SDCC: 12 Things We Learned from the Q&A with Robert Kirkman

There was a lot of “Walking Dead” news going on at this con!  We’re hearing rumors (rumors growing in strength by the day) that we’ll be losing Rick after the next season.  What other rumors are we hearing?

Well, the best place to go for everything “Walking Dead” is, obviously, the creator himself: Robert Kirkman.

Kirkman answered a whole pile of questions from fans.  He covered the “Walking Dead,” his other projects, his creative process, whether there might ever be a “Breaking Bad/Walking Dead” crossover, (there won’t) if Daryl might ever pop into the comics, (he won’t) Kirkman’s difficulty in killing Negan off, and even the secret to how the “Walking Dead’s” apocalypse started.  (And no, he doesn’t give it away).

There are, of course, other things he cannot talk about.  Will there be a Michonne movie someday?  Who knows!  Could “Oblivion Song” also hit television or movie screens?  Perhaps, who could say?

(1) Robert Kirkman Does Not Like “What’s Your Favorite” Questions! 

Not for the first time, Kirkman was asked to choose his favorite character from his zombie infested world.  (Sorry, sorry, “walkers”).  He couldn’t do it!  The best he could do was talk about Princess.  Don’t recognize the name?  Princess is the nickname of a fan favorite character from the comics.  As of yet, she has made no appearance in the TV show or the other iterations of the “Walking Dead.”

When it came to a favorite project he’s done, Kirkman had less trouble answering.  The “Beast Man Special” was an easy answer for him.  He also mentioned his Space Ace book.  (If any of this doesn’t sound familiar, pop over to Amazon).

Oh, and apparently his favorite ice cream flavor is vanilla.  Important information here, folks!

(2) Maggie’s Crazy Long Pregnancy is Because of . . . a Downed Alien Ship?  

When we first meet Negan, Maggie is already pregnant. By the time the season closes and Negan has been defeated, she isn’t showing anymore than she was at the start.  This has been a big point of discussion for fans and it was a big point of discussion at the Q&A too.

Kirkman was happy to provide answers, just maybe not the kind fans were expecting.

Kirkman was quick to tell fans that the farm Maggie grew up on was a special farm.  In fact, that farm was built atop a crashed alien ship.  Any women having babies within so many miles of the alien ship would carry those babies for at least 48 months. “It is rare,” said Kirkman to the fan that asked.  “It only happens in the “Walking Dead” Universe.”

Kirkman would not confirm whether we would eventually see Maggie’s baby in the “Walking Dead,” but he did envision an alternative “Walking Dead” universe where Maggie has her baby and it has superpowers.  Maggie would use the baby as a jet-pack.  “When the zombies come,” he told the fan that asked.  “She says ‘go, go, go.’ The baby jumps on her back.”

According to Kirkman, the special effects people would likely be very challenged by this.

(3) Working on Multiple Projects at Once 

When asked about working on multiple projects at once, Kirkman explained that it is stressful.  At the same time, he wouldn’t have it any other way.  He even went so far as to say that it can be an addiction, that he can get “depressed if I’m not working on something.”

He says that working on several projects helps keep him excited.  If he takes a break from the “Walking Dead,” then, when he returns to it, it seems new again.  He admitted, “I can get tired. I slow down. I ask myself what I’m going to do. I then get an idea and another idea. It all cascades into a furious stream.”

Kirkman said that he isn’t good at conversation or dinner parties.  His wife often things he is distracted.  Instead, he’s often “thinking of cutting someone’s nose off in my head.”

(4) Amazon Prime Animated Series “Invincible” 

Ever since it was announced as a go, fans have been excited to see Kirkman’s other comic book series “Invincible” turned into an animated television series.  At SDCC, a fan asked if the show would maintain the same level of violence the comics show.

Kirkman has a lot of confidence in the project.  Why?  He’s going to be very much involved in the production of the series.  He also assured the fans that the level of violence will stay true to the source material.

When asked what scene Kirkman was most excited to see hit the television screen, Kirkman mentioned a “trash bag scene in London.”  He would also love the animated show to go long enough to see the “bulletproof stuff.”  Kirkman told his audience they didn’t need to know this if they weren’t fans.  Having not read “Invincible” myself, I have no idea what he was talking about!

(5) A Robert Kirkman Doppelganger?  

Despite the seriousness of his stories, Robert Kirkman can still get funny.

Kirkman told his fans about having a doppelganger named Tanner Johnson.  He works for Disney and is involved in the Duck Tale cartoon.  Apparently, he looks a lot like Kirkman.  This is so true, Kirkman’s Twitter feed is constantly full of people saying “were you just at a gas station in Ohio?” “Were you just in line at a Baskin Robbins in Toledo?”

Apparently, the resemblance is so strong, Tanner Johnson himself is also mistaken for Kirkman at conventions.

Last year, at SDCC 2017, Robert Kirkman was walking to the Sky Bound booth for photos.  On the way, he was asked by a guy if he was Tanner Johnson.  Kirkman said “do you think I’m Tanner?” The guy then realized who Kirkman really was.  Kirkman snapped a photo with the guy and sent it to Tanner Johnson!

(6) Basing Characters on Himself 

Kirkman told fans that, in a way, all of his characters are based on himself.  When the comics mentioned Glenn working at a pizza place, that was because Kirkman himself used to work at a pizza place.  The “how you met” story between Lori and Rick is the same story of how Kirkman’s own parents met.

How does Kirkman explain this process?  “I’m lazy,” he says.

(7) Telling Agents There Are Aliens When There Aren’t 

A lot of popular projects were first rejected by a lot of people.  Most of the world knows this happened to the “Harry Potter” books before they hit it big.  Not so many people might know that the “Walking Dead” comics went through the same experience.

While it might be hard to believe now, zombies weren’t always popular.  Back when Kirkman was first trying to get his walkers out into the world, nobody was interested.  Nobody wanted a survival story with zombies.  It didn’t have enough to hook people with just that.

So, what did Kirkman do?  He threw in some aliens.

Kirkman told the agent in question that there was an alien invasion in the “Walking Dead.”  It wouldn’t come out until later.  Aliens were using zombies to take over the world.  The whole plot was secretly sci-fi!

The comic was approved!

The “Walking Dead” grew in popularity crazy fast!  People read them, including the agent who Kirkman had had to persuade.  When the agent finished reading the comic, he told Kirkman he loved it, but where were the aliens?

Kirkman told him he had lied!  The agent said he was cool with it.

Kirkman told fans at SDCC, laughing, “You can avoid that problem if you make good products from the beginning.”

(8) Inspiration for Princess

The inspiration for fan-favorite character Princess was actually because Kirkman wanted an anti-Negan.  He wanted someone who didn’t swear every other word.  She would be a lot like a kid.  He wanted someone with pink hair, a spear, goggles, someone weird and also polarizing.

Kirkman knows he has had a lot of psychotic characters.  He wanted someone of a different “flavor.”

(9) Doubting Himself 

Even someone like Robert Kirkman doubts himself.  He did that when he recently turned in the latest “Walking Dead” comic.  He thought it needed rewriting.  He thought it would be turned back into him as a pile of crap.  Instead, it was approved with glowing compliments.

“I decided I know nothing,” said Kirkman.

Kirkman talked about how he knows his own ability.  He has a natural talent for what he does.  He can try to be better and to improve. He said how easy it is for writers to write five pages and then rewrite them for the rest of their lives. That would be the end of his career.

Despite all this, Kirkman still worries that his fans will somebody grape up their pitchforks and come for him!

And if those people are at a podium, answering questions on a panel?  It isn’t that they figured it out.  They’re faking it.

(10) How Did the Apocalypse Start?  One Girl Knows!  

Kirkman has never told fans how the apocalypse in the “Walking Dead” began and he never will.  However, he has told one person: his daughter.

His daughter is nine years old.  She asked for the origin story.  He told her, hoping that she was too young to remember very long and/or tell other people.

She wasn’t very impressed with his answer.

Kirkman told fans that knowing the origin story would change how they saw the “Walking Dead” world.  He suggests fans be happy be with explanation of a giant space ship!

(11) Kirkman’s Creative Process 

When it comes to his creative process, Kirkman is not a late night person.  He gets up at 5:00 AM every day.  He works mostly in his home office.  He can’t imagine working in a noisy Starbucks.

His favorite place to work, however, is aboard airplanes.  if he is behind on a deadline, it makes him want to fly somewhere!

For his inspiration for the “Walking Dead,” most of it came from George Romero.  On a deeper level, Kirkman’s inspiration comes from not wanting his favorite stories to end.  A character flies off in a helicopter?  Where are they going?  He wants to know.  Kirkman sees his walker world as a “big dumb soap opera.”  He wanted to see his cast fall in love, kiss, make friends, be sad, destroy their friendships, and then be sad again.

(12) Space Ship Strikes Again 

Ever wondered how the survivors of the “Walking Dead” can still be surprised by a walker?  You would think they would have a super-awareness for them!  When a fan asked just this question, Kirkman said that the underground alien ship puts out a signal.  It specifically disrupts the humans’ ability to hear the approach of zombies.  \

Kirkman’s answer to whatever happened to the character of Heath was quite similar.

He told fans that Heath got trapped underneath the crashed alien ship!

Best Line

Audience Member: I like your beard!

Kirkman: I have to be careful to touch it because things might fall out.

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Author: Nicole Orr

Freelance writer and digital nomad.

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