“When civilization ends, it ends fast.” That’s the last line of the first trailer for Fear the Walking Dead (above), the Walking Dead spin-off which made its Comic-Con debut Friday afternoon. Now learn how this spinoff will differentiate itself from the original series that spawned it.
At the Fear the Walking Dead panel at this year’s Comic-Con, showrunner Dave Erickson said he and series creator Robert Kirkman wanted to show a major metropolis and how it falls with a spin-off, which is the opposite of the more rural Walking Dead. “The audience knows what they have in store,” Erickson said. “On the show, the characters slowly come to understand. At first they don’t know what this is. They think they’re sick, they don’t know it’s the undead.” He described the first season as “the shark you don’t see.”
The show will begin as a family drama and filter the zombie apocalypse through that. The apocalypse will more or less fully arrive by the end of the first season and the show’s aim will be, basically, the end of the world crushing both a family and the city of Los Angeles.
Timewise, Fear the Walking Dead takes place during Rick’s coma on the original show. Kirkman says Rick was out for 4-5 weeks and this show covers about 2-to-3 weeks of that. However, they aren’t necessarily aiming to line up with The Walking Dead’s premiere. “We won’t end our finale and then Rick wakes up,” Erickson said.
Another maor difference between the shows is the leads. Rick on The Walking Dead was already a born leader, being a police officer, yet the lead characters Madison and Nick, played by Kim Dickens and Cliff Curtis, are a school guidance counselor and an English teacher., respectively These characters aren’t born survivors. Thus the series will reveal who “becomes a diamond and who crumbles to dust.”
“There’s really no comparison between the shows,” added Nicotaro. He discussed how The Walking Dead features has larger than life characters, while the spin-off will feature normal people—and it’ll reveal how normal people are changed by incredible circumstances.
As for the zombie design, it’s important to remember the timeline. In The Walking Dead, the dead have been walking around for a few years at this point. In Fear, they look like someone you may see on the street. They’re “freshly turned” and thus much more normal looking.
According to Erickson, there’s quite a fracture between the people who buy into the apocalypse and those who are in denial. Producer Gale Anne Hurd added that the characters on this show act like we’d act. They think the mysterious illness sweeping L.A. is something that will pass, but the hook of the show is we audience members know it won’t.
Several members of the cast were also on the panel (including Ruben Blades) but they still don’t really know that much about their characters, because they’ve only been with them a short time (they’ve only filmed a short, six-episode first season). Still, it’s a Walking Dead spin-off, so it seems pretty likely they’ll have plenty of time in the future to explore their characters.
Oh, and for the big question: Will the shows cross over? “There are no plans to merge the stories,” according to Erickson... but they haven’t ruled it out totally. We’ll have to watch and see who survives long enough to get to Alexandria anyways.