Robert Kirkman Discusses Plans For Next ‘Walking Dead’ Story Arc, And 10th Anniversary Celebrations

The Walking Dead #115 is the issue that starts the “All-Out War” event, and it also kicks off the celebration of the Walking Dead’s 10th anniversary, with the series going bi-weekly for this twelve-issue storyline. Image Comics held a press conference today to discuss the anniversary and this storyline, and MTV Geek was there to ask questions, report on the proceedings, and bring our readers a first look at ALL the assorted covers of Walking Dead #115 (and a glimpse of the interior, to boot)!

A representative from Image kicked things off with a brief explanation of the special events planned to tie in with the Walking Dead 10th Anniversary celebration – festivities will be kicking off at New York Comic Con, new products will be released, issue #1 will get a full-color reprint edition, and issue #115 will launch on October 9th with midnight release celebrations at comic shops across the country. The issue will feature 10 different covers that combine to form one massive image of mayhem, and there will also be a special “midnight release” variant edition that will be available at participating stores. After that introduction, the press conference began in earnest, with reporters from various news agencies firing off questions in order. Particular highlights follow below.

-Kirkman: “All-Out War” is a culmination of years and years of storytelling. It’s the story of how there’s all these communities that have formed, some good, some bad, and now they’re going to have huge conflicts. It’s an evolution in the sort of storytelling we’re doing…civilization is starting to rebuild, and there’s more logical progression.”

-When asked about the increased demands on artist Charlie Adlard that come with a bi-weekly schedule, Kirkman replied that “…Charlie is fine, it’s really me I want to talk about… I’m very stressed out!” He then explained that in order to accommodate the twice-monthly schedule, they recruited inker Stefano Gaudiano to finish Adlard’s pages, making it “the first time we’ve ever had an inker on Walking Dead”.

-We then took the opportunity to ask Kirkman about if he planned on using the bi-weekly storyline to dig in and spend more time on each moment, or if he saw it as a chance to accelerate events and reflect the accelerated release schedule with an accordingly fast-paced storyline.

“Well, this 12 issue storyline, it is a war, there’s quite a bit going on, it’s very fast-paced… I plan on telling quite a bit of story in these issues. In fact, if anything, the issues might be quite a bit denser than they have been… There’ve been some issues recently where less happened, that focused more on moments. And while there’s some pauses built in at a couple points, there’s gonna be A LOT of story told over these 12 issues.”

-Kirkman went on to add that in this storyline “…there’s gonna be a lot done w/ Holly, with Heath, with Maggie (who hasn’t really been in the book that much since issue #100, as she was off on the Hilltop community). There will still be lots of Jesus, Ezekial, and Rick, but I’m also trying to bring out some of the side characters.”

-There will certainly be some more character deaths in this storyline. “You can’t have a war without casualties.”

-In response to a follow-up question about planning character deaths, Kirkman expanded on how he makes those decisions. “…There have been times when I hold off and say ’when am I gonna kill that character? I usually know far in advance when someone will die, but other times, I like that it’s as shocking and spontaneous to the reader as it was to me when I decided to do it.

-We then posed a question – while Kirkman and Image clearly won’t want to spoil any specifics of this next storyline, are there any previous arcs of Walking Dead that especially lay the groundwork for “All-Out War”? Kirkman’s reply was cagey, but informative: “…Well certainly all of them. There’s quite a bit of groundwork that was laid when Rick first appeared at the community (in the issues collected in vol 12 and 13). There’s a lot of stuff that comes to the forefront involving Rick: his place in the world, his ability to adapt to new circumstances…that all comes to the fore in this storyline.”

-The conversation closed with Kirkman discussing the place this storyline has in his Walking Dead master plan: “…my hope is some of the readers, because of the last year of the book, have kinda forgotten that this is a word populated by zombies…and that is something that will loom on the horizon and continue to be a threat.”