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Few figures in 21st century comics have had an impact on the industry and the wider pop culture landscape as widespread as Robert Kirkman. The co-creator of The Walking Dead, Outcast, Invincible, and other hit books has become an industry unto himself in recent years thanks to both bestselling comics and frequent adaptations of those stories into hit media properties. Kirkman's a storyteller with a knack for capturing the imaginations of his fans, and that even extends to his convention appearances, where he's one of the most entertaining, laid back speakers you're likely to find on the scene.
On Saturday, Kirkman proved that yet again when he joined fans virtually for a Comic-Con@Home spotlight panel, which he kicked off by noting the strangeness of hosting such an event by himself for the second year in a row.
"Holy crap, here we are again. Another virtual Comic-Con. Didn't think we'd be doing this again this year, did you? What a year it has been," Kirkman said. "I don't know about you, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and say the last year or so has been kind of rough. Hope we're all doing OK. I for one am very anxious to get to go to Comic-Con again."
Kirkman then launched into some quick mentions of all of his current ongoing work, from the "Rick Grimes 2000" Walking Dead side story he's telling in the Skybound X anthology to the success of Invincible on Amazon Prime to wrapping up his sci-fi comic Oblivion Song and continuing his martial arts fantasy Fire Power. There was also, of course, talk of The Walking Dead, which wraps up its AMC run with its 11th season later this year. Though his comic book series is over, and the original TV series adaptation is nearing the end of its run, Kirkman promised his fans there's much more to come.
"There's lots more Walking Dead to come. In comics, I think Walking Dead will exist in a different way," Kirkman teased, referring to both his Negan Lives one-shot and the upcoming young adult graphic novel series Clementine by Tillie Walden, which follows the Tellgames Walking Dead character of the same name. Check out the panel here.
Then it was time to take questions submitted by fans. While fielding a question about the developing Oblivion Song movie, Kirkman reflected not just on that film's progress, but on the progress of various projects, by commenting on the nature of film and TV development, and why fans don't get to hear every single update.
"I wish I could tell you guys everything, but every now and then something super exciting happens, and then it goes away, and if we were constantly updating everybody on everything that happened behind the scenes, it would be extremely frustrating for everyone," Kirkman said. "So that's why we can't do that, so we've gotta wait until things are solid, moving forward, little bit closer to actually happening before we can actually reveal things. That's why things are in development for so long sometimes."
Talk then moved on to Invincible, which has already been renewed for a second and third season at Amazon Prime. Asked about how closely the show will stick to the original comic, given The Walking Dead's history of diverging from its source material, Kirkman noted that Invincible's comics run was completed by the time the show arrived, so there's "a more solid road map" to foreshadow things in the animated series. That doesn't mean it'll never stray from the source, though.
"I'm involved in the show, and I like new ideas, and so I'm hoping that we'll have some new storylines here and there that we're able to weave in that are completely original to the show," Kirkman said.
Moving away from direct adaptations of his own comics, Kirkman also received a question about Renfield, the Universal Pictures monster movie he's developing alongside writer Ryan Ridley and director Chis McKay. Though the question was specifically about whether or not Renfield's master, Dracula, will have a role to play. Kirkman ended up using it to lay out the central conflict of the story while also confirming that, yes, the legendary Count is in the film.
"The whole plot is that Renfield is Dracula's servant and decides that he doesn't want to be his servant anymore, and it's that conflict that kind of drives the story," he said. "So yeah, Dracula's actually a big part of the movie."
Though he touched on everything from the developing live-action Invincible adaptation to other comics at his company, Skybound, to simple discussions about his favorite superheroes, one of the core threads of the panel was the omnipresence of The Walking Dead. The fact that it launched him as a major comics force and eventually made him into a pop culture powerhouse unto himself is not lost on Kirkman, and when answering a question about its continued longevity, he was clear about that, even noting at one point that he thought when it launched that it might be a failure.
"It's been a wild ride, it continues to be a wild ride," Kirkman said. "I'm pretty sure it will continue to be a wild ride for a long time."
For more from Kirkman, check out the full panel above.
Click here for SYFY WIRE's full coverage of Comic-Con@Home 2021.