Image held a press call today to reveal this new series. Titled “Outcast”, the series creative team of Kirkman with artist Paul Azaceta for a very different sort of horror story. Kirkman was in attendance, and he talked about what readers can expect from this exorcism-themed comic and the potential TV adaptation from Fox International.
He started off by reassuring fans that his commitment to his various comic book projects. “I’m excited to be announcing a new comic. I’ve been working in television a lot, but I still love the comics, and it’s my main focus. I’m very excited to be getting back into it and doing something new.” He continued, “This is the first time since The Walking Dead that I’ve done a very real-world, dramatic take on a horror concept.”
Kirkman explains it as “This is a book about exorcism. It focuses on a guy named Kyle Barnes, who has been plagued by demonic possession his entire life. He’s hit a point in his life where he’s decided to dive deeper – to figure out what it is that is occurring to him and people around him. He’s going to look for answers and try to figure out what it is that he’s experiencing. Along the way, he’s going to discover that there’s a bigger picture here that could possibly threaten the entire world, and he’s the key to stopping it. It’s a big, epic story involving exorcism and demonic possession, and we’re trying to shine a new light on that genre of horror fiction. “
“I feel like it’s a genre, much like zombie fiction, that is open to very dramatic, very realistic interpretation. Something that The Walking Dead does very well is that it takes zombie fiction storytelling tropes and treats them very seriously and uses them them to do very deep character study. That’s something I think the exorcism genre is very open to.”
When asked about Outcast’s cast and focus, Kirkman said, “There definitely will be an ensemble cast around Kyle Barnes. We’ll get more into that as we continue to promote the series leading up to the launch [currently billed as “early 2014′].” He continued, “This will be a big story. It’s going to be very epic, and there will be a lot of characters introduced along the way. We’re probably going to lose some of them along the way. I don’t know that it’s necessarily going to be quite as much as a bloodbath as The Walking Dead turned out to be, but there will be an element of ‘no one is safe.’ When you’re doing an independent comic and you have free reign and you an do what you want, it’s fun to kind of push those boundaries and keep people guessing.”
Fox also announced that Outcast is in development as a TV series. In fact, a series announced only as “Untitled Exorcism Project” this past spring was actually Outcast. Kirkman said, “Because of my relationship with Fox International, who handles all of the international distribution of the Walking Dead TV show, they got an early lookout at Outcast in its very early stages. We’ve been developing it as a television show with them behind the scenes as I continue to put the comic together.” Kirkman revealed that he’s scripting the pilot, but also that the comic was and still is his primary focus. “This was only ever intended to be a new comic book series. I’m very fortunate to be in a position where people are very interested in what I’m doing, often times before it comes out. So that’s very exciting, and I certainly like that side of the business. I love working in television, but it is something that, like The Walking Dead, I’m working on the comic book series and the television show at the same time. It’s a fun balance to strike, but the two projects are kept very separately in my head.”
Azaceta’s artwork was addressed as well by Kirkman in relation to what he brings to this new series. “His art is so moody and so atmospheric – the way he shades things and drops in heavy blacks. His general rendering style fits this concept perfectly. One of the things I was really excited about with Paul is that he hasn’t really stuck around on any project. When I was talking with him about this book, he said, ‘You know, I’m actually kind of thinking about trying to do something a little bit more long-term,’ as opposed to doing a few issues of Conan here and a few issues of Spider-Man there… This is the first time he’s really going to be investing in something for the long haul. It’s always daunting for an artist to look at that long road ahead, but I think it’s something he’s very invested in. We’ve had a lot of good discussion thus far, and the stuff he’s turning in is absolutely spectacular.”