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Could ‘Outcast’ be Robert Kirkman’s next big hit?

OutcastThe official announcement on Tuesday of a new horror series by Robert Kirkman looks promising, but can it repeat the success of The Walking Dead? The co-creator of one of  most successful comic books of the past decade has become one of the high-profile figures in the industry, so the new project (with artist Paul Azaceta) calls out for a closer look.

When his zombie comic debuted in 2003, Kirkman was primarily known for superhero comics, like the more traditional Invincible, which had launched only months earlier, or the parody Battle Pope. A black-and-white horror comic that had none of the Spider-Man-style lightheartedness of those early Invincible issues or the dark humor of Battle Pope was unexpected from the writer. Even his lesser-known work, like Tech Jacket, Brit, Superpatriot or (how’s this for obscure?) the Masters of the Universe: Icons of Evil one-shots and Space Ace, all typically fell somewhere within that spectrum, never getting too dark and sometimes heading into outright comedies. Of course, any writer worth his salt can do more than one genre or tone. The Walking Dead definitively stepped out of his known territory, immediately proving itself to be startlingly tense, dark and dead serious. And like 30 Days of Night the year before, it demonstrated once again that comics could do horror.

Word of mouth about the series soon spread, with sales of each issue improving during an industry-wide slump. It became a cult hit, and by the time the first collected edition was released, back issues were beginning to spike on the resale market. Each subsequent year, sales seemed to grow exponentially, until it became the perennial hit that it is today. Needless to say, this led to a television deal with AMC and the pop culture phenomenon that it’s become, which has helped accelerate a zombie craze.

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Comics A.M. | San Diego Convention Center plan faces agency hurdle

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Conventions | A even bigger obstacle than the San Diego Chargers to the proposed $520 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center could be the California Coastal Commission, which must approve the project before it can proceed (the stage agency has regulatory oversight of land use and public access to the California coastal zone). The commission’s 11 members are meeting today through Friday in Mission Valley, where they’re expected to consider staff objections about reduced access to the bay; a bridge, estimated to cost about $42 million, from the foot of Fourth Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter has been floated as a solution. A public hearing is being held Thursday. The expansion of the convention center is viewed as critical to keeping Comic-Con International in the city past 2015. [U-T San Diego]

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NYCC ’13 | Documentary, art show celebrate 10 years of ‘Walking Dead’

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In celebration of the 10th anniversary of The Walking Dead, Hyundai will present special events next week during New York Comic Con dedicated to the long-running comic by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn.

Held at Pillars37 in Midtown Manhattan, “The Walking Dead: A Decade of Dead” begins at 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 10 with the opening an art showcase curated by Skybound Editorial Director Sina Grace featuring rare artwork, well-known illustrations and a signing by Adlard. Exclusive limited-edition prints will be given daily to gallery guests during the showcase, which continues through Oct. 12.

The 20-minute documentary The Walking Dead: A Decade of Dead, which chronicles the evolution of the property from comic book to hit television series, will have its world-premiere screening Friday, Oct. 11. Doors open at 7:30 p.m; a 15-minute Q&A will follow. Afterward, there’s an invitation-only party.

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‘The Walking Dead’ heads to school with free online course

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The zombie hordes won’t be stopped by the gates of academia.

AMC, Instructure and the University of California, Irvine have teamed up for a massive open online course (MOOC) “exploring a broad range of scholarly topics through the lens of a hypothetical zombie apocalypse.” Or should that be “hypothetical” zombie apocalypse?

Announced this morning, “Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC’s The Walking Dead is a free, eight-week course taught by UC Irvine faculty in the fields of social sciences, public health, physics and astronomy, and mathematics. According to the course description, the online class will tackle such topics as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, social orders and structures, the spread of infectious diseases, and nutrition in a post-apocalyptic world (particularly relevant to Daryl Dixon, the latter asks, “Are squirrels really good for you?”).

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Image reveals first of 10 covers for ‘The Walking Dead’ #115

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To celebrate the 10th anniversary of The Walking Dead in October — hey, that’s when the four season of the AMC TV show premieres! — the 115th issue will be released with 1o connecting covers, with each depicting a significant moment and a special moment from the past decade. All of them will be illustrated by Charlie Adlard and colored by Dave Stewart.

Each weekday for the next two weeks, Image Comics will reveal part of the connecting covers for Issue 115. Today’s peek resurrects a particularly painfully memory from the series’ third year. Check it out below. The Walking Dead #115 arrives Oct. 9.

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‘The Walking Dead’ returns to ‘Halloween Horror Nights’

UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT THE WALKING DEADThe Walking Dead will return to Universal Studios’ “Halloween Horror Nights” in September with new mazes inspired by the third season of the hit AMC drama.

The mazes at Universal Hollywood and Universal Orlando will place visitors in the Prison — aka the West Georgia Correctional Facility — and then send them fleeing through the wilderness to the walled town of Woodbury, where even worse terrors reside.

And for the first time in the event’s 23-year history, all of the scare zones at Universal Orlando will feature a common theme, as visitors walking the streets of the park will come face to face with scenes from the television series’ first three seasons, including an overrun Atlanta and Hershel’s barn. Oh, and walkers — lots and lots of walkers.

“What’s great about working with a property like The Walking Dead is that each season presents new environments and characters for us to draw inspiration,” John Murdy, creative director for Universal Studios Hollywood, said in a statement. “With the prison as the main setting of Season 3, we seized this opportunity to recreate that very environment, down to the last detail, to be as genuine and authentic to the show as possible. Using movie-quality production value, our goal is to make guests feel as if they are mired in the world of blood-thirsty zombies, which is something you can only do at ‘Halloween Horror Nights.'”

“Halloween Horror Nights” begins Sept. 20.

‘The Walking Dead’ dominates bookstore sales in 2013

walking dead-compendium oneThe first two Walking Dead Compendium volumes have sold a combined 100,000 copies this year in bookstores, towering above the other titles on Nielsen BookScan’s list of the Top 10 bestselling adult graphic novels for the first half of 2013. With a suggested price of $59.99, Image Comics’ 1,088-page Compendium One is “by far” the most expensive book on BookScan’s Top 200 chart for adult fiction.

Graphic novel sales have increased 10 percent year over year, which the company seems to attribute in no small part to the performance of the collections of the long-running comic by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn, and the popularity of the AMC television series.

Volumes of The Walking Dead accounted for four of the top five spots on the BookScan chart, a streak only interrupted by Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto, Vol. 60, at No. 4. In fact, six of the Top 10 graphic novels were held by Image books, with another volume of The Walking Dead claiming the No. 7 spot, and Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga, Vol. 1, slipping into the final slot with 15,000 copies; the remaining books are manga.

According to BookScan, The Walking Dead books have sold more than 1 million unites in the past 18 months, with Compendium One seeing “a 47 percent week-to-week sales lift” that coincided with the Season 3 finale of the AMC series in March.

Robert Kirkman strikes back in new Course of the Force video

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For the latest video to promote Course of the Force, the Star Wars-themed charity relay that ends Tuesday in San Diego ahead of Comic-Con International, The Nerdist‘s Chris Hardwick turns to none other than Robert Kirkman to lend a hand. No, no, the other hand.

The nearly five-minute comedy skit not only exposes the duo’s bloody rivalry but reveals just what Hollywood has done to the comics creator.

The Walking Dead is, like, the biggest show on TV — it gets higher ratings than anything on NBC!” a vengeful Kirkman declares to Hardwick. “If you factor in inflation, The Walking Dead has more people watching it than Seinfeld, Friends or The Cosby Show combined! Now I have more Hollywood power than you can possibly imagine!”

Oh, and Kirkman is a cyborg — a promotion-happy cyborg. Just watch it below.

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SDCC ’13 | Kirkman’s Skybound reveals convention exclusives

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Robert Kirkman’s Skybound Entertainment has announced exclusive merchandise for Comic-Con International that includes the Invincible Compendium One hardcover, The Walking Dead comic series PVC figure packs, and a limited-edition Peavey Predator full-size guitar with art by The Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard.

Considering this year marks the 10th anniversary of The Walking Dead, the PVC figures ($15 each or $100 for all nine) and the guitar ($500) are only the beginning of the items from the long-running horror/survival series. There’s also the Compendium Two hardcover with gold foil ($100), the Skybound-exclusive McFarlane Toys Governor action figure in riot gear ($25), and the “Horde” watch from Vannen, featuring more art by Adlard ($75).

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Prepare for apocalypse with ‘The Walking Dead’ debit cards

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If you’ve been dying for a way to let cashiers know of your love for The Walking Dead even as the flesh-eating hordes storm the counter, Card.com and Robert Kirkman’s Skybound have the solution: Walking Dead Visa prepaid debit cards.

“Having The Walking Dead art on these credit cards will be an exciting way for fans to incorporate the series’ art into their daily lives,” Kirkman says in the press release.

Fans have their choice of seven designs, all featuring Charlie Adlard art, but none really saying, “Consumerism!” More like, “Holy shit, where are all those walkers coming from?” There’s Rick Grimes on horseback entering a devastated Atlanta, Michonne baring her katana, and, well, lots and lots of the undead (including an image of Rick, Michonne, Andrea, Abraham and Morgan as walkers). You can see all of the designs here.

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Six free comics we can’t wait to get our hands on today

fcbd 2013Free Comic Book Day is once again upon us, the day that current and hopefully potential comic fans flock to their local comic shop to sample a buffet of comic choices from publishers large and small. There’s a lot to sink your teeth into this time around, from previews of new or upcoming stuff — like Marble Season and Superman: The Last Son of Krypton #1 to first issues of brand new comics — like The Strangers #1 and Aphrodite IX #1. There are original comics, licensed comics, kids comics, anthologies … basically something for everyone.

Some retailers will offer all-you-can-eat options, while others might have limits on what you can get … so if you have to make a choice, here are six comics we’re particularly looking to sink our teeth into.

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Quote of the Day | ‘This show is a different animal’

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“I think fans of the comics recognize that this show is a different animal. There are big departures that have happened on the show before and it’s the show’s M.O. at this point. I think people are seeing that it doesn’t really preclude other big storylines from the comic book when we put a death in the show. We are still very much following the path of the comic book and you’ll see a lot of that in Season 4. There are going to be differences from time to time and some big differences. People know the comic still exists, and I want people to experience both and get a somewhat different experience. I think it’s cool that there are differences that are going to make the show as dramatic, startling and unpredictable as the comic book was the first time you read it. That’s really what we’re going after.”

Robert Kirkman, responding to a question regarding potential concerns that a major development in last night’s Season 3 finale of The Walking Dead might alienate fans of the long-running comic series

Comics A.M. | Yen Press nabs ‘Kingdom Hearts’ license

Kingdom Hearts

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Manga | Yen Press announced a number of new manga licenses over the weekend at SakuraCon, including the manga series based on the Square Enix game Kingdom Hearts. The company will re-release some of the manga originally published by Tokyopop and publish some of the newer series as well. [Anime News Network]

Creators | Christopher Irving interviews, and Seth Kusher photographs, The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman: “I am certain that I will never be able to top it, and I’m coming to grips with that. It’s somewhat disconcerting that something I created when I was 23 will be something I’m remembered for when I die, when I’m 35 (or whenever it is). …I’ll be 34 in a little bit, so I wasn’t being too optimistic for myself.” [Graphic NYC]

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Quote of the Day | ‘We could literally kill Rick at some point’

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“I just think what he does is really brave. He really loves these characters as well, and it makes it unique that we’re able to do this. We could literally kill Rick at some point. I’m not going to say we are, but why not kill him? There’s no reason. The Walking Dead could easily survive without Rick, and I personally think it would be incredibly interesting. We could do it in some random issue where the reader isn’t expecting it, not like issue #150 or some anniversary issue. I think it would be very cool.”

The Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard, talking with Comic Book Resources about writer Robert Kirkman’s penchant for shocking readers in the popular horror comic

Robert Kirkman talks ‘The Walking Dead’ on ‘Conan’

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Robert Kirkman appeared last night on TBS’s Conan to discuss all things Walking Dead, from his wife’s distaste for his zombie franchise to rejected merchandising opportunities — perfume! energy drinks! — to host Conan O’Brien’s nitpicks, including why there are no undead animals.

“The honest answer to that is, The Walking Dead is based on a comic book,” Kirkman replied, “the artist that draws the comic book, Charlie Adlard, loves drawing people, loves drawing zombies, does not enjoy drawing animals so much.”

Watch the clips below.

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