Robert Kirkman

Robert Kirkman

Born in Richmond, Kentucky, Kirkman was a devoted fan of comic books, but discovered that he lacked the artistic talent to draw them. His school years were, by his own admission, marked by mediocre grades, but he developed close friendships with several like-minded fellow students, including a budding artist named Tony Moore. Following graduation, Kirkman supported himself with a variety of jobs, including a stint at a comic book store that gave him a working knowledge of the industry and self-publishing a title. Kirkman and Moore soon established their own small press company, Funk-O-Tron, which issued its first comic book, a parody of superhero tropes called Battle Pope, in 2000. Though the financial returns were minimal, and Kirkman had amassed a sizable debt in the process of publishing the title, he decided to quit his day job and devote his attention to the new company. In 2002, Kirkman experienced his first success with Invincible, about a youthful would-be superhero who struggles to launch his own crime-fighting career, as well as his legacy as the son of the world's most powerful hero. The following year, he struck paydirt with The Walking Dead, a story about the fate of human survivors following a zombie apocalypse. Created and penned by Kirkman and initially drawn by Moore, the series was inspired by Kirkman's fondness for horror movies featuring zombies, most notably writer-director George A. Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" (1968) and its numerous sequels, and shared the subgenre's explicit gore and dark themes. The series was a massive success, allowing Kirkman to not only pay off his debts but also gain entry into the mainstream comics industry via the venerable Marvel Comics. Kirkman wrote for a number of major Marvel series, including the "Avengers Disassembled" storyline for Captain America, Ultimate X-Men and Fantastic Four. He also wrote the initial five-issue run of Marvel Zombies, which pitted the company's bullpen of iconic superheroes against a zombie plague that turned many of them into the living dead, and created The Irredeemable Ant-Man (2006), which imagined what might happen if a person of questionable moral values was granted the size-changing powers of Ant-Man. While working for Marvel, Kirkman also continued with The Walking Dead, as well as other titles for its publisher, Image Comics. These included The Astounding Wolf-Man in 2007 and Brit, about a seemingly normal man who is completely impervious to injury. In 2008, Kirkman was made a partner at Image Comics, which brought an end to his regular freelance work for Marvel, though he would later contribute to their Destroyer and X-Force series in later years. The year 2010 proved to be Kirkman's watershed year: AMC ordered a pilot for a series based on The Walking Dead, for which he would serve as executive producer and occasional screenwriter. The series proved to be a massive success, generating huge audience numbers for the basic cable channel and netting three Emmys as well as countless award nominations. Kirkman also announced that he would launch and oversee a new imprint for Image Comics called Skybound, which would reissue many of his early works, including Invincible and Tech Jacket, as well as new creations like Super Dinosaur and the suspense-superhero title Thief of Thieves.The outpouring of success for Kirkman was briefly interrupted by a legal suit filed in 2012 by Tony Moore, who alleged that he had sold his rights to the Walking Dead comic book and TV series in exchange for payments that never materialized. Kirkman filed a countersuit, but the two parties eventually reached a settlement that satisfied both sides. Kirkman then returned to overseeing his creative empire, which soon included Skybound's first entry into feature film production with "Air," a theatrical release starring The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus. That same year, Cinemax and Fox International Channels announced that they had purchased a pilot based on Kirkman's Skybound comic series Outcast, about a man battling demonic forces. AMC also announced that Kirkman had penned the pilot for a new series that would spin off from "The Walking Dead." Tentatively titled "Cobalt," the show would take place in the early stages of the zombie apocalypse.