From zombies to demon possession

From zombies to demon possession
Producer Robert Kirkman on the set of The Walking Dead Season 2.

Graphic novelist Robert Kirkman may be singlehandedly responsible for the zombie revival in popular culture: His award-winning The Walking Dead comics inspired one of the most successful television shows in recent years, which in turn has given the undead a new lease on life in both film and TV.

No wonder, then, that a TV studio jumped at the chance to adapt another of his comic books, Outcast, which he created with artist Paul Azaceta.

Speaking at a press event in San Diego earlier this year, Kirkman and his collaborators teased details of the new show, which is in pre-production and expected to premiere next year.

The comics are about a man trying to find out why he and his family have been plagued by demonic possession since he was a child.

Kirkman, 35, says he was drawn to this world partly because it seemed scarier to him than zombies.

"Zombies are not real and they're never going to be real. But there is this phenomenon with demonic possession where there's this huge number of people worldwide who actually believe this could be a real thing, and that makes it so much scarier and so much more tangible.

"So I thought we'd be able to go into a lot darker and scarier places with Outcast. And I think that's going to make it a very cool project."

He was working on the comic when he was promoting the first season of The Walking Dead, for which he serves as a writer, when he casually mentioned the new project to one of the producers, never imagining that the network would jump all over it.

He remembers Ms Sharon Tal Yguado, one of the executive producers on The Walking Dead, saying to him: "We love The Walking Dead, it's fantastic, what are we doing next?"

His reply: "I told her a little about it and she went, 'Great, I want it, let's do it.'"

Ms Yguado, from Fox International Channels, adds: "He didn't just say 'exorcism'. He said, 'I want to reinvent exorcism the way I reinvented zombies.' And I thought if anyone can do that, he can."

"I can be cocky," says Kirkman, who recently confirmed that he will also be working on another new TV series - a Walking Dead spin-off that, it has been hinted, will focus on the zombie apocalypse in other parts of the world.

He has found it instructive to develop a comic and a TV show side-by-side, as opposed to The Walking Dead series, which launched in 2010, seven years after the comics.

With Outcast, "I've been developing it side by side with Sharon and Fox while putting the comic book in order, so it's been a very different experience from The Walking Dead because it's something we've been doing concurrently, and that's very exciting."

Like The Walking Dead, the new show will diverge slightly from the comics, reveals Kirkman.

"They do follow a very similar story, but being the person who's writing both, I got to really dig deep into the differences in both mediums.

There are things in comics that work really well that don't work in TV, and vice versa, and pulling on the strengths of both mediums has kind of made both the best they can be.

"Even though we do follow a similar track, you will be able to experience both without one spoiling the other."

This article was first published on October13, 2014.
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