Kirkman started off the panel by riffing with the audience about the technical problems of the slideshow. After the problems resolved, Kirkman said, "We always fake technical difficulties." With everything all set, Kirkman reminded the audience that "The Walking Dead" is heading toward its 10th year of publication this October. "We're going to be doing some stuff for the 10th anniversary because you have to do thing to celebrate anniversaries in comics because it's cool," said Kirkman, who went on to discuss "All Out War," which comes out in October. It will be a 12-part storyline that is "a huge storyline that's a culmination of everything that's happened in the book so far. As you know, Rick died in the last issue so -- has that issue not come out yet?" Kirkman said to laughs. "He's on the cover! It's clearly not true!"
"Negan and the saviors have been causing a lot of trouble," he continued. "We've seen the Hilltop and this new area the Kingdom aligning with Rick and his group of survivors. Now they're going to try to take Negan down, but that's going to be extremely difficult." The storyline is something that Kirkman has had planned since the beginning of the series and has a lot to do with the evolution of society as they rebuild following the zombie apocalypse.
The 12 issues will be done in 7 months, which will mean a new creator coming into the mix -- Stefano Gaudiano will be coming on to the series to ink Charlie Adlard's work. "He's a good inker, that's all that matters," said Kirkman, who showed some covers of the upcoming "All Out War" storyline. "It gives you a sense that the story ramps up fairly quickly. There's not a a lot of build-up to conflict."
Colorist Dave Stewart has come on as colorist for the covers, and will color a special 10th anniversary edition of "The Walking Dead" #1. Kirkman then began the Q&A session, saying that everyone should go to "The Walking Dead Escape," which is back at Petco Park this weekend. Among answers praising Spaulding's Doughnuts in Lexington, KY, Kirkman stated readers will reveal more about Negan's backstory in the issues to come, "assuming he doesn't die."
The first question to compare the television show and the comic asked about the possibility of doing comic story lines with some of the main comic cast dead in the show. "All I can say is there are story lines like the 'Hunters' storyline that seem important to the overall story and it would be unfortunate to skip them," said Kirkman, "but the death of any characters in the show are not going to preclude us from doing any of those story lines. Just because those characters died in season three doesn't mean we won't do the 'Hunters' storyline -- [it also] doesn't mean we will."
In terms of exploration of backstory of secondary characters, a fan dressed as Dale asked about a possible one-shot or novel about Dale. "Nobody's going to read a novel about Dale," Kirkman said, saying that a lot of the background stories were done as special projects that he wanted people to have access to, which is why it's been reprinted in subsequent material.
One fan asked about how the fate of Glenn in "The Walking Dead" #100 will affect the survivors in "All Out War." "It's definitely something that's going to be on everyone's mind," said Kirkman. "There's a lot of stuff coming up with Maggie and how she's dealing with it. While he's no longer in the book, his presence will very much be felt and it's kind of where we're going right now."
The question came up about Kirkman's favorite character, something that Kirkman's had some experience fielding in the past. "I've had favorite characters in the past, and then I've killed them," he said. "I always worry if I get too open with my feelings for these character, people will think they're safe. My favorite characters have been Tyreese and Axel -- all the dead ones, so it doesn't really mean anything." Kirkman also discussed briefly his experience working in the writer's room for "The Walking Dead" television show, and plotting it differently than the book. "If it was just the comic book over again, I'd be bored," he said. "The fact that there are characters like Daryl Dixon that don't exist in the comic, the fact that there are huge differences from the comic make it a lot of fun."
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