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NYCC Interview: Robert Kirkman and Simon Racioppa Talk ‘Invincible’ Season 2

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It’s been about two years since the finale of Invincible season 1 left us and Mark Grayson reeling. My Father, The Hero, showed us the truth about Omni-Man, and it was dark and filled with Viltrumite ruthlessness. The finale also left us with many questions and story potential, especially with the big reveal about the GDA and Allen the Alien’s (Seth Rogen) return.  In anticipation of Invincible season 2, the visceral and must-watch show had a big panel and announcement at New York City Comic Con. It’s fitting, as it was also at NYCC in October 2020, that we got our first look at season 1. Before this year’s panel, I had the opportunity to chat with Invincible’s co-creator Robert Kirkman and showrunner and EP Simon Racioppa in a roundtable interview about everything in season 2.

During the roundtable interview, Kirkman and Racioppa discussed the characters they were most excited to write for this season, how the story has resonated with fans beyond the comic book world, Mark Grayson’s journey in the upcoming season, and some of the broader themes to expect. Kirkman and Racioppa talked about some of the voice actors to expect this season too, including Seth Rogen, Jeffrey Donovan, Sterling K. Brown, and Michael Dorn. They even reflected on their regrets (or lack thereof) when it comes to their storytelling.

The interview with Robert Kirkman and Simon Racioppa about Invincible season 2

[Editor’s note: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity. There are spoilers ahead for Invincible season 1 and Invincible season 2 ahead.]

Interviewer: “What were some of the challenges going into season two?”

Robert Kirkman: “Oh, I mean, I guess maintaining like the momentum of what we did with season one. Rebuilding the show, post-pandemic, you know, which led to the big delay. I think, you know, honestly, that was a big hurdle.”

Simon Racioppa: “I mean, checking out the technical side of things. So like, yeah, we’re still in the pandemic. It was back then, another big challenge. I mean, just the show is enormous. The show is ginormous, the amount of places we go, the amount of new characters you meet in season two. Everything needs to be thought up and designed and drawn. So we have an incredible production team. They work their butts off. But the scope is still so big, that even with the best team in the world, it’s tricky. Yeah, but they do it.”

Robert Kirkman: “And you know, the goal is that it’s an escalating show that when you look back on season one, you go… ‘oh, my gosh, I can’t believe they started here and expanded to this point.’ So things should get a little bit bigger and a little bit more intense as each season goes. And so maintaining that momentum is a tough balancing act.”

Simon Racioppa: “And you also want to make the show look better. Even every season. You want to play on that. So there’s always that. So yeah, lots of challenges.”

Interviewer: “Thank you so much for being here. I’m just curious with all of the critical acclaim and fanfare, and the popularity of this, is anything surprising with this?”

Robert Kirkman: “Oh, I mean, the memes? And prevalence of them all, is, you know, super cool. But also, you know, somewhat alien to this aged individual. But yeah, it’s great. I mean, I don’t know, I try not to take anything for granted. I didn’t know how people would respond to this. This is an hour-long animated drama, that’s never really been done before. You know, like, some of the, like, violent elements that we incorporate are pretty intense, and always there to drive story. And so you know, we didn’t know like how the first season would be, you know, received. And it’s exceeded all of our expectations. So it’s, it’s been, it’s been a pretty crazy process. And, you know, moving into season two, we just couldn’t be more excited to be back and be doing this all over again. So it’s been pretty cool.”

Simon Racioppa: “I just assume this happens when you work with Kirkman on anything? Yeah, not a surprise.”

Invincible Season 2 Teaser poster
Invincible season 2 teaser poster, released during SDCC. (Prime Video)

On Crossovers and Property Rights

Interviewer: “As you previously explained, for the first season, the change from Science Dog to Seance Dog was because it’s a whole separate thing, different property rights. I’m curious. As fans are aware who read the comics, it did a lot of crossovers. In that shared universe, you had Astounding Walkman, Tech Jacket… I’m curious if those properties are also off the table. Are they fair game and potentially could appear in the show?”

Robert Kirkman: “Yeah I mean, those are definitely separate properties the same way that like Spider-Man and X-Men were separate properties. You know, you can play fast and loose in comics, especially if it’s, you know, like, one entity. Like me and my partners, all owned those characters. And so, it’s very easy to do that stuff. It’s a little bit more difficult when you have like a big corporation and a lot of big companies involved. And so that is something that’s a challenge for the show, like as we move deeper and deeper into the run because there is a lot of that kind of stuff. But that’s something that we’re actively like, you know, trying to figure out. I guess the only thing I can say is, you know, we’ll just have to see.”

On the voice casting season 2 of Invincible

Interviewer: “What about casting for season 2? Such a range of performers from the comedy world, superhero world, The Walking Dead world.”

Robert Kirkman: “Yeah, I mean, I think that we always try to think of the best actor for the role, and I love that we have like a wide range of- I mean, not only do we have like, you know, movie stars like Seth Rogen, but we have great actors like Grey DeLisle. You know, like she’s an excellent voice actor who’s done a ton of different things. And it’s great having you know, Kevin Michael Richardson and you know, Sterling K. Brown in scenes together. You know, that’s, that’s a lot of fun. And you got absolute lunatics like Jason Mantzoukas and Ben Schwartz that just will not do our dialogue, no matter how hard we try to get them to do dialogue exactly the way that we’ve written it. And it’s just a great mix. Like it keeps the voice sessions super interesting.”

Simon Racioppa: “I think it’s that diversity that actually brings something really great to the show. We do try to find, and Linda Lamontagne is our casting director, and she just brings us a variety of names. We always ask for like a wild card, we’d like who’s the craziest person to think of for this role. But she gives us a couple names of people you might not consider. And you’re like, actually, you know, we talked about that. So I think we’re very lucky that again, we have such a broad cast in so many other ways. And they really just all bring something different. Something special to the show, that you can’t get anywhere else.”

On the theme of Invincible season 2

Interviewer: “What you would say was the major theme of the second season?”

Simon Racioppa: “Well, I mean, season one is about Mark wanting to become his father. As you know, you’re growing up, you want to be your parents. In this case, you want to be your dad. You know, his dad’s a great superhero. Season two is Mark being terrified that maybe that can happen. So that’s sort of a big thing. We explore that fear of now. Like ‘I wanted to be my dad. But now I don’t want to be my dad. But maybe that’s not up to me anymore. Maybe that might happen anyway.”

Robert Kirkman: “The burden of legacy, you know, like he had all these expectations on him because Omni-Man was the greatest superhero that ever lived. And he was worried he wasn’t going to be able to live up to that in season one. Then in season two, it’s, you know, a completely different burden that has emerged where now it’s like, oh, God, are you as bad as this guy? He’s constantly having to prove himself time and time again, that you know, he isn’t Omni-Man. And he doesn’t have that potential in him. And we’ll see at times, he’s very worried that he may be wrong, when he says he doesn’t.”

On the villains of Invincible season 2

Ayla Ruby: “Can you talk a little bit about the villains of Invincible season two? I know, there’s been some talk about Angstrom Levy and, you know, alternate universes…”

Robert Kirkman: “I think that, as far as like the multiverse thing goes, because Angstrom Levy is a very multiverse-based villain… You know, we’re doing multiverse stuff extremely differently than what everyone else is doing. A lot of the other multiverse stories are about, like bringing in sandboxes of days old. And, you know, having actors that you may be familiar with, like coming back to reprise roles that you are dying to see them play again. We’re not doing any of that. There aren’t previous iterations of Invincible that we can, you know, come in and have show up.”

Robert Kirkman: “Yeah, unfortunately, try as I might, Michael Keaton-Invincible… But we’re doing it as more of a character study. We’re having Angstrom Levy, the Invincible villain at a time when he is worried about who he might be at his core. Angstrom Levy is capable of showing him glimpses of other versions of himself that may reflect the horrors that he is worried that is inside of him. And so it’s a much more character-based, dramatic way of exploring the multiverse.”

Simon Racioppa: “That touches on the themes that we were just talking about, the themes of the season, right? Hopefully, it feels very integrated into the show, rather than kind of like, hey, everybody’s doing multiverses now.”

On Kirkman and Racioppa’s favorite characters to write for

Interviewer:  “Do you have a favorite character to write for?”

Robert Kirkman: “Yeah. Gosh, should we just reveal… I try not to… I love Battle Beast.”

Simon Racioppa: “I really liked Machine Head. I like writing for Machine Head. Because, so over the top, you can just really play with him in a way. Some of the other characters are a little more grounded. He’s just ridiculous. So it’s fun to just write ridiculous things and have Jeffrey Donovan, shout them out. Like that’s one of the best days.”

Robert Kirkman: “Yeah. And writing dialogue for Michael Dorn is awesome. And, yeah, but I mean, you know, we have fondness for every character. It’s hard to play favorites.”

On fan reaction to storylines

Interviewer: “Any characters or storylines or things that keep you up at night? Where you’re just like, I don’t know if I should do this. I don’t know how this will be received?”

Robert Kirkman: “I never feel regret. Or I try not to second guess myself too much at all. So no, I mean, I guess that’s where the comic comes in. The comic operates as a really great test audience. So we know how people reacted to the storylines that we’re gonna be doing, in comic book form. We know that, you know, the level of popularity. And we also know how different aspects of those stories affected the fan base because I was very active with the fan base along the entire run of the comic book series, doing letters, columns, going to conventions, interacting with fans.”

On pushing boundaries

Robert Kirkman: “And so I know, ‘Oh, that really upset people.’ And it’s good when that was the idea. Like, you know, some stories are supposed to upset people, sometimes we are pushing boundaries and doing like, crazy things. And so, you know, I don’t really lay awake at night going, ‘Oh, gosh, like, Should we do that story again?’ I’m more excited about like, ‘Oh, my gosh, we can, we can push this story further, we can build to this story in a different way that will make it deeper and more exciting!’ And so if anything, the thing that makes me lose sleep is being excited about the next thing we’re gonna get to.”

Simon Racioppa: “Yeah, for me, it’s just I just hope we’re doing it justice. You know, we have these huge emotional scenes. And I just want to, you know, I’m hoping like, have we gone far enough? Have we really gotten to the core of this the truth of the scene? So it’s more just about like, hope it’s good. I really hope it’s good. We’re doing our best. Yeah, I hope everyone enjoys it. And it communicates what we’re trying to say.”

On reaching an audience beyond comic book fans

Interviewer: “You have a much larger audience on this show than just the comic book fans, that you’re tapping into, because it’s a very humanistic story. Do you tend to have a completely different audience outside of the niche?”

Robert Kirkman: “Yeah, I mean, that’s amazing to hear. I mean, anytime any story that you do, could speak to people, like, that’s really exciting. And I’m really fond of the story, I had a lot of fun telling it in comic book form, and to know that it’s reaching a wider audience and, you know, affecting people is really awesome.”

On whether or not Kirkman would return to the Invincible comics

Interviewer: “Are there any threads that you’re going to get to expand or explore in the show that you didn’t get to explore as much in the comics, that might make you want to come back to doing comic form?”

Robert Kirkman: “Oh, I mean, no, possibly. And I think that the timing of the show was really cool in that I stopped writing the comic, and then after like, a month or so break, I immediately started writing on the show. So, I didn’t have a period, where I missed the characters, like I did, kind of with Walking Dead. And so you know, there hasn’t been any kind of like, ‘Oh, I’m not really getting to spend time with Rex Splode or any of these people,’ because I’m interacting with these characters a lot.”

Robert Kirkman: “But I don’t know. I mean, there’s certainly things that we’re doing in the show that aren’t from the comics. And so we’re doing new material in that way. And as the show progresses, I’m hoping to do that more and more. There are some storylines from the comics that I wanted to do that I never got around to, that I think it’d be really fun to kind of surprise comic book fans and throw them in the show. You know, things that we never did in the comics like that. That seems like an exciting thing to do. But you know, I don’t know, this may lead to me doing some more Invincible comics, we’ll just have to see.”

Interviewer: “Kirkman announces new Invincible comics!”


Robert Kirkman: “I hedge that answer.”

On  the casting directors Linda Lamontagne and Meredith Layne

Interviewer: “So you mentioned earlier, the casting director Linda Lamontagne. Also, this season Meredith Layne has come on board. She started out with Nickelodeon casting, legendary Andrea Romano, and she’s really come to her own as a voice director. You worked with her on The Boys. I’m curious about bringing her on the show, and what she brings to the table.”

Robert Kirkman: “Yeah, I mean, Meredith [Layne] has been absolutely excellent. There have been times where we’ve been in recording booths, and she’ll go, ‘okay, hey, wait a minute, it says this in the script- Should they be doing it this way or this way?’ And we’re like, ‘Oh, are we gonna think about that? Oh, you’re right, like, Oh my gosh.’ So she’s just a tremendous help.

Robert Kirkman: “But also, like, the logistics of doing voice recording. You know, you oftentimes don’t have people in the same room. So someone is doing one side of the acting, and then months later, someone else will do the other side of the acting. And she’s not only able to lock in the one person’s performance, but she’s the person that they’re playing off of when they’re doing their lines. So, you know, Jason Mantzoukas and Walton Goggins will be in a scene together, but Meredith does the scene with Walton Goggins and then she later does the scene with Jason Mantzoukas and she’s able to steer them with her performance to make those performances mesh and that’s an art in and of itself. And it’s something that we lean on her on the show in a tremendous way.”

Simon Racioppa: “Yeah, we’re lucky to have her she’s great.”

Where and how to watch Invincible

People of Earth, season 2 of Invincible premieres on Prime Video on November 3, 2023. If you can’t wait for Steven Yeun’s return as the voice of Mark Grayson aka Invincible, you can rewatch the bloody, brutal, and emotionally charged season one now on Prime Video or check out the bonus Atom Eve story released this past year. And watch out for our review of the opening episodes of Invincible season 2 coming soon!

Review: Invincible Special Atom Eve a Powerful Return

Atom Eve Review

For all our past NYCC coverage, including more interviews coming this week, check out the NYCC tag

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Ayla Ruby

I am a writer and interviewer based somewhere in the Alpha Quadrant. I love all things nerdy - but Star Trek and Spiderman have special places in my heart. Find me at @TulinWrites on Twitter. And visit my other website for more reviews and interviews:

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