Robert Kirkman spilled some details about his eagerly anticipated The Walking Dead companion series, as well as took a couple shots at DC Comics and even the medium of TV.
Appearing at panel titled “Creative Activism” at the South by Southwest conference in Austin on Saturday, the writer-producer was asked how his new spin-off* series will creatively fit with the comics and his existing Walking Dead flaghship series.
“It’s not going to relate to the comics at all,” Kirkman said. “From the beginning of the show one thing we’ve heard is, ‘What’s going on over here or there.’ So the intent of the new show is to expand that world and show another corner of the United States and what’s happening there. The timeline is taking place a little bit earlier timeframe than the original show. Rick Grimes woke up from a coma and was like, ‘Oh, man, zombies, weird!’ We’re going to possibly see that unfold a little more in the other show. But I wouldn’t call it ‘prequel’ because the entirety of the show is not going take place before [The Walking Dead]. It will eventually form a path running concurrently.”
That the two shows will eventually be unfolding at the same time is definitely interesting because it opens the door to the possibility to having characters cross over between the shows. Kirkman hinted there might be narrative connective tissue between the two shows, but only cited elements that would play out in the mind of the viewer and emphisized the shows would stand on their own.
Here’s how he explained it: ”One thing that we’re doing with the new show that we’re trying with everything is it’s not derivative,” he said. “It’s standing on its own. You can watch it by itself and get your own experience. But if you are watching both shows there are things like, ‘Oh they discovered this, or they discovered that in a different way.’ There are a lot of things about The Walking Dead world these characters have to learn or figure out to get by. And there may be some things that are discovered in the companion show that haven’t been discovered in the other show yet. So there could be like a thing where, ‘Oh, they encountered a zombie in season 4 in The Walking Dead that could do this and now we know why that was.’ So we’re going to be doing things like that are going to be pretty cool, but for the most part [the two shows] should be able to stand alone.”
“And then we’re going to cross it over for an Avengers movie and it will be great,” he joked (we think).
The companion series recently received a two season order from AMC. It consist of six one-hour episodes and will premiere on AMC in late summer And the title? Yet to be revealed. “We’re just going to call it Walking Dead CSI: Miami,” Kirkman said.
Kirkman was also asked to critique how Marvel and DC Comics have run their respective empires and he somewhat hesitantly offered this take: “ I’m going to get in trouble here … Anyone would be foolish to think that Marvel hasn’t done something extremely special. I think of Iron Man ending with with a surprise cameo from Samuel L. Jackson [mentioning] The Avengers – you were like, ‘What?! How did that happen?!’ People forget that was a surprise. Everything that came out of that was very organic and very exciting. I think [DC] announcing you’re going to do a Justice League movie after a Superman movie, that was neat and had some awesome things in it, but it wasn’t like amazing or groundbreaking – I shouldn’t have said that. It was an awesome movie, I like it. [The plan] just seems derivative, so it puts them in a backseat position to Marvel. It’s not organic so there’s going to be so much scrutiny on Batman vs. Superman when it comes out. It’s got an uphill battle. If they hadn’t told anybody if the Justice League were going to appearing in that, and they were forming that, it would have been surprising and exciting and weird. People are forgetting how important the surprise is. But, you know, Aquaman looks awesome and I’m sure it will be great.”
And what about his comics vs. his show? “I prefer working in comics. I think other people think TV is awesome. And certain in a numbers basis, more people watch TV. But comics are better – you just all haven’t realized it yet,” he said, drawing cheers.
*AMC wants the show to be called a “companion series” because it’s technically not a “spin-off” since the new show has an entirely new cast, but Kirkman used the terms interchangeably, so there.