What’s the difference between writing a comic and writing a TV show? Increasingly, not a whole lot, according to Robert Kirkman. The Walking Dead overlord knows of what he speaks being both the creator of the original comic and one of the scribes responsible for the AMC adaptation (which returns to our screens October 14). “Television has become more and more serialized,” says Kirkman. “It’s moved into much more of a model where there are important plot details that continue from episode to episode. That’s something which has been in comics so long — we’re getting to the point where the two mediums really go hand in hand.”
Kirkman is further testing that theory with Clone, the latest venture from Skybound, his Image Comics imprint. Due to hit stores November 14, the sci fi-meets-conspiracy thriller title details the adventures of one Dr. Luke Taylor whose preparations for fatherhood are interrupted when he discovers, as the title hints, that there are more than one of him running around. Clone is written by David Schulner, a TV vet whose credits include The Event and Kings but who is a newbie when it comes to penning comics.
Kirkman and Schulner discuss Clone below — where you’ll also find a preview of the comic’s first eight pages.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did Clone come about?
DAVID SCHULNER: Boy, let’s see… Um… How Clone came about…
ROBERT KIRKMAN: [Laughs]
EW: Already, I can tell you’re a master story teller!
DS: I’ll throw this to Robert! No, basically, I work in Hollywood, I write for television, and I brought this as a TV idea to the producers at Circle of Confusion (a management and production company), who are involved with Walking Dead and Robert. They said, “What do you think about turning it into a comic?” And I said, “If someone teaches me how to write comics, sure.” And they said, “Don’t worry about that part, just develop it how you would develop it for a television show.” Then, once I told people I’m writing comic books, they went, “Oh, I’m writing comic books too!” All my friends, I realized, who are writing for TV and writing for film, also do comic books or they do comic books and also write for TV and film. So it’s a whole community of writers that I am now proud to be a part of.
Could you set up the story?
DS: Sure. My wife was pregnant and all of a sudden you realize, “My identity is going to change.” I was going to become someone entirely different. And I thought, what if you started on some regular guy, who was going to be a father, his whole identity was going to change so he was already kind of questioning who he was, and then all of a sudden he heard footsteps outside and he saw a trail of blood, and he followed this trail of blood, and it led to a version of himself, a clone of himself clutching his gut, bleeding from a gunshot wound, saying “They’re coming for you, they’re coming for all of us.” And that’s how the story starts.
Robert, you must get pitched a lot of ideas. What attracted you about this one?
RK: David’s writing. It’s really tight and it has that element of the fantastic against the mundane. It’s about a new father whose dealing with the upcoming birth of his child and he has a lot of father issues himself — which we will be getting into in the series — but he’s also got this whole new world where he’s experiencing these clones and finding out a lot more about himself that he didn’t know before. It’s just a really cool concept. At Skybound we try to do a select few number of titles that we really feel are special and this is a really good example of the kind of original, unique material that we are looking for,
Any hiccups along the way?
DS: Any time I wrote something or tried to do something that was my idea of how a comic book should go, immediately Robert and David (Alpert, Circle of Confusion partner and Walking Dead executive producer) were like, “That’s how you think comic books today are?”
Were you putting “KAPOW!!!” into fight sequences?
DS: Not even that. Any time I tried to simplify an emotional arc or simplify a plot point, they just said, “That’s too easy. Life is messier, relationships are messier, and the psychology is messier—and don’t shy away from that.” I was like, “Wow, I had no idea I could do that.”
Robert, why did you decide to pair David with Clone artist Juan Jose Ryp?
RK: I thought that, because David is somewhat new to the comic book format, it would be good to get somebody who is a bit of a seasoned pro and so we hooked him with Juan Jose Ryp, whom I had been watching for many many years. He had done a lot of really great books with a writer named Warren Ellis and had recently been doing some books at Marvel — he did a really cool Wolverine series there. I’ve got to say, when people see these pages, he’s really blowing the doors off.
David, while this may be the first comic you’ve written, I understand your family has some previous form in the industry.
Yeah, my first time at Comic Con, I guess 12 years ago, was for my grandfather (Jack Kamen), who was an illustrator at EC Comics. He did the graphics for the movie Creepshow and so I just grew up with that Creepshow poster in my house. [Laughs] People being mutilated by chainsaws and decapitated in graveyards and all those illustrations were always up in my grandfather’s house. So it was really emotional for me to go to Comic-Con with Skybound and be a part of that.
David, what’s going on with your new show Do No Harm?
We are in production in Philadelphia and we’re going to air Sunday nights at 10 on NBC after football. That is – this shows how limited I am as a writer [laughs] – that is basically an updated Jekyll and Hyde. It’s about a successful neurosurgeon with two different personalities who constantly are working against each other.
TV writers have to jump through so many hoops just to get to the pilot stage. Getting Clone off the ground must have been easier, right?
DS: I don’t know. Maybe it’s easy for other people. It wasn’t that easy for me. And especially not the first time. The bar has been set so high at Skybound. I felt a great deal of pressure to live up to that. I don’t know. Robert, does it get easier?
RK: Nope, never does. [Laughs]
Click through to read the first eight pages of Clone.
Next: Page 2