Robert Kirkman just can’t seem to relax. In between writing four comic book series, being Image Comics’ Chief Operating Officer and spending time with his family, the ubiquitous creator will also be involved in the TV adaptation of his topselling series “The Walking Dead” for AMC.
Kirkman talked to Newsarama about his involvement with the show. He also gave somewhat surprising answers about how faithful to the comic book he wants the show to be, and just how much blood and guts he expects the network behind “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” to let them get away with.
Newsarama: How involved will you be with the show? Will you be a consultant or a producer?
Robert Kirkman: I’m going to be extremely involved in the series as both a consultant and [executive] producer. I’ll have my hands all over that thing.
Nrama: Frank Darabont (“The Shawshank Redemption,” “The Mist”) is writing and directing the pilot. Have you two discussed the direction of the show? If so, how faithful to the comic do you hope/expect/want it to be?
Kirkman: It will be 110% faithful to the series in tone, but as far as following the comic book in order, telling you exactly what the comic book told you…I really don’t want them to do that.
I think “Watchmen” and the “Sin City” movie …those [films] are really entertaining…but I can read the comic. I don’t need to have the comic acted out in front of me by a bunch of actors. I like things like “Iron Man”, where they take the best parts about a lot of different comics and spin it into a new story, and it gets kind of the best parts of everything put together.
Luckily, I trust Frank Darabont to know what the best parts are and so, I’m hoping that’s what we’ll end up with “The Walking Dead.” I want him to pick and choose and do the best possible version of “The Walking Dead as a TV show. While I’m 100% sure he’ll be doing a ‘Walking Dead’ show that will be faithful and everyone will enjoy, I hope he veers off in any direction that he sees fit as he comes up with good ideas, because he is a brilliant writer and director. It would be absurd for me to sit back here and want him to follow my comic book exactly.
Nrama: What about the level of gore that is prominent in the comics? How much will AMC allow?
Kirkman: I think AMC is the perfect network for ‘Walking Dead.’ There are some limitations. We just had a story meeting that everybody was on. The only restriction they gave Frank – who’s working on the pilot right now – is that he can’t use the F word. They told him, ‘Anything else you want to do, go ahead and do it.’
If you’ve seen their other shows, they don’t really pull a lot of punches. They shoot things in a way and they show things in a way and you see it so much… I don’t know how they get it on the air, to be honest. I’ve seen them liquify bodies on “Breaking Bad” and sever heads on that show. They just liquified a foot on “Mad Men” and sprayed blood all over everybody. So I have high hopes for the show’s gore content.
But I think zombie fiction tends to suffer for people relying on gore and shock value. So I think having a limited restriction will actually help the show because it will prevent people from just riding the coattails of showing horrific stuff and trying to get by on that.
AMC focuses on the story and as long as it does… I have no concerns.
Nrama: What about the machete to the head? Would that get by AMC’s standards-and-practices?
Kirkman: (laughs) If ‘Mad Men’ had written a scene where someone got a machete to the head, they would get it in somehow.
Kirkman added that since it’s so early in the production process, there is no air date for the show, or even a date for the start of production on the pilot.
And if comic fans are worried the TV show could lure him away from writing “The Walking Dead,” Kirkman says not to worry.
“I have never yet hit a point where I’ve thought to myself, ‘I have no idea how I will keep this going for the next five years.’
I could foresee it going as long as 500 issues.”Read the first full issue of "The Walking Dead"