The Walking Dead from comic to TV

The creator of The Walking Dead comic series, Robert Kirkman, talks to SFX about the TV adaptation

Earlier this week we revealed that our next issue will feature The Walking Dead as the cover story. Written by Robert Kirkman and illustrated by Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard, it began as a comic series about a group of humans trying to survive a world which has been infested by zombies - launching as a comic in 2003, in 2009 it was announced that AMC had picked up the rights to produce a TV version. It will start airing on FX in the UK this November. We spoke with Kirkman about the upcoming TV adaptation, and the future of the comic, when we met up with him at Comic-Con. Here's some of the interview that didn't make it into the magazine (which you can pick up on Wednesday 22 September).

What inspired The Walking Dead comic?
Robert Kirkman:
I always loved zombie movies, particularly the work of George Romero. But my problem with zombie movies is that they always end.

When I came to do a new comic book series I thought it would be really cool to create a zombie movie that doesn't just come to an end, something that I could follow through over the course of a lot of years. Most zombie stories seem to just reach a point where they go, "Our time's over so this character's going to get in a helicopter and just fly off." And I always thought, "Surely there's much more story to tell than that."

I want to see where they go and who they encounter next. And what happens to them and how they might go about surviving in this world, and how trying to survive changes them over time and eventually turns them into different people. That's what The Walking Dead has become.

Why was this the right time to finally let somebody adapt it for TV?
Kirkman:
Once Frank Darabont became involved I had no hesitations whatsoever. Frank worked on smaller budgets with The Mist and he took a smaller budget so he could do the story he wanted to do and that really hit home for me. I knew that he cared about this product and knew what he was doing. So with this I knew that it was in good hands.

[caption id="attachment_36842" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="The cover of SFX 201 on sale Wednesday 22 September 2010."]

SFX 201

[/caption]We've shut down entire sections of Atlanta; we've got tanks and all kinds of crazy stuff - cars flipping over. There are a lot of amazing things that we've squeezed out of this budget, and when people watch the whole series it'll be like a six hour zombie movie, nothing like a low budget TV show.

Will the TV show be faithful to the comic?
Kirkman:
The series is extremely faithful. It follows the exact same tone. It's very grounded in reality - aside from the zombies! - and focuses on the drama between the characters. The zombies are the backdrop that keeps everything interesting.

The producers have the benefit of hindsight so they can see what I've done with the comic and where it went, so there are certain things that they'll expand and explore, but for the most part it follows the comic to a tee.

Will you be writing future comics with the TV show in mind?
Kirkman:
I'm just going to keep doing the best comics I possibly can. If you do a good comic then it will translate to other media. I don't write thinking, "If I do it this way it will look better as a movie or a show." I really just sit down and try to create the best comic. There are a lot of things about the medium of comics that you can't get anywhere else. So I enjoy doing it and plan to continue to.

Thanks Robert!

The show will air in early November on FX in Britain. You'll read more about The Walking Dead TV show in SFX issue 201, including exclusive pictures and interviews with the director, producers and cast. Find out more about Robert Kirkman at his official site .