Long live the undead
creator Robert Kirkman says season two of the zombie TV series will be darker.
VAMPIRES are all the rage on the big and small screens these days, with viewers flocking to the likes of the celluloid Twilight Saga and TV series True Blood, which has been renewed for a fifth season. But comic writer Robert Kirkman, 32 – creator of the acclaimed comic and TV series The Walking Dead – sounds more than a little dismissive about emo vampires.
The Walking Dead, about a group of survivors in a world ravaged by a zombie virus, he says “is much more about survival and protecting your loved ones ... than it is worrying about someone driving a stake into your heart or dying to marry a pretty girl or whatever it is they do in vampire stories these days.”
He adds: “Zombies are an unrelenting force that you have to have human characters dealing with, so by design, doing a zombie story makes you tell human stories.”
Focusing on the other kind of undead creature has certainly paid off handsomely for Kirkman.
The first season of The Walking Dead was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Television Series and the show is returning for a second season. Ratings for the season one finale in the United States peaked at six million viewers. The second season premiered in the United States last Sunday.
In a conference call from Los Angeles recently, he enthused about how he has been given “an unprecedented level of control” over the show as executive producer. He notes that whenever source material such as a comic or novel is adapted to celluloid, the creator usually has minimal involvment. But he is in a somewhat unique situation.
“I’m in the writer’s room full-time, so I’m coming up with storylines with the writers. I’m also approving casting and I’m in the editing room a lot of the time looking over different cuts and edits.”
However, he is quick to add: “But that said, if there’s anything you don’t like in the show, it’s got nothing to do with me.”
Just like the comic, the TV series has more than its share of intense, gut-wrenching moments. For example, the last season saw a character executing her sister who had turned into a zombie. And it is only going to get darker, he promises. “As we move forward, it’s really just kind of going deeper and deeper into that world and watching society crumble all that much more. We’ll be going to some pretty dark places. We’re not pulling any punches, is what I’m trying to get at.”
While three new characters will join the mix this season, the existing cast will certainly not make it to the end of the season unscathed, he says: “There’s danger around every corner and, to be realistic, you kind of have to allow some characters to die off every now and then.”
Nevertheless, he adds that the producers are mindful of keeping “some spark of hope” and not letting the show become “unrelentingly dark and depressing” for fear of the audience changing the channel.
“We’re always going to be keeping that little spark of life and little light-hearted moments from time to time, just to lighten the mood and also play them against the darker moments, to make the darker moments that much more impactful.”