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Robert Kirkman breaks down how his ‘Outcast’ comic went from panel to screen

Robert Kirkman, creator and executive producer of “Outcast,” discusses translating a scene in his new supernatural series from comic book to screen.

“Outcast” isn’t the TV series Robert Kirkman had translated from comic to screen. But after after 13 years of penning “Walking Dead” comics and six seasons of the hit television series, the executive producer has learned a thing or two about the how to translate one art form into the other.

So we picked one scene and asked Kirkman to take us behind the scenes and explain how “Outcast” took the panels from his comic and adapted them into the big exorcism climax in the Cinemax series.

In the show, actor Patrick Fugit (“Saved,” “Gone Girl”) is main character Kyle Barnes, local pariah and general shut-in. Barnes is forced into the role of small-town exorcist after the problems of his past return to haunt his hometown.

And by the end of the pilot, Barnes has a showdown with possessed tot Joshua (played by Gabriel Bateman). Things get heated, Joshua douses the room in the traditional “possessed” vomit, smacks around Fugit and tries to suck out what we assume is some sort of internal life force from the hero. But in the end, goodness prevails after a fight, and the demons are extricated from Joshua both figuratively and literally.

Crew members would need a few things to set up the shot, including a bedroom build upside down and a life-like sculpture of actor Bateman, which they would proceed to nail to the ceiling (which was actually the floor in the upside-down room). From there they would insert a hose into the dummy and douse the place with the demonic goo.

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That ominous black muck is the physical representation of evil.

"[Comic book artist] Paul Azaceta brilliantly illustrates this entity when it comes out of Joshua in the comic book series,” Kirkman explains from the offices of his production company, Skybound. “I told him it as this swirling mass of goo that, in a sense, forms shapes as it moves. So from a still image, you would kind of see a claw, or see teeth, or see bone protruding from this goo. But if you could freeze it and look at it from another angle, you would see that it’s just a trick of the mind.”

Despite the hose, and comic book illustrations, the scene would still prove to be a challenge.

“It was a somewhat nerve-wracking scene just because we had some practical effects on set, but we didn’t know how much of that they were going to use and exactly how they were going to look,” Kirkman says. “We shot the scene with Gabriel Bateman [the possessed boy] and Patrick Fugit, and we had to trust the talented effect team to make it all work and make it all cool.”

And the end result: liquid evil.


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