oh, are you talking about the comic? No, I don’t want to do a spin-off comic. I want The Walking Dead to be a complete story in its own right.”
A fan asked whether any characters currently in the comic could take Rick’s place as the book’s lead character.
“I think we’ll see some interesting things from Maggie soon, and I think Andrea could handle it in the event of Rick’s untimely death,” Kirkman replied. “Not saying anything is gonna happen, but it probably will.”
Adlard added, “We could quite easily carry on without Rick,” iliciting gasps from the audience, and alluding to the possible ramifications of 'All Out War.'
Finally, a fan asked whether readers would ever see the origin of The Walking Dead’s zombie apocalypse.
“No,” said Kirkman, “I think that’s boring. The Walking Dead is pretty realistic aside from the zombies wandering around. Once you explain it, it veers too close to science fiction.”
That’s it from the Walking Dead 10th Anniversary panel at NYCC 2013!