WARNING - Spoilers!
"The Walking Dead" protagonist Rick Grimes will be donning a new police uniform in "Hope," an upcoming storyline that puts the cast of the book in an unusually civilized location. Over the last several issues, Rick and his fellow survivors have been traveling to Washington, D.C. in hopes of finding salvation from the zombie crisis – though none of them could've anticipated what they'd find near the nation's capital.
"D.C. is going to be somewhat of a utopia compared to what they have been living in," Kirkman revealed. "They're going to find a pocket of civilization that is pretty much intact. It's somewhere on the outskirts of D.C., a suburban area that has pretty much walled an area off. We're going to meet those people, and our characters are going to intermingle with their society. There's conflict that arises from all of this, obviously, but there's going to be at least one issue where they're drinking tea!"
After spending a multitude of issues in the safe confines of a prison, it might appear that "The Walking Dead" is retreading old ground with its move to a closed-off utopian society, but Kirkman suggested that readers give the new direction a chance. "I imagine that this'll be another case where people say, 'I don't know how he's gonna pull this one off. How's he going to keep this going?' I've been hearing that since issue #8," he argued. "On the surface, I can see how people might think, 'Yeah, they're going to be totally safe now!' I'd just say, trust me. There's a multitude of story avenues that I can go through with this set up. It's a logical evolution of the series for me. It's something that I've had planned for a good long while. It's going to be cool, and I think that in reading the book for as long as people have, being walled in with a bunch of normal people in a seemingly normal, protected area may not end up being as great as it seems. There are problems that could arise from that."
What kind of problems, you ask? For starters, it might not be so easy for our heroes to adjust to a quasi-normal society given what they've been through. "Imagine living life for over a year where the only rule was survive," Kirkman argued. "Now, they're coming into an area where there are vastly more rules. They may have grown so accustomed to their way of living that going back to normal society could seem completely alien to them. It's going to be a rough transition, and some people are going to transition better than others."
Additionally, the survivors won't be getting totally complacent, as zombies will remain a part of the book. "There's gonna be supply runs," he revealed. "Everyone's going to get a job. Some of those people's jobs will be expanding the safe zone wall. So there's going to be construction working against the zombies. There's going to be dangers, everything that comes with trying to survive in a walled-in society. You're going to have to eventually go out of there – it's just that when you're done going out, you get to go home and have a dinner party. Part of the conflict coming up is going to be, 'Is Rick double dipping? Did he bite that chip and put it back in the dip?!' These are the things they're going to have to deal with again!"
If the "The Walking Chip" sounds a tad stale to you, at least Kirkman is enthralled by the idea. With both "Invincible" and "The Walking Dead," Kirkman said that he's constantly developing new stories that excite him. "I've always wanted to do long, sprawling runs on books, and it just so happens that it's happened on two creator-owned books that I control completely," he said. "Being able to ride that out for the long haul and lay out these choices and turns, do everything I can to keep things interesting and compelling, I only get more excited. My excitement level is as high as it's ever been, and I'm continually coming up with where the next place to go is, what the next arc in the book is."
and here is a future cover from the 'Hope' arc;
taken from http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=22212