'The Walking Dead's Robert Kirkman on if This Is Andrew Lincoln's Last Season

The Walking Dead fandom was rocked earlier this summer, when it was announced that series star Andrew Lincoln is leaving in season 9. Well, Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman dropped by IMDb's hangout pad at San Diego Comic-Con 2018, and spoke with host Kevin Smith about whether or not Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes is really departing after his season 9 run.

Here's what Kirkman had to say, during his exchange with Smith:

Kevin Smith: "What we saw in the last month is that one of our own is going away. One of the O.G.'s. Andrew Lincoln has said that this will be his last season?"

Robert Kirkman: "It's looking that way." (Laughs)

Smith: "How does that grab you as the creator of the book? In your world - there have been two very different stories for Rick in the show and in the comic, and he's still got all ten digits [fingers] in the show. How does that affect you? Because you're like 'Wait, wait, wait, man! You're going , well I still got Rick going on!"

Kirkman: "Yeah well it does make the differences between the comic and the show a little bit more... pronounced. But at the end of the day it's all about Andrew Lincoln: I mean this is a human being, this is someone I've known for almost a decade, this is somebody that I love. He's been sweatin' in Georgia away from his family for so long."

Smith: "And tamping down his natural British accent, which is something he should get applauded for the most.

Kirkman: "You can't do that: If I had a British accent, how could you hold that back?"

Smith: "If somebody made me speak British all year long, and I had to tamp down my American, I too would be like 'I'm outta here after season 9."

Kirkman: "He cares about the fans; he cares about the show deeply; he wants to do something special on the way out; we got something amazing planned; I wouldn't want to spoil anything, but anybody who's been a fan of his journey, who loves Rick Grimes, who loves the world of The Walking Dead: You're going to want to see what we do."

The Walking Dead comic book was originally created to be what so many other stories in the genre were not: an unending story of life in the zombie apocalypse. Kirkman's comic book version of Rick has and weathered some truly life-changing blows, but is still alive and kicking, as he and his fellow survivors continue to learn more about larger world around them.

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While it works fantastically on the page, the medium of television is vastly different, and The Walking Dead TV show was never going to be what it is in the comic book medium. Earlier this year, when we here at Comicbook.com/TheWalkingDead questioned whether the show should end soon, one big topic of discussion was career path of actors, and what it means to stick with a role for almost a decade. For many actors, that type of consistency isn't necessarily a gift, as the pull to explore new roles and challenges is always present. For Andrew Lincoln, nearly a decade in an iconic role seems to be the limit - and there's little reason to fault him for that.

What remains to be seen is how the main Walking Dead series fares without Rick, and if more fans start to jump into the much-improved Fear The Walking Dead spinoff.