Invincible executive producer and co-showrunner Simon Racioppa spoke with The Direct about how the comics serve as "a roadmap" for the show, explaining that the source material is both similar and different from the adaptation in many ways.
The animated series based on Robert Kirkman's original comics is returning to Amazon Prime Video for its second season on Friday, November 3. After a thrilling first season, fans are looking forward to the bold story planned for Season 2.
Invincible is uncommon in that essentially its entire plot is known already by fans, given how faithful of an adaptation it has been.
However, the differences between the comics and the show are distinct enough to constantly warrant a questioning of everything fans know — especially in a story with the plot twists and intrigue of Invincible.
Invincible Showrunner Talks Comics vs Show Differences
In an interview with The Direct, Invincible executive producer and co-showrunner Simon Racioppa talked about how the show differs from and remains faithful to its source material.
Racioppa couldn't pinpoint an exact comics moment that fans should not expect to see in Season 2, saying he "hope[s] our fans get to see everything they're looking forward to in the new season."
He added that while they "didn't leave anything out," there are several new moments fans should expect to see, such as an increased focus on Sandra Oh's Debbie Grayson:
"I mean, I hope our fans get to see everything they're looking forward to in the new season. We didn't leave anything out. I think it's more about... there's places where we expand the story. One of the things we do, we spend a lot more time with Debbie in Season 2 than the comic books do just because we focus a bit more on her in the show than the books do. So that's something that's not in the books that you're going to see in the in the season — more time with her."
Racioppa then discussed how there is an effort made "to modernize things" from the comics in the show as well as take on opportunities to "improve things a little bit, get a little deeper."
Ultimately, according to Racioppa, that all adds to the story as they work toward finding "the best way to take this from the books and put it into a different medium:"
"There's other stories that we adapt slightly differently than they are in the books. So we modernize things, we bring them forward again. Robert [Kirkman] is always happy when we have ideas to just improve things a little bit, get a little deeper, go a bit further into the emotions of the storyline. But I don't think there's anything that we left out on purpose. It was more about finding what's the best way to adapt this. What's the best way to take this from the books and put it into- into a different medium — into television?"
Earlier in the discussion, Racioppa described the books as the show's "roadmap," adding that even back during the writing of the show's first season, he and Kirkman "already had ideas for what season two could be:"
"We try to follow the books pretty closely. Obviously, Robert's comic series... Obviously, it's there. It's our roadmap. So even as we were working on Season 1, I already had ideas for what Season 2 could be, and so did he, and obviously beyond that."
He explained that when approaching a season, the creatives will see where they left off last season, pinpoint a part that "would be a great ending of the season," and then "look at the in-between." Racioppa said it's "a very organic, natural process:"
"We sit down early on in the in the process and sort of look at the books, and we look at where we ended, and we kind of find a place where, like, this would be a great ending of the season. So let's put the stake in the ground for that, that's where Season 1 ends in the books. And then we sort of look at the in-between, and we start to place things in episodes. So it's a very organic, natural process."
In that "in-between," according to Racioppa, there are elements that are "only two pages in the comic book" that are "pulled ... open" into a full episode, citing how they "spent more time with these characters:"
"And there's places where we're like, 'You know what, this was only two pages in the comic book, but I feel like it could be an episode, if we just sort of pulled it open.' And we got into it a little bit more. We spent more time with these characters. So that's kind of how we plan out a season."
Racioppa talked about how he is "excited" about "big events" and the new and returning cast members behind the characters.
He teased exciting plot moments, "scenes where characters are tested to their limits, both physically and emotionally," and explained his ideology that "great television is great drama:"
"I'm just excited. We have some big events, we have some great new actors and great new cast. And we have a lot of returning old cast. A couple of our characters really go through the wringer in Season 2. Maybe Mark meets someone again for the first time, for the second time, or whatever. I mean, to me, great television is great drama. And that's it, what it means is like heightened emotions, scenes where characters are tested to their limits, both physically and emotionally. And I hope we do that in a couple places in the season. And I hope that comes across to our audience."
Could Invincible Comics Spoil the Show?
With an adaptation as faithful to its source material as Invincible is, and the comics serving as a "roadmap" in the show's development, does reading the comics spoil the events of the series?
Maybe, yes, certain plot twists or big events may not have the element of surprise. But the nuanced differences that showrunner Simon Racioppa described do differentiate the show from its source material.
As such, even a die-hard Invincible comics fan may not expect the Debbie focus of Season 2 or two pages of the comics stretched out into a full episode, to use Racioppa's examples.
Character elements and alternate focuses that may be absent from the book or glossed over could get the attention that has story ramifications or make for a new, exciting addition to the story's canon.
Invincible Season 2 premieres on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, November 3.