Seven Things We Learned About The Walking Dead from Robert Kirkman's New York Comic Con Panel
Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and editor Sean Mackiewicz gave a panel at New York Comic Con today, and it was both hilarious and revealing. Here are the top ten things we learned about the comics, the TV show, and the relationship between the two, including a big spoiler about the next Big Bad in the comics.
1) The next Big Bad will be female, and has already been introduced to readers
We're not sure if Kirkman intended to let this slip when he came to NYCC, but when a fan asked if we would see a female antagonist in the vein of the Governor or Negan anytime soon, Kirkman responded, "There's a very good chance of that, so... keep reading." There was some buzz as we all tried to figure out if that was a spoiler, but luckily he followed it up with: "It's possible the character's already been introduced. So.... there's a spoiler."
2) Kirkman already knows the ending
We enjoy when long-running fictions actually have thought-out plans (*cough*Lost*cough*). When asked if he knew the ending to the comics, Kirkman said, "I do, yes. I know exactly where I'm going, and what I have to do to get there." He obviously didn't offer any insight into what that ending might look like (although he made an ominous comment elsewhere in the panel about humanity being wiped out completely, and honestly, we wouldn't be that surprised). But clarified that he thinks the comic has a lot of longevity: "I'm going to be doing this for a long time."
3) Don't expect Rick's hand to get cut off in the show anytime soon
Rabid fans of the comic have been incensed that the television version of Rick still has both hands, as being one-handed has been a defining characteristic of the comics character. Kirkman has made contradictory comments in the past about whether he "regrets" the decision to cut off Rick's hand in the comics, and he didn't exactly clarify them today: "I regret it and I don't regret it," he said. However, he did explain exactly why he didn't want Rick to be one-handed in the TV show: "It works in the comic to have your main character handicapped in that way. We get away with a lot. In All Out War, for example, Rick climbs onto a bus, which is something that would take a lot longer in real life, but in the comics it's like, 'oh he's on the bus now. We cheat. We cheat in the comic, which in the show would be much more difficult to do." Mackiewicz jokingly admonished, "Go watch Game of Thrones."
4) The Lizzy and Mika storyline in the show was directly lifted from the Ben and Billy storyline in the comics
This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise to fans of the comics, as the parallels were pretty explicit. When asked if there was ever any talk of worry over the potential backlash when planning the disturbing sequence in which (spoiler!) little Lizzy kills her sister, Mika, Kirkman replied, "No, that scene is pretty much a direct adaptation of the Ben and Billy storyline from the comic, and that was something that Scott Gimple really responded to." He also stated that there are clues from the very first episode of the season that the two storylines were meant to parallel each other. "We hope people will like it, but we just do what feels right, and killing little girls seemed right in that instance," he joked.
5) If you're mad about the TV show changing things from the comic, it probably came from Kirkman himself
In addition to writing the comics, Kirkman is also an executive producer on the television show. He claimed at his panel that Gimple is a huge fan of the comics, and often wants to follow them to the letter. He cited an instance in which Gimple told him that he wanted him to write the episode "After" because he wanted to helm closely to the comics "and if anyone else wrote it, it would be plagiarism." Kirkman responded, "Okay, but I'm not doing exactly the same thing." He went on to say that he is "the one pitching the craziest stuff usually."
6) The toughest character in The Walking Dead isn't Daryl Dixon
According to Kirkman, anyway. When asked which character (from either the comics or television show) he would want by his side during a zombie apocalypse, he said, "Carol from the TV show. She's pretty tough, she'd probably open cans for me and stuff. She'd probably keep me safe for the longest. Because I'm a wimp. Just want to make that clear."
7) Both Kirkman and Mackiewicz are really funny
Both the comic and the TV show are dead serious most of the time, but both of them were hilarious. When asked about the fan reaction to the zombies' (spoiler!) newfound ability to speak, Mackiewicz said, "People lost their shit," and then half-defended the decision: "We wanted to disappoint people in a good, entertaining fashion. We got a few letters that said 'Yeah, this will probably be my last issue, I'll wait to see if you print this negative letter and then we'll see.'" Kirkman followed up with: "It just shows how little credit we got with the Hunters storyline. People kept telling us, 'one more slip-up, we're out of here.' It's good to know where we stand, good to know how much faith they have in us."
And when asked which Walking Dead comic death is his favorite, Kirkman said "Andrea's." And then, for the people who have only watched the show, he clarified, "I do that joke at every con. She's alive in the comics. In the show- totally dead."
Just for fun:
The question from a Twitter user: "Any word on having a set week of the month that the walking dead comic arrives?" elicited hearty laughs all around.
The final question was asked by a tiny little girl named Sophia, which got a huge "Aw!" from the audience. (There were a lot of tiny children asking questions, but civilized people have to wonder if they should be watching this show?)