Creator Robert Kirkman has been dropping some details about Fear the Walking Dead, the goofily named spin-off to the hit zombie series The Walking Dead. It sure sounds like the show is going to be very different from the original, and not just because of the setting or the time period.

As you may recall, Fear the Walking Dead will be set on the West Coast in the early days of the zombie plague, before people have figured out they should... uh... fear those pesky walking dead, I suppose. As Kirkman told IGN, that will give the show the chance to look at two families as society begins to break down:

One of the things we’re trying to play with this tight-knit family unit in Fear the Walking Dead is this concept of an extended unique family. What we have is Madison (Kim Dickens) and her family and we have Travis (Cliff Curtis) and his family. They’re building a relationship. They’re getting ready to be married. Civilization is crumbling around them. They both have kids from separate marriages. It’s just an interesting family dynamic to deal with in any story. But having all of the intricacies and struggles that come from that kind of family dynamic, and setting it against the fall of civilization and in the face of the zombie apocalypse just makes things that more interesting.

I like this idea in concept, but I worry that viewers might not be interested in seeing this sort of relationship drama in a show where they know civilization is going to crumble and there’ll be towns full of passive-aggressive cannibals luring people to their dinner tables. I think it’s going to be hard for some people to care about the smaller stakes of the spin-off, given what we’ve seen in The Walking Dead.

Speaking of the dead, they’ll differ in Fear as well.

[The zombies in Fear the Walking Dead are] not going to be as decayed, and they’re not going to be as monstrous, which is going to make the violence in the show and the different things that happen that much more startling. Because we’re going to be dealing with a much more human walker. So while there is going to be a tremendous amount of paranoia and psychological trauma, I think there’s not going to be any loss of zombie action or excitement in this show. We’ll be bringing in the best of both worlds.

The not decaying part makes sense, but I’m not sure what Kirkman means by a “much more human Walker.” Are the first zombies smarter? Do they retain certain memories or feelings after they turn? And if so, shouldn’t this also have happen to people who were infected in The Walking Dead, if it affects all new zombies? Or is there something that makes these first zombies different?

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Very strange, but intriguing. I suppose we’ll get our answers when Fear the Walking Dead debuts on AMC later this summer.


Contact the author at rob@io9.com.