Kirkman addressed the book's reduced focus on walker action in the "Letter Hacks" column ending this month's The Walking Dead #190, where he answered a letter criticizing the series' shift away from the undead, who now feel like "an afterthought or slight irritation."
"I think we got a LIIIITTLE interesting zombie action with Eugene's fire extinguisher trick," Kirkman wrote, citing a standout scene from The Walking Dead #189 which saw Eugene, trapped inside an engine car, MacGyver a spinning fire extinguisher as a distraction to escape a herd of walkers.
"But really, the zombie aspect doesn't interest me all that much after all these years. Seeing people caught by zombies and eaten isn't fun for me. And narratively... for people to have lived this long, they need to be smart enough to avoid those kinds of traps... so that's why it doesn't happen as often."
"For better or worse, this book has evolved past intestine-eating," Kirkman added. "I'm not saying it'll NEVER happen again... but it'll never be the focus. I said all I wanted to say about avoiding and getting eaten by zombies in the first 50 issues or so."
The book, launched in 2003, has long depicted humans as the greater threat in a desolate world overrun by re-animated, flesh-eating corpses. The walkers in turn act as sometimes-dangerous background noise while Rick Grimes and the survivors battle groups of humans, including the oppressive Saviors and then the walker skin-wearing Whisperers, who would weaponize the walkers in their war against Rick's growing civilization.
The Walking Dead currently finds Rick embroiled in a quickly worsening situation at the Commonwealth, a near-utopia network of settlements comprised of 50,000-something survivors. This story, diving into political and sociological issues, isn't without its dangers: the Commonwealth is now in the middle of a revolt against the upper class and has since been breached by an overwhelming number of walkers.
When celebrating its 15th anniversary in October, Kirkman said The Walking Dead isn't ending anytime soon, but he does have a general idea of an endgame.
"I know what I'm building to, to eventually wrap things up," he told Variety. "If I didn't have that I'd just be twisting in the wind trying to lay track. I don't know if that's going to come in 1,000 issues or 100 issues, but I know what the conclusion of the story is and what has to happen to get there."
The Walking Dead next releases issue #191 May 1.
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