Robert Kirkman already had a successful zombie comic on his hands when The Walking Dead made its TV debut two years ago. Now he's got an even more successful comic and a record-breaking cable series that seems poised to get even more popular. Kirkman's loving the success, but he's willing to admit that "every step of the way" he was waiting for the show to fail.
Several years went by between the time Frank Darabont first optioned the series from Kirkman and the time it finally made it to AMC. Before Darabont came along, Kirkman "turned a lot of people down" but found the Shawshank Redemption director to be "a like-minded guy." The series first wound up at NBC, which requested that the zombies be removed. Then producer Gale Anne Hurd came along and helped the pair transfer the work over to AMC, which immediately got behind it. But even when a major cable network picked up the show, Kirkman persisted in believing that something was bound to go wrong.
"Every step of the way, I never believed it was actually gonna happen. I'm actually in the offices at AMC and talking to executives ... 'It's never gonna happen.' I'm on set watching them film it and I'm like 'Something is gonna happen before this thing is on air and it's not gonna go, and whatever.' And I think even the first time it aired I was like 'Well, it's on air, but it's probably not gonna make it to a second season.' I'm a pretty big pessimist."
It would be tough for Kirkman to be a pessimist about the show these days. Check out the clip below, in which he discusses the whole story of how the show went from idea to reality, all while he was sure it would never happen. The clip, by the way, is a portion of the forthcoming documentary Comics in Focus: The Image Revolution, which charts the 20-year history of Image Comics (where Walking Dead is published and Kirkman is a partner) and its impact on the comics industry and culture. You can learn more about that flick here.