If we learned anything from The Walking Dead's gripping first season, it's that surviving a zombie apocalypse is not easy.
And as Robert Kirkman, creator of AMC's acclaimed drama (and the original comic books it's based on), warns, even the show's major characters could be killed off at any moment.
Dying for more details on the undead? Read on to find out what the Dead head himself told us about TWD's upcoming season (and beyond), his plans for Comic-Con—and his surprising choice to play one of the series' biggest bads...
Q&A With Robert Kirkman
How does it affect you as a writer knowing you have 13 episodes this season versus six last year?
It is no problem at all to me, just because coming from comics I'm used to producing—for The Walking Dead I produce 12 comics a year and then I do three or four other comics on top of that. I guess it's somewhat daunting but I'm not even writing this stuff by myself. So it seems like it's a little bit easier.
Do you have an end game in mind for the show?
Yeah, it's something we've discussed briefly. I would like to do the comic book for 15 more years or so—in comic books that's completely normal, not completely unheard of, but it's kind of unheard of for a show like this to go so much as 10 years. So there's definitely going to have to be an end to this but while we have discussed it here and there briefly, we haven't really nailed down an exact end date just yet. We're going into our second season now, so I think it's normal just to look ahead and be a little optimistic and see where things are going to take us.
You don't have any qualms about killing off the major characters in The Walking Dead comic books—will the top-billed actors in the TV series be protected?
I don't want to spoil anything but I'm hoping that the television show will quickly gain the same reputation that the comic book has for being fairly bold and playing like no one is safe. So it may be a pretty exciting second season.
What is it like seeing your work come to life in Atlanta?
I've been on set maybe a total of a month at this point between the two seasons and it never wears off. It's always going to be weird to me. Last time I was there I spent a lot of time inside the RV—that was a favorite hangout spot of the actors for that day, just because it was cooler than the exterior places we were shooting. We were all just sitting in there chatting, and it's a bizarre thing. It's like, "Oh, I'm sitting there chatting to some guy who is pretending to be Rick Grimes [Andrew Lincoln], in an RV that I was writing in a comic book eight years ago. But now I'm inside of it. In a few minutes they are going to start this thing up and drive it down the street." Chandler Riggs was sitting there across from me and I was like, "Oh, there's Carl." It's never going to be normal. If it gets to a point where it is normal I'd probably be pretty worried.
You've said this season will be set primarily at Hershel's farm. Will next season take place at the Prison?
Possibly. I think that's something that has been discussed but I wouldn't want to nail things down exactly. We want to keep some surprise out there. I can say that the prison is definitely in the cards chronologically. It might make sense for that to possibly appear in season three. Who knows?
Who would be your first choice to cast as [human baddie] The Governor?
Are you serious?
He's my go-to because he's one of my favorite actors and I'd like to meet him—but I don't know if he's be a particular good Governor. It's a good thing I don't make casting decisions just by myself because I'd probably just pick people I want to hang out with: Ed O'Neil, maybe John Stamos—he seems like a cool guy.
He can sing, too.
I think this show could really use a singing Governor.
In your comic books we discover that everyone turns into a zombie when they die, regardless of whether they've been attacked by a zombie or not. Will we see the same thing in the TV series?
All I'll really say is maybe we will use that in the show, maybe we won't. I know that there have been certain things changed here and there and that very well may be one of them—or it isn't. You'll just have to tune in to find out.
Are we ever going to see an origin story of the zombie apocalypse?
The way I feel about it, I think it's far more interesting for these characters not to find out. Just because I think it's much more realistic. I think these people are going to be so engrossed in the struggle to survive, the thought of them going to any kind of area where they would figure things out just doesn't seem like a natural thing to do. Going to the CDC made sense because it was a place near them that they could go to to find safe haven. But anywhere past that, it's just not that important. It's much more important to know how to kill a zombie than to know why they ever started happening in the first place. Realistically once they get that information, what are they going to do? So I'm all for never finding out.
Anything else you can tell us about this coming season?
There's a lot of cool stuff. There's some really memorable zombie bits that the writers have come up with this season that I think are really going to shock people—just some really original things with zombies that I don't think people have seen before, and that's going to be a lot of fun. Hershel's farm—there's all kinds of crazy stuff waiting to happen there. I'm pretty excited for the second season, and I can't wait for people to see it.
Fans will be seeing a preview this week at Comic-Con—how many times have you been now?
I've been going to Comic-Con since 2001. And I'm horrible at math so I think it's about 20 or 30 I've been to. [Laughs.] At least it feels like that.
If you were invisible, what TV panels would you attend at Comic-Con?
I think there's a Fringe panel this year—I would hit that if I had time. I would love if there was a Sons of Anarchy panel. I'm a big fan of that show.
There is a Sons of Anarchy panel—they're in Hall H!
Sons of Anarchy? Oh my, I may have to cut out for that, I didn't know that.
Yeah, they come right after Glee—just your typical Comic-Con panels.
Very much sci-fi horror comic-book kind of stuff. [Laughs.] I'm very excited for Terra Nova, so I think there may be some sneak peek there. I like dinosaurs.
From Terra Nova and The Walking Dead to Glee and True Blood, we've got Comic-Con covered. Make sure you're following @eonlineTV, @JBomb11 and @DruMoorhouse for our live tweets from the panels, and stay tuned to this channel for more scoop from our interviews with the your fave shows' stars and showrunners.