The band of survivors in the zombie comic book “The Walking Dead” have traveled from Atlanta into the heart of Washington, D.C.; and since then, the group settled in the ravaged streets of Alexandria. We talked with the man who draws the comic, English artist Charlie Adlard, about drawing Virginia while living abroad, the balance between imagination and research, and how a broken landscape can be a lifesaver for an artist. — Kris King
KK: Do you look at any pictures of the area or do you imagine what it might look like?
CA: “It is a combination of imagination and hard, cold research. It’s almost like 50/50, really.”
KK: How much thought do you give to maintaining geography in your work?
CA: “Most of the places we do … have generally been (hesitates) I won’t say imaginary, but most of them are sort of … created out of our own feverish imagination rather than locked down on one specific place.”
KK: When you do your research on an area, what do you look at mostly?
CA: “It depends on what the area kind of needs. It’s obviously specific to the story … I can’t afford to do an overview type of research just to get me the feel of the place because there just isn’t the time.”
KK: How much about the locations are handed down from [writer Robert Kirkman]?
CA: “Sometimes it’s been very specific; all of the Washington, D.C. stuff was incredibly specific … I didn’t want to do an imaginary D.C. It’s such an iconic city, and you can’t fudge that.”
KK: How do you go about capturing Alexandria; I don’t want to say you guessed, but …
CA: (Pause) “I guessed! (laugh) A lot of it is kind of guess-work. A lot of it … comes from nearly 40 years of reading comic books and sort of just being kind of immersed in American culture in a certain way that I know roughly what it all looks like.”