By Taylor Cochran

Feeling like the “weird kid” in a small town is a familiar feeling to many, including comic illustrator, Tony Moore. Unlike most, Tony returned home as an inspiration and icon.

Tony Moore recalls a fourth grade teacher in the small town of Cynthiana, Ky. who sensed a potential kinship between Moore and a fellow classmate and seated them next to each other. That classmate was Robert Kirkman. 

Kirkman provided a partner in Moore’s eccentric interests, introduced him to his first comic book store, and eventually collaborated with him on a comic book concept called The Walking Dead. The duo had already dabbled in the world of comic publishing with their first self-published release  Battle Pope in 2000 following Moore’s 6 year long stint at the University of Louisville’s Hite Art Institute. Even with his art school and publishing experience, Moore was still fairly green when The Walking Dead started to form. To find inspiration for the characters and scenery, Moore turned to the source he knew best: Cynthiana. 

Even though The Walking Dead takes place primarily in Georgia, the opening scenes, iconic cover of the first issue and the subsequent anniversary and special edition covers are fully set in Cynthiana.

The Walking Dead would become a phenomenon. In the years following the release of the initial books, Moore branched out and inked covers for titles like Batman, Deadpool, and even Star Wars.

In 2016, Cynthiana announced Walking Dead Day to celebrate the international acclaim garnered by the brainchild of two of its native sons. Among the festivities of the event itself, the city unveiled a new road sign honoring Kirkman and Moore along with a mural by Portugese painter Odeith.

For Tony Moore, the recognition was equal parts surreal and satisfying:

“Just over 15 years ago, a couple of hungry kids grinding away at the dream of making comics sat down in the spare bedroom of a shitty little cracker box house and started percolating their next project. I’ve always likened it to standing in the ocean, holding our surfboards, with no clue that the monster wave of a lifetime was rolling right up behind us. The ride has been intense and wild, with thrilling highs and heartbreaking lows. It shattered some relationships and forged others ironclad. Lessons have been learned, and amazing doors of opportunity have been opened. I can’t believe it’s been 15 whirlwind years already. Thank you all for your support, and making this little project into a pop culture fixture unlike anything we could have ever dreamed. Happy #WalkingDeadDay, gang.”

Check out the video below for Tony’s take today along with an exclusive story about his run in with the Cynthiana police in the early days of planning for The Walking Dead. 

If you missed him live at our program on October 23, stay tuned for the program airdate and streaming release on KET.

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