Robert Kirkman, the prolific comic creator of The Walking Dead, has had no shortage of projects to entertain himself with after his and artists Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard's long-running apocalyptic zombie saga ceased its storyline last summer.
Upcoming endeavors for Kirkman include Universal's live-action adaptation of his Invincible animated series, a feature film based on his Oblivion Song comic, a trio of spinoff The Walking Dead movies starring Andrew Lincoln, a third The Walking Dead scripted series, and a new fantasy adventure comic with artist Chris Samnee titled Fire Power. But he still managed to carve out a bit of time to revisit his old, undead stomping grounds.
On July 1, Skybound Entertainment and Image Comics are delivering the comic shop exclusive Negan Lives #1, a 36-page one-shot from Kirkman and Adlard spotlighting the enigmatic antihero portrayed by Jeffrey Dean Morgan in the flagship AMC series. This special issue was conceived to aid comic book stores recovering from the shutdown due to the pandemic crisis and to give Negan a proper sendoff. 100 percent of the revenue generated goes to the outlets selling it.
"Charlie Adlard and I ended The Walking Dead series in July of 2019, about a decade ago it feels," Kirkman tells SYFY WIRE. "We kind of put it behind us and we’d gone our separate ways, he’s working on some cool projects, I’m working on some cool projects, and we stay in touch. We were very happy with the way The Walking Dead ended and wouldn’t want to diminish that in any way, so we weren’t planning on doing anything in the world of The Walking Dead.
"But this darn pandemic reared its ugly head and there’s been a ton of chatter with guys like Bill Schanes and Steve Geppi at Diamond about ways to help our retailer partners and help the direct market. Because after quarantine, some efforts are going to need to be made to get people to start going back to comic book stores and drum up some excitement. So they were saying, ”You know, if we had a new Walking Dead project it would be nice, people are really missing it.”
Kirkman's initial response was that he'd closed that chapter in his life and that he had more than enough going on with the TV shows and the Walking Dead movie and all kinds of different things. But there was a little voice in the back of his head that said it would be nice to do something else with Negan since we hadn’t seen him since Issue #174 and maybe it would be cool to check in with that guy.
"So once the bug was in my ear I started thinking about what would I do with him," he adds. "Once I had an idea, I contacted Charlie and asked if he’d be interested in doing something for charity to help out comic book shops. Charlie, being one of the best people on the planet, said, 'You had me at charity. If it’s for comic book shops, let’s totally do this.'"
"It was kind of fun getting the band back together and doing a sendoff for Negan in a way that we weren’t able to do in the final issue because at that point we weren’t really focusing on Negan. He’d already been kind of capped off. It’s a fun thing to come back to, but it’s definitely a very special one-off story and we’re not planning on doing anything else with it after this."
Skybound Entertainment and Image Comics' Negan Lives #1 hits comic shops on July 1.