On the same day as The Walking Dead’s season 5 premiere, Robert Kirkman took some time to talk about his Image Comics, Skybound, with fans and fellow creators on the final day of New York Comic Con.
Kirkman and the capacity crowd were joined by Outcast artist Paul Azaceta, Ghosted and Birthright writer Josh Williamson, Birthright artist Andrei Bressan and Techjacket artist Khary Randolph. The panel was moderated by Skybound Editorial Director Sean Mackiewicz.
News about the Outcast TV show was at the top of the panel. Kirkman said that a pilot should be shot by the end of the year but then he jumped right into Williamson and Bressan’s Birthright.
“You’ve gotta see it,” said Kirkman. “It’s really amazing.
Birthright follows the story of a little boy who goes missing is the woods. His disappearance tears his family apart as his father is accused of his murder. But one year later, he returns. But he’s now a full grown adult who looks like Conan. He was wished away by these mythical creatures, fulfilled his destiny to defeat an evil lord in a fantasy land and now, he just wants to see his mom and dad.
Williamson explained that the concept came to him when he started thinking about destiny and how so many films end once the hero saves the day but there’s no explanation about how they go back to normal life.
“When I was a kid, I watched all these movies like “Goonies” and “Monster Squad,” he said. “These kids all go on these adventures and come back like nothing happened. After you fight a dragon, do you just go back to playing kickball?”
Artist Andrei Bressan explained, through a translator, how he got involved with Birthright and some of the struggles he faced.
“[I] was looking for a new project,” he said. “[My] main concern was how to create a new and different world. [It was] quite a challenge to combine horror, drama and fantasy.”
The panel shifted gears as Kirkman dug into some of his own properties.
Walking Dead fans were treated to the revelation of a Clementine action figure as well as the “Bloody” variant based on the surprise star of the hit video games from Telltale Games. McFarlane Toys designed the figure. Kirkman then turned to the comic, and revealed some of the direction of the plot.
“There’s a big threat on the horizon,” he said. “We’re going to be exploring that in-depth starting in #133.”
Mackiewicz pull up the cover of Invincible #115 featuring fan-favorite character Battle Beast and Kirkman explained the next step for Mark and Eve’s story now that Robot has taken over the world. Invincible is almost forced to head to space.
“In Invincible, we play with tropes. The bad guy totally won and not only did he win but everyone loves him,” said Kirkman. “[This] puts us in a place where we can give Ryan Ottley some things to draw that will give him a heart attack.”
Tech Jacket artist Khary Randolph talked about the appeal of working on that book.
“[It’s] the kind of book I would’ve loved when I was 13,” he said. “It’s a book for all ages. It’s a good time.”
Williamson recapped the plot of Ghosted and promised fans that the next arc, “Ghost Town,” would get “super dark.”
Mackiewicz pulled up art from Thief of Thieves #25 and Kirkman said that it would be a culmination of the first two years of the book.
The panel opened up for questions from the audience, most of which focused on The Walking Dead and the potential for other Skybound properties to be adapted into other mediums.
Kirkman confirmed that readers would see more about Negan’s backstory but also that it’s unlikely for Clementine to show up in the comics or the TV show. An Invincible animated feature has been discussed but they “haven’t moved forward. The Thief of Thieves show is “definitely still in the works” as well.
One fan asked what inspired the panel to make comics that they make and Kirkman summed up his history perfectly and hilariously.
“In general, I loved comics from an early age and I’m not good at anything else,” he said. “My goal was to do a comic for 100 issues. I achieved that so now I’m just bored. Now I just buy Transformers toys and coast.”