The Walking Dead is launching the survivors into "All Out War."
That's what Robert Kirkman, writer and creator of the series, has been teasing for the last several months. The series will come out twice a month for the duration of this in-comic event, reflecting the fast pace of a battle of this magnitude.
"'All Out War' is such a huge story, it’s not something that I want people to have to wait an entire year to see the outcome of this war," Kirkman told Newsarama at Comic-Con International: San Diego in July. "So I thought it would be really cool for [artist] Charlie [Adlard] and I to pick up the pace and put the issues out more frequently, make the storyline seem a little bit more special.
Also, the story is going to have an intense pace in the single issues. So I want people to not have to wait really long for the next installment, because it would be maddening in some cases."
To help prepare readers for the war, Image Comics hosted a conference call for select members of the press and Skybound's head honcho Kirkman to find out a little more about the series.
Kirkman started by telling us about the storyline in general. "Really every issue of The Walking Dead has lead up to this. It's a substantial evolution to how the story will go from here on out." Kirkman teased that civilization is rebuilding, which means changes for the way people will seek to survive longterm.
The issue also kicks off the tenth anniversary of the series with "a lot of cool stuff." He does promise there will be "people dying" in this arc, as well.
Talking about the biweekly schedule, Kirkman joked that artist Charlie Addard "is fine, it's me that needs help!" They brought in an inker to help Addard, which actually gives the art "a cool, unique feel to it" as shown in the preview art below.
First press question from Albert Ching of CBR, how even is the playing field between these factions?
Kirkman says "it seems very lopsided, but that won't be the status quo for the storyline. There will be some upheaval, and some people will be stronger than they appear. That three community unity might not continue throughout the storyline."
Next, from us, Are you trying to prevent the idea of a "status quo" from ever hitting this series?
Kirkman, "I'm trying to keep it realistic, and I don't feel like there'd ever be a chance for a real status quo to stay around for years and years. Change is a big aspect, the ever-shifting, ever-evolving status quo is a big part of that, so yeah, it's definitely part of the story I'm trying to tell."
The story is a twelve issue storyline, and Patrick from MTV Geek asked about the pacing of the storyline's change - as well as the pacing for the next story after it.
Kirkman, "It's always building up to something bigger. The way this storyline will be told, it's a war, there's a lot going on, and it will be very fast-paced. I do plan on telling a lot of story over these 12 issues, I don't want to tell 6 issues of story across 12. There will be a lot of story told."
Back to CBR. With the large cast, who are some of the supporting characters that might step up in a big way in this story?
Kirkman, "Holly, a lot will be done with her in this storyline. Heath is another character to look out for. There will be more with Maggie at the hilltop, who hasn't been around much since #100. We'll also see a lot of Eric. Jesus, Ezekiel, Rick, Andrea, Michonne, Carl, those characters."
What can you tease about the character deaths? Is it something where you hold off on a character's death for a major event like this?
"There've been a couple of times where I've intended on killing a character and they've gotten a stay of execution, but that's happened few and far between. I do always reserve the right to be mid-writing and suddenly decide, 'nope, that character is going to die.' So hopefully there will be a couple of moments like that that surprise me, that's what makes it fun to write. But there will be quite a few deaths, you can't have a war without casualties. There aren't really any characters that I've been thinking, "I want to kill that guy, thank god there's a war to do it now!"
MTV: Any particular stories to revisit in prep for this one?
Kirkman, "Of course, all of them! I think volume 12 was the big one, when Rick first came to the community. A lot of that comes to play in these issues."
Image Central: What do you channel to write Negan?
Kirkman, "He's a combination of things I have wanted to say to people but never had the balls to, or just things that make me chuckle. he's a horrible human being, I think of the absolute worst way to react to something, and it comes together.
"It's also fun to find new ways to string profanity into a sentence with as few non-profane words as possible.
"He's definitely the major villain right now. He could just decide on a whim to kill everyone, and has the ability to do that. He needs to be taken out at all costs. They may not realize just how dangerous this guy is. He is the center of this entire storyline, he and Lucille."
Last question, from us, it seems like, as we've talked about all these human factions, that they and maybe even we the readers seem to forget about the Walkers, is that coming into play here?
Kirkman, "That's kind of by design. I'm hoping that - and I may be ruining this a bit here by acknowledging it - that because of the last two storylines or so, some readers may have basically forgotten that this is a world populated by zombies. As the humans are fighting it out, they are looming on the horizon and are definitely still a threat. So that will definitely come to play in this story."