Co-author of “The Walking Dead” graphic novels, producer of the hit AMC TV series (the second-season premieres on Sunday) and now author of the new book, “The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor,” Robert Kirkman has helped to bring zombies into the mainstream, making guts and gore edgy and haute. He talked to Bookish about the next steps for “The Walking Dead.”
Bookish: What’s it like to work on “The Walking Dead” novel, the graphic novel, the TV show, and the board game, all at once?
Robert Kirkman: “The Walking Dead” has kind of grown into this strange beast. It is somewhat bizarre to be doing a novel that takes place in the past of the comic book series, and doing the comic book series, which, in a sense, takes place in the future of the TV show. And then do a TV show that takes place in the past. But it’s all the same universe, which, honestly, is just fun because I like zombies and I’m happy doing what I’m doing.
Bookish: How do you keep track of it all?
RK: I hate to admit it, but I keep most everything in my head. It’s all just jumbled up in there, which makes me horrible to have a regular conversation with.
Bookish: Why did you focus on Philip Blake, the Governor in your new novel “The Walking Dead: The Rise of the Governor”?
RK: He’s definitely going to play a big part in all three novels. The Governor, as he’s known in the comic book series, is a really key character in the life of the series. He’s touched so many — poor choice of words — different characters in the book in very profound ways.
It just felt like that was the right character to focus on. I wouldn’t want to do anything with Rick in the novel series since his story is being told in the comic book and TV show. I wanted it to be important to “The Walking Dead” fans and the Governor stood out as the main character that people would want to know more about.
Bookish: Can you give us any juicy insider info about Season Two of “The Walking Dead?” Will the Governor play a pivotal role?
RK: The second season will follow along the graphic novels to a certain extent. The characters will be visiting Herschel’s farm, and there will be other characters introduced, like Herschel’s daughter Maggie, who is very important to the story. There will be a lot of shocks along the way, though, that I think people are really going to get excited about. We’re definitely going to be pulling the rug out from under the viewers every now and then.
And the Governor is definitely a character that Glen [Mazzara] and I want to get to — whether that will happen in the second season or hopefully the third, that remains to be seen. All I can say is, keep on the lookout.
Bookish: So besides “The Walking Dead,” you’ve worked on “Marvel Zombies.” The zombie sensation has obviously been going strong for some time. Why do you think that is? And do you think it’s here to stay?
RK: I can’t see it going away any time soon. Most horror genres work in a cyclical fashion. Zombies were really popular in the late ’70s and early ’80s, and now they’re roaring back. They seem to be much more widely accepted by mainstream audiences.
I think if anyone’s honest, the thing that most terrifies them is the thought of dying, and zombies are like the visual embodiment of everyone’s greatest fear. By design, zombie stories have to be about human people and struggles, which holds a broad appeal. Zombie stories have a human element… that they try to eat.
Bookish: What are some of your favorite books and graphic novels?
RK: Richard Matheson’s “I Am Legend,” is really good… and “The Stand” by Stephen King. My favorite graphic novel series of all time is the Savage Dragon series. It’s kind of like if “Spider-Man” was always ever done by one guy and focuses solely on the superhero’s life.
Bookish: Speaking of “Spider-Man,” I hear you have a son named “Peter Parker Kirkman.”
RK: Yeah, he’s a cool kid. Oddly enough, he seems to be much more enamored of “Iron Man” than he ever has been of “Spider Man.” But what can you do?