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'The Walking Dead' brings zombies to primetime television

Robert Kirkman, center, and zombies!

Robert Kirkman, center, and zombies!

This Halloween, the tastiest treat you can get won’t be in a plastic pumpkin basket, but stumbling and shambling on your television.

“The Walking Dead,” a six-episode adaptation series by Frank Darabont (“Shawshank Redemption”) of Robert Kirkman’s long-running comic book, is debuting on AMC on Sunday, and it’ll put that silly, sparkly vampire trend to rest. The series follows Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), a police officer who awakens from a coma to discover that the world is rampant with zombies.

amNewYork spoke with Kirkman, 31, about the show.

Why should people stay in on Halloween to watch your show?
Well, I think that people are going to be so sick from eating all of their kids’ candy that it’s probably a good thing that they stay home anyway. Plus it’s a Sunday, so we really should all be doing the responsible thing and stay home and watch this television show and get to bed by 11:30 … because everybody’s going to be talking about “The Walking Dead” on Monday anyway, so you might as well watch the show so that you know what everyone’s talking about.

What is your involvement in the production of the show?
I’m an executive producer so I got to do all of the stuff an executive producer does, which is whatever. And I actually wrote the fourth episode so I got to spend time in the writers’ room, discussing what was going to happen on the show.

What is the difference between writing the comic and the TV show?
It’s not too terribly different just because the characters on the show are very much like the characters on the comic. The writing formats are somewhat different, so there’s a little bit of a learning curve for me to working in a different medium.

Was it weird returning to the beginning of the story?
It was bizarre for me because a lot of … the characters have been dead in the comic book for six years, so I kind of had to go back and get to know those characters a little better, because I kind of moved on after their death. It was kind of like visiting old friends who I had murdered.

What did Frank Darabont bring to the series?
Nothing. It was all me. [laughs] No, Frank is a master at adapting things, so you can see from his previous work that he is able to take those Stephen King stories and expand them in ways that honors the original material. When you watch the television show, it’s very much everything that you’ve liked from the comic book, but at the same time, it’s also very different.

Did you have a walk-on part?
I was asked. It was available to me. It’s a little self-serving to have yourself be a cameo in your television show. I don’t really love looking at myself and I want to be able to watch and enjoy the show, and I think that watching myself walk by on screen when I’m trying to watch the show would be kind of annoying. “Oh great, there I am. That’s what I want to see.”

Will you be dressing up for Halloween?
I am an adult and so no. I’ll go trick or treating with my kids, and my kids have their costumes picked out. I’m a bit of a fuddy-duddy, as I like to say, and I haven’t dressed up for Halloween since I was 14. If I can send my kids out to get candy for me, I’m not going to go out.

On TV: “The Walking Dead” airs on AMC at 10 p.m. on Sunday.

Robert Kirkman’s favorite zombie movies:
• George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” (1968)
• George A. Romero’s “Day of the Dead” (1985)
• George A. Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” (1978)
• Lucio Fulci’s “Zombie” (1979)
• “Return of the Living Dead” (1985)
• “Shaun of the Dead” (2004)
• “Zombieland” (2009)


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