The panel featured The Walking Dead Creator Robert Kirkman and Skyboun Editorial Director Sean Mackiewicz and was moderated by Dalton Ross, of Entertainment Weekly.
Ross started off the panel by asking some questions that he had, as well as questions that were submitted via Twitter.
When asked about the time jump between issues #126 and #127, Kirkman replied that the time jump was by design, so that people wouldn’t quite know what to expect and that it would be disorienting.
When Ross noted that Rick’s new appearance seemed similar to that of Douglas Monroe, Kirkman scoffed at the notion and completely discounted it.
Kirkman won’t nail down Carl’s age, but thanks to the time jump, they have a bit more liberty with the character now, because he’s not a little kid anymore. Kirkman then made a reference to issue #134 and something Carl related happening.
When Ross asked about the revelation about the evolution of the zombies that happened in recent issues of the book, both Kirkman and Mackiewicz noted that there was a ton of negative feedback. The whispering zombies turned a lot of people off and prompted letters from people declaring that they were done with the book, much to the delight of both Kirkman and Mackiewicz.
Ross asked about some of the things that haven’t popped up post-time jump, like The Kingdom, The Sanctuary and Michonne. Kirkman said that they will all pop up. The original plan was for a Michonne reveal after six issues, but that’s been extended.
A couple of Carl questions were addressed next. Kirkman said that Carl’s new look, including his glasses are a product of his insecurity about his appearance. He’s a kid at a that age, and he cares about how he looks. Also, it’s a practical way to cover up his injury. As for Carl losing an eye on the show, it’s a possibility.
Kirkman confided that the outcome of All Out War, in terms of Rick, had been decided years ago. The current happenings in the book are things that have been gestating since the show began.
Kirkman explained that Rick’s new look is a bid to be more anonymous.
Kirkman spoke about having a road map for the book, but he likes being able to turn on a dime. That said, Negan was never going to die.
One of the characters that Kirkman didn’t really have any input about the appearance of the character was The Governor. His look was all Charlie Adlard.
Ross asked if we’d see Lucille again. Kirkman replied that Lucille would indeed return and then posed the following questions; who has the bad and what are they doing with it?
Kirkman also discounted the notion that the female with the bad in the trailer for season five of The Walking Dead is the female Negan. She’s not the female Negan.
When asked how much time passed between issues #126 and #127, Kirkman didn’t want to nail it down. He wanted the flexibility to say that three years had passed, if it suited the story. Mackiewicz offered up that about 18 months had passed.
When asked which character he disliked the most Kirkman quipped “probably the tiger.” Then he confessed that he likes them all. There isn’t one character he doesn’t like.
Kirkman was asked which character he likes to do horrible things to and replied Spencer. But he pointed out that historically, Rick has probably suffered the most.
A fan asked if Morgan would ever come back to the show. Kirkman wants Morgan to return, but it’s really a matter of Lennie James’ schedule. But he will appear in the show again at some point.
Kirkman spoke about how much he enjoyed writing normal people. Rick was just a normal guy, he wasn’t a super-cop. Rick was designed to be average, as most of the characters in The Walking Dead are, because Kirkman likes seeing how they step up to the challenge. The downfall in civilization has ironically been pretty good for them and brought out the best in them.
Kirkman was asked which character is he most like and responded that he’s most like Eugene, in that he’d lie to people in order to get them to protect him.
A fan asked how Kirkman reacted to the death of Dale on the show. Kirkman didn’t have a problem with it. He was in the writer’s room when it was pitched and it served a few purposes. At that point on the show, the zombies weren’t a threat and Dale was a source of comfort for the group. But having him get bit made zombies a threat and shook up the group.
When asked about their favorite deaths, Mackiewicz said that Glen’s was pretty powerful. It was brutal and painful and dragged on. Kirkman deadpanned “Andrea” and then followed it up by saying it was joke he said at basically every panel. Kirkman’s genuine response was that Glen’s death was important, but Abraham’s death was surprising. He also said that Tyrese’s death was a pivotal point for the book.
A fan who coded the “Dead Yourself” app asked if Kirkman would pose for a photo with him. After a couple of false starts, the photo was finally taken.
A female fan asked Mackiewicz if it was fun or laborious doing the letter column. He replied that every issue had one or two letters that makes it worthwhile.
When asked which character he’d like to survive with, Kirkman replied that it would be Carol from the show, who would keep him safe.
One fan asked why there weren’t more Black people in Kirkman’s Atlanta? Mackiewicz joked that “everyone knows Black people die off first in horror movies, so while Rick was in a coma…it’s a genre book. We’re playing by the rules.” Kirkman feels that he cast grew more diverse as the book went on.
Kirkman doesn’t play favorites in terms of character. Whoever he’s writing at the moment is who he’s into.
When asked how he felt about the change in the tv show with the scene where Carl is taking care of a sick Rick. Kirkman was fine it because he wrote the episode. Scott Gimple assigned him that episode, because if anyone else did it would have been plagiarism. But Kirkman wanted to change things up. Traditionally in the writer’s room, Gimple wants to adapt the comic and Kirkman wants to change things up.
It’s possible that Negan and Rick may team up to fight a larger threat. It’s not likely and it probably won’t happen. But it’s technically possible.
When asked why Rick didn’t lose a hand on the show, Kirkman pointed out all of the times that the comics cheats with a one-handed Rick, like reloading a gun or climbing on a bus. On television you’d have to show that.
Kirkman was asked if fans would ever see a female villain, possibly a Latina. Kirkman said “keep reading” and that it’s possibly that such a character has already been introduced.
A young fan asked if the zombie apocalypse would ever end. Kirkman explained that eventually zombies will rot away and at some point you’d only have to deal with recently dead people, so technically it would end. It’s just a matter of outlasting the zombies.
Kirman does know the ending to the book.
The biblical names of Ezekiel and Abraham weren’t intentionally biblical, but the names had gravitas. Both Mackiewicz and Ross felt that Ezekiel was a name that was adopted and not the characters actual name. Kirkman said that in his mind he was born Ezekiel.
When asked what his favorite issue and episode that he wrote were, Kirkman replied that the aforementioned Carl episode was his favorite and that his favorite issue is #134, because “cool stuff happens.”
Tags: AMC's The Walking Dead, NYCC, NYCC 2014, Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead