For some people, creating a comic-turned-franchise as successful as THE WALKING DEAD would be incentive to stop working. Not true with Robert Kirkman. Amid THE WALKING DEAD’s success, Kirkman continues to create new and exciting series such as OUTCAST and now, OBLIVION SONG.

With a first-issue release date of March 7, 2018, OBLIVION SONG takes place a decade after 300,000 citizens of Philadelphia are suddenly lost in Oblivion. The story follows Nathan Cole as he makes daily trips trying to recover those who are lost. Image Comics imprint Skybound Entertainment recently organized a small press event to unveil the new series. OBLIVION SONG co-creator and writer Kirkman — along with co-creator and artist Lorenzo De Felici, colorist Annalisa Leoni, editor Sean Mackiewicz, and Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson — gave a sneak peek at the upcoming comic.

Oblivion Song
Seated: OBLIVION SONG colorist Annalisa Leoni (left), co-creator and artist Lorenzo De Felici, and co-creator and writer Robert Kirkman (right). Photo taken by ComicsVerse’s Eric Gaynor.

Q: Were there any post-apocalyptic tropes that you wanted to avoid in OBLIVION SONG?

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Kirkman: I like to say this is apocalypse-adjacent. It’s very much not an apocalypse story. The majority of Philadelphia is still intact. Kind of the theme that we’re dealing with here is the fact that no matter how horrific something is that happens to us as a people, it doesn’t take too many years for us to just kind of go back to normal and forget about it. And so, we are dealing with the fact that a large chunk of Philadelphia just completely disappeared. When the story starts taking place, our main character is seemingly almost the only one that is still very invested in it. He’s still trying to figure out what happened, still trying to rescue people. Everyone else has kind of gone back to status quo, and like, “Can’t we just forget that crater that’s in the middle of our town and how horrible that is?”

And so as far as apocalyptic tropes, there’s definitely a lot of that inside the dimension of Oblivion, as we’re eventually going to meet more people that are still alive over there and have been living there for a while. I tried to avoid some of the things that I did in THE WALKING DEAD. I wouldn’t expect to see any zombies over there. We’re gonna avoid that. I wanted to do a story where you get all the cool story dynamics and the kind of narrative that you can get from an apocalypse story because that is a fun treasure trove of ideas to play with. But I want them to be able to just go back to a safe place, raise children and have families and be able to kind of bounce back and forth between the two. I thought that’d be a good contrast story-wise.

Q: Why did you choose Philadelphia as the setting?

Kirkman: I always try to avoid New York and Los Angeles; they seem to be the setting of so many things. But I did want this to be in a metropolitan area and, doing a little bit of research on Philadelphia, it being one of the oldest cities. It was the capital of the country for a while; it’s got the cool Liberty Bell, lot of cool history there. There are a lot of interesting buildings and things like that.

 Q: What was the thought process behind the actual ecosystem of OBLIVION SONG?

Oblivion Song
Image Courtesy of Image Comics / Skybound Entertainment

Kirkman: What I do is, [I say], “So there’s a bunch of alien dogs, and there’s like an alien cheetah. But don’t make them look like dogs or cheetahs. Come up with some kind of alien equivalent that makes sense.” And then this guy [De Felici] comes up with all kinds of amazing things that I would’ve never thought of as to how that works and everything.

De Felici: My birth parents are biologists, so I grew up really attached to biological coherence in building my worlds, because I stumbled upon a lot of …

Kirkman: Try not to make me look too bad.

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De Felici: I’ve had to design creatures and alien creatures many times in my career. I don’t know why exactly, but this time particularly I was really careful to build something that looked alien but coherent itself. And I didn’t want to do a patchwork of creatures and monsters not at all connected to the environment. So, for example, since there are a lot of vines there, most of the creatures have six legs to attach to the vines.

With the mold that’s covering everything, I didn’t want to do much of a fungi thing because I was afraid it would look too much like THE LAST OF US. So I tried to do something that would cover and corrode everything slowly, with some fungus quality but not much. Robert talked about fungus in the first draft, in the first script, so I tried to develop this not touching anything that had already been done. Starting from that I tried to create everything else, from the creatures and such.

Oblivion Song
OBLIVION SONG co-creator and artist Lorenzo De Felici and colorist Annalisa Leoni. Photo taken by ComicsVerse’s Eric Gaynor.

Leoni: So the challenge was to find the correct color for this fungus. We tried first by variating colors like fuchsia, and then when we tried to color more earthly.

De Felici: Yeah, because we realized that if we made this mold, this fungus, very bright or very colorful it would take too much attention.

Q: Would it be safe to assume that things won’t nicely tie up and wrap up by the sixth issue?

Kirkman: This is a fairly long regular series that’s planned here. We do have a planned ending, but one of the things that excites me is that you start with this – not necessarily a small story, but it is a very personal story about Nathan Cole. He’s going to this other dimension trying to rescue these people, and you don’t really know anything about Oblivion. As we get deeper and deeper into the story, we’re going to find so much more out about that dimension and about a lot of things that are happening on Earth.

The story is just going to kind of snowball into this massive epic by the time we get to our twenty-fifth issue or whatever. So, it is kind of a cascading effect where you’re not going to really know where exactly the story is going. So hopefully it’ll be pretty impressive and cool, kind of like, “Oh my god, I had no idea they were going in this direction” kind of thing.

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I can’t say enough how excited I am for this series. I’ve been a WALKING DEAD fan for years, and OUTCAST is one of my favorite series on the shelves today. Kirkman’s past successes set the bar high, but based on what I’ve seen of OBLIVION SONG so far, it looks like Kirkman has another hit on his hands. Together with De Felici and Leoni, Kirkman creates a surreal environment with unforgettable characters. This comic will get you thinking! Time to count down the months for the March 7 release date!

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