'The Walking Dead': Robert Kirkman on his new comic book, 'Robot Chicken,' and the new F bomb rule for 'TWD'

Kimberly Potts
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
Robert Kirkman, Norman Reedus, and Andrew Lincoln (Photo: Getty Images)

To celebrate the Oct. 22 Season 8 premiere of  The Walking Dead — the series’ 100th episode — Yahoo Entertainment will be posting a new TWD-related story every day through the season opener.

Fans of the Robert Kirkman universe, mark your calendars for March 7, 2018, when the Walking Dead creator launches his latest comic book, Oblivion Song.

The monthly comic, created by Kirkman and artist Lorenzo De Felici, is set a decade ago in Philadelphia, where 300,000 people were lost in a new, apocalyptic-like dimension called Oblivion. The government tried to save them, initially, but has since given up devoting any time or resources to their rescue. One man, agent Nathan Cole, makes dangerous daily trips to Oblivion in an effort to save as many people as he can, an obsession he carries out because … well, readers won’t know why immediately. Nathan’s motivation is one of many answers to be revealed as the comic book story unfolds.

Kirkman told a small gathering of reporters in New York on Tuesday that he’d been working on the story for nearly two years, and though it may initially sound like it has a lot in common with The Walking Dead, he sees it as being more “apocalypse adjacent.”

Photo: Image Comics

“It’s very much not an apocalypse story. You know, the majority of Philadelphia is still intact,” Kirkman said. “Kind of the theme that we’re dealing with here is the fact that, no matter how horrific something is that happens to us as a people, it doesn’t take too many years for us to just kind of go back to normal and kind of forget about it. And so, we are kind of dealing with the fact that a large chunk of Philadelphia just completely disappeared, and when the story starts … our main character is seemingly almost the only one that is still very invested in it, still trying to figure out what happened, still trying to rescue people, and everyone else is kind of going back to status quo, like, ‘Can’t we just forget that crater that’s in the middle of our town?’ As far as apocalyptic tropes, there’s definitely a lot of that inside the dimension of Oblivion. … We’re eventually going to meet more and more people that are still alive over there and have been living there for a while. You know, I try to avoid some things that I did in The Walking Dead. I wouldn’t expect to see any zombies over there.

“I wanted to do a story where you get all the cool story dynamics and the kind of narrative that you can get from an apocalypse story because that is a fun treasure trove of ideas to play with. But I want them to be able to just go back to a safe place and raise children and have families and be able to kind of bounce back and forth between the two [worlds].”

Kirkman shared no specifics, but did acknowledge there already has been chatter about Oblivion Song being adapted for other media. And he shared who he thought should play Nathan Cole in a TV series or movie version of the story.

“Ed O’Neill,” he joked. Sort of.

“I get that question a lot, and that’s always my go-to answer. Because I can’t be like, ‘Michael Fassbender,’ and then, like, Jake Gyllenhaal gets cast five years from now, and he’s like, ‘You said Fassbender was the guy, you a**hole’ … so I always say Ed O’Neill because everybody respects Ed O’Neill, they’d be thrilled … and I think it’d be a really creative way to go.”

Kirkman, who is hosting a New York Comic Con panel on all his multimedia projects on Thursday and will be a part of AMC’s Walking Dead panel at NYCC on Saturday, also talked to Yahoo Entertainment about TWD-related matters, including Adult Swim’s The Robot Chicken Walking Dead Special: Look Who’s Walking, as well as those rumors that TWD will start dropping F bombs in Season 8.

“Knowing the [Walking Dead] actors did the voices … the most bizarre thing for me is, like, ‘Man, Andrew Lincoln is saying that? Oh, my God. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is making fun of his Negan lean? This is amazing!’” Kirkman said about what he finds funniest about the Robot Chicken special. “I think those are the biggest elements for me, just the fact that they actually … Michael Rooker actually does his thing, and I don’t know if the audience will find that to be as hilarious as I do, but we take things so seriously on The Walking Dead. And for many, many years … I don’t think we would’ve ever done a Robot Chicken special with Season 2 or Season 3, just because we were always worried that if people stopped taking this world seriously, it could really damage the show and people’s perception of it. So seeing these actors cut loose … and kind of poke fun at a lot of things that are inherent in The Walking Dead was pretty great.

“We do it in the writers’ room all the time,” he continued. “Scott Gimple and I would often talk about, ‘Oh, my God, there’s a comedy version of this show that is so easy to do,’ because we crack jokes and make fun of stuff, and really look at different ways that we can lean a certain way and things would be funny instead of scary. So, behind the scenes, it’s not that alien, but I guess publicly it’s going to be a pretty weird departure, which I think is fun.”

Another possible departure for Walking Dead fans: F bombs falling throughout Season 8. Fear the Walking Dead used the profanity for the first time in its recent “Brother’s Keeper” episode, and FTWD showrunner Dave Erickson said the addition of the curse word came courtesy of the network, which is allowing Fear, and, according to Erickson, the mothership series, to use the F word twice per season.

“I will neither confirm nor deny the existence of F bombs in The Walking Dead,” Kirkman joked. “You will just have to keep the speculation going.”

OK, but if they are going to use the F word, they wouldn’t have Negan say it, right? That would be so expected, as it is that character’s favorite word in TWD comics.

“You think an F bomb would be wasted on Negan? How dare you!” Kirkman joked. “How dare you!

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan in The Walking Dead (Photo: Gene Page/AMC)

“I’ll say it’s something that we really struggle with, because you can only go to a certain extent on television, and that’s why we’ve hesitated doing the dropped-out F bombs. … You’re only allowed a certain amount of those, and Negan saying it once or twice is not as impactful as the way he just freely says things in the comic. We’re very torn on whether or not it’s worth going halfway or doing things. The basis of his character is not the profanity. It’s the playfulness. It’s the comfort and ease with which he does all of the weird things, and that’s really the core of his character. I think that does translate well without the F bombs.

“You’ll just have to see what we do.”

The Walking Dead Season 8 premieres Oct. 22 at 9 p.m. on AMC. The Robot Chicken Walking Dead Special: Look Who’s Walking premieres Oct. 8 at midnight on Adult Swim.

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