'Walking Dead' comic creator Robert Kirkman talks about last night's episode, 'Tell It to the Frogs'

the-walking-deadLast night’s episode of The Walking Dead was a fairly gore-free zone, by the standards of AMC’s hit zombie show. True, we did get to see one of the undead chowing down on the insides of a deer before being beheaded — and then arrowed through the brain by a new character, Daryl Dixon, played by Boondock Saints star Norman Reedus. And the episode concluded with the image of a recently severed hand belonging to — or, by that point, not belonging to — Daryl’s brother Merle (Michael Rooker). But compared to the mayhem of last week’s let’s-wear-intestines-like-a-scarf, blood-a-thon Guts, this was a veritable Merchant-Ivory-esque yakfest — albeit one not short of incident as Rick was reunited with Lori (who thus discovered that Shane had been lying about her husband’s demise) and the hotheaded Daryl was informed that his sibling had been left to perish on the top of a building in Atlanta.

Regardless, it almost seemed like, having presumably repelled all the people who don’t like zombie movies with the first two shows, the behind-the-scenes team had decided to get rid of everyone who does enjoy a good undead flick with the third episode. “We’re really trying to burn through this audience as fast as we can,” laughs Robert Kirkman who writes the Walking Dead comic series and is an executive producer on the TV adaptation. “There are entirely too many people watching this show.”

Kirkman can afford to joke about ratings. The pilot episode of The Walking Dead — which was helmed by Shawshank Redemption‘s Frank Darabont — garnered an very impressive audience of 5.3 million viewers. Unsurprisingly, AMC announced a week ago that it was ordering a second season of the show, which will comprise 13 episodes, as opposed to the current run of six.

After the jump, Kirkman talks about last night’s episode, “Tell It to the Frogs,” the Rick-Lori-Shane love triangle, and, why he can’t be blamed for that Miss Piggy-oral sex gag.

walking-dead-3Image Credit: Scott Garfield/AMCENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So has anything exciting happened to you over the last few days?
ROBERT KIRKMAN: [Laughs] That is the best way to congratulate me for the second season being approved. Thank you. Although I do this funny thing when you congratulate me for it, where I act like that’s the first time I’ve heard it.

Shall we do that?
Yeah, go ahead.

Congratulations Robert, on your show being picked up.
What? SERIOUSLY?

I loved the scene at the start of the episode with Michael Rooker. It’s not often you see a, quote unquote, bad person on their own, despairing like that.
Yeah. It’s a testament to Michael Rooker’s talent that when you watch that scene you actually forget all the s— he did in the second episode and you start to feel bad for him. Despite the fact that he’s yelling obscenities and still being an a–hole, there is kind of a humanity there. I think it’s a remarkable piece of work. He should be very proud.

This was almost a totally zombie-free episode.
A lot of the actors in the press have been saying things like, “It really takes three episodes for you to see what this show is about.” And I think that’s true. The first three episodes are very different. The first one is slow and methodical and focuses entirely on Rick. The second one adds a few characters and is very action-packed, and has a very quick pace. And then the third episode is much more character-driven than the other two episodes. I think from those three episodes you can see the three different things that this show is planning on doing — sometimes in the same episode. I think there is a mixture of these elements in the fourth episode. I think that these three styles can exist in one show is pretty awesome and people are really going to dig it. I also want to note that, yeah, this is a largely zombie-free episode but it does have one of the best zombies of the series so far. I think [Walking Dead makeup supervisor] Greg Nicotero’s makeup job on the main zombie that appears in episode three is one of this best. And it’s also important to note that that is him, actually.

You’re talking about the zombie who was eating the deer?
Yeah, that is totally Greg. And Greg tells some pretty funny stories about getting the snot beat out of him in that scene too. I like to poke fun at Greg because I think that he basically sits on the sidelines and tries to come up with ways to convince people that he’s the only person that can be this particular zombie. He pops up quite a bit in the first six episodes. More than you’d think.

Do you play a zombie at any point?
I do not. I have a lot of weird pet peeves. I don’t like it when people say “slaw” instead of “cole slaw.” And I really don’t like it when people cameo in their own things. I love the Lord of the Rings movies, but every time I see Peter Jackson, it just annoys me. I’m like, “Oh yeah? You put yourself in your own movie! Good job!

Right, and see how disastrously those movies turned out.
Well, it’s fine. And 99 percent of the audience doesn’t know that’s him and he had a good time doing it and good for him. It’s just a ridiculous thing that annoys me, and I like the idea of sitting down and watching this show later and the last thing that I want to see when I watch the episodes is myself. I hate myself!

walking-dead-1Image Credit: Scott Garfield/AMCJudging from our online commenters, Lori is turning out to be the show’s most polarizing character. You must have expected that, given her affair with Shane.
I already dealt with a lot of that in the comic book series. I think some of that gets diffused in the third episode, once we get a clearer picture on what happened. It’s good to start in a certain place with characters and change your opinion on them as you watch the show. I think that’s one of the wonders of television, that you’re able to do that. I can’t tell you how many great television series I’ve watched where a character gets introduced and I cannot stand them and then by the second season, they’re one of my favorite characters. And I think that’s the case here. Also, it’s important to note thankfully, that no one can really put themselves in her character’s place. No one can see the world the way she saw it. For all she knew her husband was dead. And that was a very believable story because she was watching everyone around her die. Very few of us — almost none of us in the United States — ever experience something that traumatic. And while it may have only been three weeks or four weeks since she learned her husband was dead, Shane is someone that was very much a part of her life and someone she was very close to. Someone that is experiencing these things is going to be so desperate for some kind of a human connection, that they could be driven into the arms of someone that they very much liked before all this happened. That is a very easy jump to make and I think that if you try and understand things from her perspective, you will see just how much she’s had to live through and how it is quite believable for her to have done these things. And Shane’s the one you should hate! [Laughs]

The characters often refer to zombies as “geeks” in the show. That’s not from your comic book, right?
No.

Where does that come from?
You’d have to ask Frank. That’s my least favorite term for zombies. I believe it was first used in Day of the Dead. You know, it’s fine. I like the thought that characters have different names for the zombies because I think, if this were to happen in real life, there wouldn’t be a memo out there where people are like, “Oh, that’s a zombie!” So, you know: Geeks, roamers, walkers. As many possible names as we can have, I’m all for. But “geek” is Darabont’s fault!

I had assumed that it came from “geek” being used to describe the folks in the circus, as in the novel Geek Love.
[Deadpan] I don’t want to speak disparagingly of carnie folk. If you want to say that they seem like zombies to you, you can. But I respect human beings on a much more all-encompassing level…

I’m not the one who helped create a show in which this happens, sir!
I’m just saying, man. I’m just voicing my opinion!

Of course, the interesting thing is that the characters never refer to zombies as “zombies.” Which is actually a recurring trope in the undead genre. Why are zombie writers so reluctant to use the “z-word?”
I think it stems from the fact that, in the real world, we call them zombies because there are zombie movies and all that stuff. But what we try to establish in the Walking Dead and what I think they try to do in most zombie things, is we kind of ignore the fact that zombie movies exist in this world. So you don’t have people going, “Well, you know, it’s like Dawn of the Dead, you hit them in the head.” I think if they were just saying “zombie” non-stop, it could eventually kind of break the fourth wall and make people think of other zombie movies and bring that question up more: “Why haven’t they seen Dawn of the Dead? Why are they acting like this is something they don’t know about?” That’s my answer and I’m sticking to it.

Returning to the specifics of episode three, did I mishear, or did you slip a Miss Piggy oral sex joke in there?
It was definitely slipped in. But I had nothing to do with the actual writing on episode three. So I’m going to blame that on Frank too.

walking-dead-2Image Credit: Scott Garfield/AMCAt the end of the show we discovered that Merle had hacked off his own hand to escape the undead. This has been quite a year for detached appendages. There was, for example Jerry O’Connell’s penis in Piranha 3D.
I didn’t think Jerry O’Connell’s penis would come up in this interview.

I try to bring it up in every interview I do.
Well, that says more about you than it does Jerry O’Connell’s penis. But I don’t blame you, honestly.

Alas, Merle’s extremity is doomed to be the second most-famous, or infamous, severed hand of the season. You must sit there and think, “Damn you, Aron Ralston, for cutting your hand off in real-life! And damn you Danny Boyle for making a movie about it!
I hadn’t even made that connection. Dang it! Dang it! Look, at the end of the day, James Franco is one of the coolest people in Hollywood. He’s a great actor. He does all kinds of cool stuff. He was great in Milk and he was great in Pineapple Express. But it’s f—ing Michael Rooker, alright? So, screw them!!!

What would you miss most in a zombie apocalypse? And if — like Laurie Holden’s character Andrea — you want to say your vibrator, that’s fine. This is a no judgment!
Cheeseburgers? I would be thinking about my survival enough to bring my vibrator. [Laughs]

Come back next week, when Mr. Kirkman will ruminate on the next Walking Dead episode, “Vatos,” the first show to be penned by the man himself.

What did you think of last night’s episode? And what do you think of Kirkman’s spirited defense of Lori?

More about The Walking Dead:
‘Night of the Living Dead’: How a 42-year-old zombie movie refuses to die
‘The Walking Dead': Robert Kirkman talks about last night’s ‘Guts’-y episode
‘The Walking Dead': Robert Kirkman talks about last night’s shocking pilot
‘Walking Dead’ star Andrew Lincoln talks about making AMC’s new zombie hit
‘The Walking Dead’ walks on Google Maps

More about Norman Reedus:
‘The Boondock Saints II': A cult hit gets a second shot


Comments (102 total) Add your comment
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  • Luanne

    once again, a horrible episode. The subject matter really reflects the audience; stupid, brain-dead people who can’t think for themselves. Enjoy this trash while it lasts.

    • ShotgunSamurai

      DONT FEED THE TROLL

    • M&M

      Anyone else get the feeling that if a zombie actually staggered up to Luanne that last thing it would do is lick its lips and say; “Brains…”?

    • Luanne

      excuse me, but how rude! I will never encounter a zombie, unless I unfortunately meet a fan of this trash. I was judged by many of the people here for allowing my young children to watch this show, and now that I am fixing the problem by having the show cancelled, I still receive negative comments. I do not understand what you people want from me.

      • M&M

        *GASP!*

        Luanne… You… You stood up to me… That was the test! Luanne, I love you! Will you marry me?

      • Joe

        Luanne: Why do you care so much? Also, the show has been picked up for another season (13 more episodes), so it hasn’t exactly been cancelled.

      • Luanne

        oh my, I’ve never been proposed to over the internet. I don’t know if I can accept your proposal, but I thank you for being so romantic. Maybe if my first husband had been like you our marriage would have lasted. And Joe I am doing this to protect the children. My 6 year old was wetting the bed for days after watching the pilot. It took a week for my kids to just sleep in their own beds. And I have it on good authority that it has been cancelled, AMC just lied about a second season so that the zombie fans wouldn’t riot.

      • Gogo

        Congratulations on being a good parent

      • Michelle Malloy

        @Luanne I guess it says more about you as a parent than anything else. Why would you let your 6 year old watch the show? Serves you right for having to clean up a pissed soaked bed. Anywho, back to trolling you go.

      • M&M

        That’s right, darling. And the first order of business after we’re betrothed is to have you admitted to the Trembling Hills Rest Home where you’ll safely be removed from your children and you can get the help you so desperately need.

        *NOTE: Digging this show so much I almost bought a couple of the trade paperback graphic novels this weekend. Didn’t because I didn’t want to ruin the show for myself.

      • SD

        well, you should’t be surprised that your 6 year old was traumatized by a zombie show… what did you think he/she was going to watch? The show is called `The Walking Dead` not ‘Dora the explorer’. And plus, you can’t call an audience brain dead when you yourself let a *6 year old* watch it, that’s not the most intelligent thing someone has done….

      • Groove

        @ Luanne: So let me get this straight you are calling us brain-dead and YOU let your 6 YEAR OLD watch the series??

      • Mole

        Thank you Luanne, for standing up for all the parents and kindergarteners who watch horror movies at 10pm on school nights. It’s an unrepresented minority that needs attention.

      • anonymous

        @Luanne … Not falling for your schtick a second time. Shame on you.

      • Ambivalentman

        @Luanne: I’m interested in knowing why you let a 6-year old stay up till 11:30 on a Sunday night? It seems you lack sound judgment, not just in terms of what you’d let a child watch (despite parental advisory messages before every segment of the show not to mention the common sense element of keeping kids away from horror stories) but also how you manage your child’s time. Why don’t you spend more time on parenting sites and less time here?

      • MICHELLE

        Luanne, please for the love of God GO AWAY!!! You are annoying!!! please have a shred of common sense and GO AWAY!!! WE ARE ALL SICK OF YOU

      • Luanne’s First Husband

        AWAY WITH YOU, DEVIL WOMAN!!! YOU RUINED MY LIFE!!! LEAVE THESE PEOPLE IN PEACE AND RETURN TO HELL!!

      • Luanne

        I apolgoize. i realize now that letting my kids watch a movie about undead eating people was totally my fault. I can’t believe how bad of parent I am that I want to prevent others from watching this fantastic fantastic show.I have seen the light, praise be to Frank D.

      • ATL

        “My 6 year old was wetting the bed for days after watching the pilot.” Kirkman, you have officially succeeded. Luann, you have as much chance of getting the Walking Dead cancelled as you do of removing your genital warts from those rough years when you were picking up dock workers. Seriously toots, you need to get a life.

      • Andrew

        Luanne, jsut cuz you raise your son to be a winy loser doesn’t mean the show is bad. You and your over-protective tendencies can go troll about something else. If you don’t like the show, don’t watch it. My 7-yr-old thinks that TWD is the best show ever and is really into the plot and learning experiences. I hope your son realizes how you’ve raised him years from now.

    • Steve Corn

      Gosh Luann, why are you watching it? The show is totally ignoring you, you should ignore it.

    • josh

      ok how the hell have you always been the first to comment on any Walking Dead article here at PopWatch? Seriously, other PopWatch readers, look at previous articles on this site with Walking Dead attached. She is FIRST all the time.

      i applaud you for your speed… but not for your trollingness (if that is a word).

    • Louanne’s 6-yr old

      Mommy said it would be a fun show. She lied. Now I wet the bed. Why mommy? Why did you make me watch the bad show?

    • darclyte

      $1 says that “Luanne” is now the new guise for “Larry David.” I especially like how it tries to pretend to be a woman with a lot of fake details, but they all seem like a guy trying to write that way. So not only a Troll, but a Tranny Troll at that.

  • Joe

    Why didn’t Rooker’s character use the hack saw to cut through the handcuffs instead? Isn’t that what he suggested when he initially got handcuffed in episode 2?

    • ShotgunSamurai

      Maybe it’s like in Saw where you can’t cut through the chain but you can cut off your hand.

      • M&M

        They did something similiar in the original “Mad Max”, too. You can hack through your ankle but not the cuffs.

    • Dale Roe

      I figured it was a time issue. I imagine that it would be much more expedient to simply lop off one’s hand than to methodically grind way at steel when there are zombies pounding on the door.

      • Joe

        That does make sense Dale Roe. I didn’t really think about it that way.

      • Heather

        I don’t know – i think it would be harder to cut off a hand (bone, gristle, nerves) than cut through a chain. But then again I haven’t done either!

      • Nicole Larson

        I thought that the zombies pounding at the door were a hallucination? Or was that real?

    • GregR

      Why do you even bother reading the articles about the show if you don’t like the show? Talk about brain dead.

    • UncleWalty

      those cuffs were only hooked to a threaded, quarter-inch steel bolt, as I recall. A hacksaw would have gone through that in around 5 minutes. Or probably less if you were really motivated…by, say, not being eaten by zombies.

    • UncleWalty

      the problem with cutting through a chain, though, is this: the chain is going to be constantly moving. It would be almost impossible to pull it tight enough (and HOLD it there) to actually cut through it.

      • scott

        It would be hard to hold the chain tight??? Like it would be easy to cut thru your wrist without complete agony and cutting all the way thru without passing out first.

    • Kat

      I wondered about that, but figured the exposure and dehydration had maybe messed with his head to the point that he wasn’t thinking clearly.

  • ShotgunSamurai

    After last nights episode I feel bad for all the people who didn’t bother with this show just because it has got zombies. This has to be one of the most character driven entries to the Zombie genre.

    • andy

      I hear you. I loved zombie movies back in the 80’s but after a while it was just irritating. But I watched the first episode of this thing and was hooked!

  • Sean

    Great episode! Luanne is clearly in the minority, and I don’t understand her need to post on something that she finds abhorrent. A troll by definition.

    I enjoyed the human drama of this episode- we are going to need episodes like this to balance out the gorefests. Keep ‘em coming!

  • Lori R

    Great episode! I will never understand why people like Luanne bother to A) Read the recap on a show she clearly doesn’t like and B) Take the time to write a negative comment about a show she clearly doesn’t like. Why bother?
    ANYWAY, yes, it was a little slower but it has to be in order to build up the storyline. Interesting that Shane told Lori that Rick was dead…I was assuming they mutually left him at the hospital thinking it was a goner.

  • Luanne S.

    I enjoy the show. I lot of talking between Rick and Lori in 103 that put me to sleep for about 15 minutes…so I have to watch it again on demand.

    I love love love the show but I hate being brought to intense, exciting moments, only to then go into a 15 minute talking scene about NOTHING relevant.

    I will keep watching, regardless, but the story line in Left 4 Dead (the video game) is turning out better than the The Walking Dead.

    Staying true to the Comics doesn’t have to equate to being boring.

    Lets get back to the exciting moments like 101 and 102 had. 103 was so boring!

    • Amanda Kiwinerd

      You are an idiot. Go back to watching Medium and Ghost Whisperer reruns.

      • Kimberly

        Ummm, chill, Amanda. I think that “Luanne S.” is different from the knob posting uptop at “Luanne.” I suspect the latter is, indeed, Luanne from King of the Hill.

  • Audra

    I actually asked my husband the same questions last night. (Why didn’t he cut the handcuffs or the pipe even, it was all rusty) He pointed out at the beginning of the episode that he was delusional and quite sunburned and pale from exposure. Guess that is what crazy makes you do, not think clearly.

  • j2talk

    Killer show…..if you don’t like it,fine there are PLENTY of other shows on. I’m sure you can find something your kids can watch…why are they up at 10pm on a school night anyway? Letting a six yr old watch it? Talk about BAD PARENTING!!!!!

  • Person of Interest

    Ack! I’ve never been so disturbed by a book as I was by “Geek Love.” Just hearing the title makes me want to freak out and I read it ten years ago. It was still a darn good book though…

  • Mallory

    Yeeahhh, I have to say. I was kind of over The Walking Dead last week, but this week’s episode sealed the deal. I really don’t need another hour-long drama in my life. Just show zombies. I don’t care about character development…ESPECIALLY when it seems that ever character is turning into a stereotype. I don’t care for Lori, and Shane is definitely annoying but I think that hos more to do with me not caring for the actors. I guess I just was excited to see a HORROR show on TV, and I feel really let down.

    • Craig

      Sorry Mallory, but TWD is ABOUT the characters….sure, the Zombies are always going to be there, but if you’re watching just for the Zombies and not interested in the characters…then you may end up disappointed.

  • FrightFest

    I counted 3 zombies in ep.3? Boooooooo! Come on! Keep the daytime soaps on during the day, and bring me death and zombies at night! These characters are way too whiney and worried about emotions when they are on the brink of extinction.

  • Zombies….Where?

    Okay,I gave this a shot. Walking Dead lost me 10 minutes into last weeks episode, but I wanted to give it one more chance last night. I sat rolling my eyes and huffing at the stupid drama that is transpiring in a series that is supposed to be about zombies. There is a certain class of people that dramatics does not apply to, and we just want to see a good time without any love stories thrown in. I am afraid Walking Dead has soap opera written all over it. Do we really need to include an affair, broken friendships and asshole characters on this show to get ratings? This is degrading. The only real acting I have seen on this show are the walkers…the actors are just as whiny and brainless. Thank god for Boardwalk Empire

    • AT

      You should have watched the rest of last week’s episode…

  • John Gaunt

    Clearly nobody here did much carpentry growing up.

    Police handcuffs are made with carbon steel chains. A standard hacksaw would make little to no impression on tghem, and would give out itself long before the cuffs did. Wrists however, are made of tendon, muscle and skin. If you cut at the join, you dont even need to hack through bone. Much easier.

    Oh, except for all the pain.

    • Heather

      oh that makes more sense.

    • Rob

      What about cutting the bolt that he was attached to? That would’ve been better than his hand.

    • GregR

      True, I didn’t have much carpentry experience growing up. Sorry John. You must have had a better upbringing than I did. I agree with Rob. I would have tried cutting everything else before I cut my hand off.

  • John Gaunt

    I agree with Luanne. I recently took my 7 year old girl to a midnight showing of ‘Anal-Rape-Torture Pornathon part 3′ (Directed by M Knight shamamanamlyan) and was horrified to discover there was both sex and violence in it! My child was traumatized, especially since I didnt leave and also forced them to watch the 2:30 am showing. How dare those filmmakers be allowed to expose my children to such filth?

    Tomorrow I plan to take my kids to a public execution at a California prison, and boy, am I ever going to be outraged at the government if they have nightmares…

    • Michelle Malloy

      @john that’s great. LOL

    • The MacCala

      Love you John Gaunt, lol

    • Can’t Tell Sarcasm From A Hole In The Wall

      OMG!!! TOTES McGOATS YOUr Such a bad parent!!! IM GOING TO LIKE TOTALLY FREAK ON THIS!!! YOU MUST BE REALLY BAD AT PARENTING OMG ROFL!!!

    • XCalPro

      I had my 6 yr old watch The Human Centipede… He loved it.. No he wants to attach all our pets together… Go figure..

  • rich drigun

    what moron lets a 6yearold watch a HORROR show about ZOMBIES at 10:00pm.One who should not let people know she is able to reproduce

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