Robert Kirkman sold Walking Dead by claiming there'd be aliens

Since its debut in comic shops in 2003, Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead has become a phenomenon in print and on screen and spawned toys, T-shirts and even a tie-in novel. There's no doubt now that it's one of the most profitable things ever published by Image Comics, but in order to get the comic published in the first place, Kirkman says he had to pretend he was adding invaders from space.

Speaking at the annual Image Expo over the weekend, Kirkman talked about everything from his heavy workload to the future of The Walking Dead to where fans should start reading one of his other comic series, Invincible. He also talked about the origins of his hit zombie saga, and revealed that it almost didn't happen.

"Kirkman told the story of how Image nearly passed on The Walking Dead as they felt that the story needed more of a hook to grab readers than just being set in a zombie apocalypse," Bleeding Cool's Peter S. Svensson wrote in in a recap of Kirkman's panel.

To boost Image's interest in the series, Kirkman decided "to concoct a Plan 9 From Outer Space-esque tale of how the zombies were actually animated by an alien race that was preparing to invade Earth by disrupting its infrastructure. That was enough to get Image to sign off on it, though Kirkman had no intention of actually using that plot. "

So the first issues of the series went to press alien-free and quickly proved that Kirkman never needed an outer-space hook to sell his zombie epic. Though now we wonder what would have happened if things hadn't turned out that way. Would Kirkman have caved and put the aliens in to boost sales?

The panel was rather lengthy and delved into a number of non-Walking Dead issues, but Kirkman also touched on another interesting aspect of the series' creation: the fact that it has no ending.

Wrote Svensson:

"He has some vague ideas for endgame scenarios for Walking Dead and Invincible, so that if the sales begin to radically drop he can slowly start leading up towards them, but he's not actively leading up to an ending at this point. In fact, he worries about the fact that one day he'll have to end them, as he doesn't believe he'll be able to do them justice. To that end, he currently plans to keep on writing them until he dies. 'Likely due to cholesterol. It's funny because it's true.'"

(via Bleeding Cool)

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