When Shelf Life points out to Robert Kirkman that he is best known for writing comics about zombies, superheroes, and dinosaurs, the scribe guffaws. Why? “I’m laughing at the absurdity of my life,” says the man responsible for penning Invincible, Super Dinosaur, and, yes, a little post-apocalyptic zombie series called The Walking Dead.
Kirkman’s new project, Thief of Thieves, is an attempt to make his life a little less absurd. “It’s going to be very grounded in the real world,” he says of the comic, which hits shelves Feb. 8. “No zombies, no space aliens, no superheroes. It’s just going to be real human characters doing somewhat horrible things to each other.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So what else can you tell us about Thief of Thieves?
ROBERT KIRKMAN: Well, it’s a fine comic book, if I do say so myself. It’s somewhat of a crime-caper comic about a professional thief named Conrad Paulson. He is one of the greatest thieves who’s ever lived, but he’s gotten to a point in his life where he realizes that he’s chosen his professional life over his family life and greatly regrets that. He’s got an adult son who is kind of following in his footsteps but doing a horrible job, and he has an estranged wife that he is still very much in love with. Our story picks up when he is trying to turn his back on his profession and rekindle his relationship with his wife and trying to fix his son’s horrible predicament.
You’ve said that the way you worked on this was inspired by your experience in the writers’ room of the Walking Dead… I almost said the Grateful Dead then, which might have been even more interesting…
[Laughs] It takes just three weeks of us not doing interviews every week about the show for you to forget the name!
Yep, sorry. But could you elaborate on what you meant by that?
Absolutely. I’ve been spending a lot of time in writers’ rooms since the very first season of the Walking Dead and I’ve been somewhat enchanted by the process. It’s a very cool thing to have writers working hard to improve a story together as a group. It’s not something that usually happens in comics. So I got the idea to do the series that way, to have an overall story and then get a sort of writers’ room of people together to help map out what’s going on with the characters and tighten the story up here and there. It’s kind of a cool little experiment.
To clarify, this process has involved more people than just yourself and [Thief of Thieves writing collaborator] Nick Spencer?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. There’s a few other people involved, but we haven’t announced their names must yet. But the first six issues are written by Nick, based on my initial series outline and quite a bit of conversations between the two of us. That kicks us off and then we’ll be rotating from arc-to-arc with various writers that are in the group.
Why did you want to write a non-fantasy comic?
Moving forward with my career, I think I will do more grounded, realistic stuff. I’ve had a lot of fun doing big science-fiction action in things like The Infinite and cool fun kids stuff in Super Dinosaur and superhero stuff like Invincible. But Thief of Thieves and some of the other things I’m developing are a little bit more grounded and a little bit more “real world,” somewhat more consistent with what I’ve done with the Walking Dead. It’s odd, but I think the Walking Dead has been the most grounded, realistic thing that I’ve done thus far. I think I’m going to do more stuff like that moving forward.
The Walking Dead is coming back on Feb. 12. What can you say about the next batch of shows?
I’ve moved on! I’m not thinking of the Walking Dead right now!
Oh, come on.
Well, we very much come back for the second half of the season following up on all of the questions that the viewers have about the barn situation. What does Hershel know? Was he keeping things from them? Did he know Sofia was in the barn? We kind of hit the ground running from there. It’s very much the catalyst that leads to a lot of cool events.
Cast member Norman Reedus said in an interview that the second half of the season would feature more action than the first.
I will say that the second of the half of the season is somewhat jam-packed and has a lot of kick-ass stuff. So I guess I can confirm that! But, yeah, I actually just watched episodes 11, 12, and 13, all in one night, reviewing some new cuts. And it’s an insane bunch of episodes. There’s a lot of stuff packed in there and there’s quite a bit of cool action stuff. So it is somewhat more faster-paced than the first half of the season.
You can check out the covers for the first two issues of Thief of Thieves below.