While the media has been lapping up every opportunity to talk to Robert Kirkman about his hit TV series based on the comic The Walking Dead, the writer is still busy working on a couple other hit comics for his Skybound/Image imprint.
Thief of Thieves, which is just five issues into its run, is already being developed by Kirkman for an AMC television series, and it's continuing into its second story arc with a new writer. Kirkman is overseeing other writers on the comic as a "team" — similar to a TV series writer’s room. Playwright James Asmus, who's written comics like X-Men: Manifest Destiny and Generation Hope, will take over as head writer beginning with issue #8, joining regular artist Shawn Martinbrough.
Kirkman is also hard at work on a new chapter for Invincible, as main character Mark Grayson has stepped aside from the mantle, letting his replacement Zandale take over. With last week's Invincible #92, the series set up situations for some of the lesser known character in the comic's diverse universe, as Invincible veteran artist Cory Walker joined regular artists Ryan Ottley and Cliff Rathburn on the comic for a story arc.
In the second part of our discussion with Kirkman about his comics — and yes we'll get to The Walking Dead #100 soon — we picked Kirkman's brain for some insight into the success of Thief of Thieves and what is coming in Invincible as that series also approaches its 100th issue.
Newsarama: Robert, before we start teasing what's coming in The Walking Dead #100, how are things going with Thief of Thieves. We keep hearing that the first printings are selling out.Kirkman: Yeah, it's going extremely well. We just announced the writer for the second story arc, who is going to be terrific, and the sales on it are absolutely phenomenal. We just go numbers for issue #6, and it's actually selling higher than issue #1, which is always a good sign. It doesn't happen very often. So it's a remarkable thing.
Nrama: Why do you think the sales have been so positive for you guys? Is it because of the buzz you've gotten for The Walking Dead?
Kirkman: Yeah, that somewhat, but I think it was also the buzz around the possible TV show.
Also, you know, Thief of Thieves is part of a really cool thing that's happening in comics where you see things like Fake Out and The Walking Dead and Saga, things that aren't superheroes and aren't necessarily what people call "mainstream" comics, but they are mainstream concepts outside of comics.
Nrama: Does that give them an edge among a more mainstream audience?
Kirkman: I think it definitely does, but it's also something that's attracting people who are interested in comics already. I mean, those types of comics are doing really well for us, and they're selling numbers that actually rival a great many Marvel or DC books.
To me, that means the audience is actually opening up to new concepts in a big way, which is really exciting to me.The overall big picture is very exciting.
Nrama: This is a new genre for you, and a new approach, getting writers to lend their talents to the series. What's it been like now that you're a few issues into the series?
Kirkman: It's been a lot of fun to be able to play with this genre, and it's an absolute blast working with all these different writers. We work together to plot the course of these characters. It's kind of a "writers room" concept. It's encouraged a lot of creative concepts being thrown back and forth.
Nrama: As the new writer starts on the series, will Shawn Martinbrough still be drawing it?
Kirkman: Yeah, Shawn is staying on the book with our colorist, Felix Serrano. Seeing pages come in from them is a thrill, so they'll be sticking around.
Nrama: And you'll continue to oversee the book?
Kirkman: Yeah. I mean, one of the things that most excites me about comics is when I get a sense that I'm going to be able to do a series for a really, really long time. That's what really excites me — getting to issue #50 or getting to issue #75. That means I get to tell a really cool story and get to evolve the characters a great deal. That's what I got into comics to do.
And seeing Thief of Thieves do so well this early on has really excited me about the possibilities of having an issue #100 someday. And getting to really tell the characters' story for a really long time. So I couldn't be more excited about that book.
Nrama: Everyone's pretty focused on the 100th issue of The Walking Dead, but you're also getting close to issue #100 of Invincible, right?Kirkman: Yeah, we're really excited about issue #100, which should come out in January 2013, which will actually be the 10th anniversary of the book, which is pretty awesome. It means we did an average of 10 books per year, which isn't the best average, but that's pretty good.
Nrama: Right now, someone else is wearing the Invincible costume. What can we expect from that in coming issues?
Kirkman: Yeah, we've got Mark Grayson kind of out of the picture. But it's been fun writing the new Invincible as he figures out what he's doing.
It's really exciting to be able to take a character like Bulletproof, who has been in the book since, like, issue #9 or something, and you know, make him wear the Invincible costume for awhile and really get to know him a little bit more. People are really excited about that. They're like, "Oh! I've known that guy for almost 100 issues, and it's really cool to get more information on him."
Plus, that's all set on this background of the Thraxan invasion, the alien force that's been around in the series since issue #3. And that's going to run through issue #95.
Nrama: I noticed Cory Walker was drawing part of the story, and you're giving some other characters the spotlight. Is that continuing in the next few issues?
Kirkman: Yeah, Cory's telling some of the flashback stuff. He'll be drawing a part of every issue through #95. The flashbacks deal with what happened to Rex and Monster Girl when they went into the Thraxan dimension a few issues ago.So we'll be continuing that dual story, which is kind of cool. It'll explore what happened in the Thraxan dimension and why they're invading now.
And there's going to be some pretty shocking reveals there.
And one of the things I'm really most proud of when it comes to Invincible is that the secondary characters have gotten quite a bit of fan response. It's been fun to look a little closer at Bulletproof, and also Robot and Monster Girl. People want to know more about them.
Nrama: Can you give a hint about what's coming in issue #96 and beyond?
Kirkman: When this current storyline wraps up, we'll be going into a much bigger, much scarier storyline that will be leading up to the big issue #100. You'll see announcements about that at Comic Con. So people can be on the lookout for what we're doing.After issue #100, there will be more awesome stuff.
I do plots on paper, when I'm figuring out where the book's going, and I was plotting, like, issue #110 the other day. And I was like, "#100??? This is crazy!" Getting to issue #100 is really cool, but once I start seeing numbers over 100 on my note sheet, it starts getting really strange for me. So the road to #200 is going to be bizarre. But I promise you we'll have a lot of cool stuff ahead.
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