“The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor,” the new novel from comic book creator and show executive producer Robert Kirkman and co-author Jay Bonansinga, is grotesque. This is a good thing, mind you; when it comes to the realm of flesh-hungry creatures of the undead, guts and gore are par for the course.
Specifically, fans of “The Walking Dead” are well adjusted to seeing brutal violence unfold, whether that’s stemming from the pencils of comics artist Charlie Adlard or Greg Nicotero’s brilliant FX work. But now, the post-apocalyptic blood has spilled out in prose in the form of “Rise of the Governor” — and to hear Kirkman tell it, the novel’s bloodshed is just as horrifying, if not more so, than anything you “Dead” fans have seen before.
“A lot of people have a misconception about me because I’m the ’Walking Dead’ guy, and they’re like, ’Oh, that guy love violence and he’s just crazy,'” Kirkman told MTV News in an exclusive interview about the new novel. “Half the time, I’m cringing as I type my script, which is very rudimentary like, ’This guy gets his stomach turned open’ or ’This happens to this guy.’ Sometimes when I get the pages back from Charlie, I’m like, [Screams in disgust] ’Oh, come on this is killing me!'”
“Moving into the ’Walking Dead’ TV show, one of the things that I’m really uncomfortable with is being on set and seeing Greg Nicotero and the guys at KNB work their magic,” he continued. “I go into their trailer, and it’s like, ’Hey, look at this dead body made out of foam, and it looks real, and you can touch its intestine.’ That’s just way too real for me. I’m constantly like just, ’Oh, it’s way worse on the TV show. It’s really hard to stomach. This is crazy.'”
“Then to move into the prose world, where this guy is doing his word magic on all of these horrific scenes where I was like, ’This can happen and that needs to do this,’ and he’s like, ’Oh, well watch this,'” Kirkman said of Bonansinga’s gloriously graphic descriptions of violence. “It’s just that much more graphic and much harder to handle for me. It’s fun moving from medium to medium and seeing it kind of elevate this stuff to a level that I can’t really handle.”
Bonansinga, for his part, said that in his experience, it’s not just enough to describe graphic violence: it’s finding the emotional connection, the humanity within the story, that makes the horror all the more vivid—something he had no small amount of praise for Robert over.
“I’ve worked with [George] Romero,” he said. “People like George and Stephen King, there is a misconception about these folks. I’ve said it before, there’s humanity. It’s not porn. It’s not like gore porn. There’s humanity, and that’s how George… he impressed me as one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. George, he wouldn’t hurt a fly. A wonderful old hippie and a great guy and brilliant. Robert’s very analogous to that, a very down-to-earth, good guy. I think that it’s the humanity. That’s where the violent, horrendous horror comes from. Without the humanity, it is just sort of ’Hostel.'”
“Not to pick on ’Hostel,'” he added with a quick grin.
“Great movie!” Kirkman chimed in with a laugh.
“Rise of the Governor” is currently in stores. Listen to an excerpt from the audiobook in the player below to experience the horror for yourself.
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