The Walking Dead Creator Robert Kirkman “Felt Awful For Weeks” After Ending the Comic Book

The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman "felt awful for weeks" over ending his long running comic book after 16 years and 193 issues in July 2019. Like the many zombie apocalypse survivors who met a sudden end over the course of its run, The Walking Dead ended without warning: its super-sized, 72-page final issue closed out with a letter to the reader confirming the story had reached its end, with a grown-up Carl Grimes sharing father Rick Grimes' adventures with young daughter Andrea Grimes. It was an ending planned for several years by Kirkman and artist Charlie Adlard, who treated the secret ending like its own surprise death.

"I ended The Walking Dead because that was the end of the story. The story was set to be a certain thing, and I reached that point and wrapped it up," Kirkman said on The Drawl. "I had the idea to wrap it up the way I did by not telling anybody about five years ago. I was like, 'This is gonna be the best, this is gonna be so good. This is gonna surprise people. Killing the book will be a shocking death, like killing a character in the book. How do you pass that up? This is gonna be great.':

"I was so excited, years of being excited working towards the end," he added. "The minute I finished that script, I was like, 'What have I done?' It felt like I had deliberately killed a family member by accident."

Like a death, Kirkman mourned the series he started with Tony Moore in 2003.

"I felt awful for weeks. There were a few days where I'd just walk around the house like [despondent]," Kirkman said. "My wife would be like, 'Everything okay?' 'Yeah, I'm fine, I'm fine, don't worry about it.' But those pages start coming in and I'm like, 'This is kind of cool, I'm happy that this is working out.' And then finally, when people read the story, and there weren’t people with pitchforks outside my house, I was like, 'Okay, okay. That's cool.'"

While the fan backlash Kirkman feared never materialized, it's "definitely weird" no longer scripting a dozen issues of The Walking Dead yearly.

"It feels like there's a part of myself that is no longer there anymore," Kirkman said. "But I tell myself I own The Walking Dead, I could bring it back if I wanted to."

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Even without the comic book, Kirkman added, "I still get to work on the show, I still get to work on video games. There's still Walking Dead in my life. Some would say almost too much Walking Dead, but not me. I wouldn't say that."

New episodes of The Walking Dead Season 10 premiere Sundays on AMC. For all things TWD, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.