Robert Kirkman has already conquered the zombie genre with his comic book-turned-television hit The Walking Dead, and now he is ready to turn his attention to demonic possession with a new comic titled Outcast. Written by Kirkman and illustrated by Paul Azaceta, issue #1 of Outcast will be released June 25, and you can get an exclusive sneak peek at the first two pages right here. Not only that, but we spoke to Kirkman to get the inside scoop on his latest project (which already has a TV adaptation deal in place with Fox International and Cinemax). Read on for more, and then check out the first two pages, which end on a truly disturbing note.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Okay, Outcast. Demons. Possession. What else can you tell us?
ROBERT KIRKMAN: Outcast is the story of Kyle Barnes, who is an average guy who has been dealing with the phenomenon of demonic possession his entire life. He’s had a lot of people over the years, very close to him, suffering from this affliction. He’s at a point in his life where he doesn’t want to take it anymore and decides he’s going to set out to find answers, and to figure what’s going on around him, and why this constantly seems to be happening to people he’s close to. Through that journey, what he discovers is something larger and more far reaching than he could have ever imagined, and it might just be that he’s the key to stopping whatever it is that’s going on.
EW: Can we expect to see exorcisms and things of that nature?
KIRKMAN: Oh yeah. It’s definitely my take on the exorcism genre—if that is a genre. Just trying to find some new angles to explore, and also to pay tribute all the great things that have been done in that genre just like [how] The Walking Dead tries to find new angles to the whole zombie thing, but is also paying homage to the works of Romero and other fantastic things. I’m trying to carve out another corner of the horror universe.
EW: Any story about demons or possession usually involves religion and God on the other side. How big a role will religion play in this comic?
KIRKMAN: It certainly has a presence, but unlike most exorcism stories, it’s not the driving force or a main component. This doesn’t deal with Catholicism in any way, which I think is somewhat unique. It takes in place in West Virginia, so it’s much more of a small-town Baptist kind of take on religion when we do deal with it. To a certain extent, this is kind of a non-religious exploration of what exorcism is, which is definitely going to have moments where we deal with religion, but this isn’t going to be the book’s core focus.
EW: So the concept behind The Walking Dead was to create a zombie story that doesn’t end. At least not for a long, long time. Is that the same idea here?
KIRKMAN: It is kind of the same, but I think that the difference there is that most exorcism stories don’t treat it like a solvable phenomenon or something that can actually be overcome or that it’s a conflict that can be won. What makes Outcast an epic story and a very long form story like The Walking Dead is that it’s a story that will strive to solve this problem, which is something no one has ever really done.
EW: Are the characters here more, less or about as safe as the ones on The Walking Dead?
KIRKMAN: [laughs] I would say about as safe, which is not safe.
EW: Ultimately, like anything — as you know from The Walking Dead — it’s really about the characters and the complicated relationships that have formed as a result of something, and I know you establish some key relationships right off the bat in Outcast.
KIRKMAN: When you study the horror genre, I think that focusing on the people — that’s what really drives the story. You’re not going to be scared if you’re not scared for that person, and you have to be very invested in your characters, so that’s why I always try to do my best to make things as well rounded as possible. I think coming out of that first issue you get a sense of who Kyle Barnes is, and hopefully you’ll care about him when he dies, if that happens at any point.
EW: What’s the status of the TV version, which you’re also working on for Cinemax?
KIRKMAN: It’s moving along really well. We’re working with Fox International on developing that for Cinemax, and it’s pretty exciting because Fox International works on The Walking Dead show and handles that internationally, and this is the first time that they have ever decided to act as a studio for a show. So the international component of Outcast, which I think is a big thing that led to The Walking Dead’s success as a show, is already built into the process. It’s a pretty exciting prospect to have Fox International involved at that early of a stage. Everything is going really well with Cinemax, and I think we could be hearing about the pilot being picked up very shortly. So I’m very excited.
Now check out the first two pages of ‘Outcast’ below. And for more ‘Walking Dead’ news, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.