The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman says his long-running comic book benefited when he joined the writers room of the AMC television series. His involvement with the show, launched under then-showrunner Frank Darabont in 2010, made for "stronger stories" that would then be adapted into live-action with various showrunners — Darabont's replacement, Glen Mazzara, Scott Gimple, and current showrunner Angela Kang — often deviating from the comic book source material, including the addition of show-only character Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), who was elevated to series lead following the departure of former leading man Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln). Kirkman explains how his time with the television series inspired by his comic book, which he concluded after 16 years in 2019, made the source material stronger:
"Being in The Walking Dead writers room was the most humbling [experience]. It was a lot of fun," Kirkman told CartoonistKayfabe. "You're in a room eight to ten hours a day with six, seven other writers — I think most of them were older than me, too — but all of them more skilled. They've all done more stuff, and definitely had more schooling than me — I barely graduated high school — so I'm constantly learning from them."
"More than that, they're tearing my work apart every day," Kirkman said with a laugh, admitting the show's writers would sometimes point out parts of his book that "didn't really work."
"I'd be like, 'I get it, there was definitely a problem with that that I had to deal with, and I had to do this and this because of it. It would work better if we did it this way,'" he said. "And it was a lot of fun. I can imagine for some people it would be a very frustrating experience, but I do feel like I learned a lot."
Kirkman recalls joining the television show's writing staff around the time of issue #70, released in 2010, where Rick Grimes leads his group of zombie apocalypse survivors into the gated Alexandria Safe-Zone.
"I think the comic book got better ... I think the stories got a lot stronger from there," Kirkman said, adding his role in the writers room made him "more experimental" with his comic books.
"I'd be like, 'Okay, this is how it works in TV, and this is how you guys have to do it, these are the rules you guys have to follow. I'm going to go home and work on this thing in this fantastic medium you guys barely know about, where I can do whatever the f— I want, and then you a—holes are gonna be copying it in three years,'" Kirkman said, laughing.