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Exclusive: iZOMBIE Creator Chris Roberson on Rob Thomas’ Undead TV Adaptation

Chris Roberson has worn many hats in his career – from MonkeyBrain publisher to science-fiction novelist to comic-book writer. But he’s perhaps best known as the co-creator (with artist Michael Allred) of DC/Vertigo’s iZombie, the CW adaptation of which (starring Once Upon a Time‘s Rose McIver) will soon hit TV courtesy of Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas. I caught up with Roberson at the recent Phoenix Comicon, where the busy scribe spoke with me with about his recent visit to the show’s Vancouver set. Check out our chat below.

Nerdist: How does Rob Thomas’ adaptation of iZombie compare to your comic book?

Chris Roberson: It’s a completely different take on the idea. What Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero have done is take the basic idea of a girl who has to eat brains in order to pass as human – and inherits the memories of the dead – and then built a different scenario around it. What’s really interesting is that even though it doesn’t use our characters, they’ve studied the comics closely. Everybody in the cast and crew has read the comics. And they’ve tried really hard to capture the tone of the comics, even up to including a voice-over narration that the protagonist uses; which sounds a lot like the captions in our book. There’s certain turns of phrases they use, and the personalities are similar. The characters occupy similar niches in terms of how they relate to each other, what their personalities are like.

N: Have they taken any cues from Mike Allred’s art?

CR: Yeah, actually. In the hair and makeup and wardrobe they’ve got the trades to go through. The actress who plays Liv, the main character, when they were first figuring out her makeup and her hair, they had Mike’s art there to figure out what she looks like.

N: Rob Thomas is known for the quirky, offbeat nature of his work. Have you found his sensibility simpatico with your own?

CR: Yeah, I think so. As I said, tonally it’s very similar. The way that he deals with macabre stuff, with a very light touch, is very much in line with what we did. It’s funny – in my head I approached it like it was a TV show to begin with. The first six issues, for example, only take place within three locations. Because in my head I didn’t want it to be too over budget. [Laughs.] But I missed Veronica Mars because my daughter was born right before it started and I didn’t even watch television for a long time. But once I started catching up with it, I was like, “Yeah, this feels familiar.”

N: What else are you working on now?

CR: My evenings and weekends are spent with ComiXology but my day job is still writing comics. I’m writing a four-issue Aliens miniseries for Dark Horse [Aliens: Fire and Stone], with art by Patric Reynolds. It starts in September and it ties into a family of Ridley Scott-verse books that are being done by different creators. And there’s Edison Rex. It’s a book that Dennis Culver and I do that’s published digitally through Monkey Brain by ComiXology and in print in trade collections by IDW. It’s the story of the world’s greatest villain defeating the world’s greatest hero and then having to step up and take his place protecting the world. Because he feels there’s nobody left who’s qualified to do it. And hilarity ensues… It comes out on a roughly monthly basis and we’re up to issue 16.

N: Thanks for your time, Chris.

CR: You’re very welcome!

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