"I know what I have to do to get where I'm going," he told Variety. "I know the stories that have to be told, the deaths that have to happen, the changes I need to make to push things forward and evolve. When I get to those points I'll know it's time. I don't think anyone should have concerns about things wrapping up too soon."
Kirkman has long pre-planned the books, often plotting out three or four plots ahead of wherever he is in the current story. "When you see the prison around issue 50, I already have the hunters planned and I'm sowing seeds to do that," Kirkman said.
The Walking Dead, which celebrated 15 years on Saturday with the first-ever Walking Dead Day, isn't meandering aimlessly: Kirkman knows where he's going, but not how long it will take to get there, and he has at least 50 more issues' worth of ideas and five or six story arcs already in the works.
"I know what I'm building to, to eventually wrap things up," he said. "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 book next releases its 185th issue as part of its 31st volume.
Kirkman said previously he strives to pull off a "satisfying" ending and that the series' fans deserve a conclusive endpoint.
"I do have an endpoint in mind for The Walking Dead, and I think that it's my responsibility — and the responsibility of all the writers on the TV show — to the audience, because they've been on this journey for so long," Kirkman told SJN.
"The Walking Dead isn't gonna last forever. It might go on for many, many, many more years, but I think that for anyone that's been on that journey for that long, they deserve a satisfying end. They deserve to know that the time that they invested in this thing was all working towards something, and was building to some kind of reward, and so I think to not have any kind of end goal in mind and not have a plan would be terrible."