More details of the upcoming Walking Dead spinoff have emerged, filling in the lines sketched out by the tense trailer AMC released in early March. Showrunner Dave Erikson and creator Robert Kirkman opened up about the character relationships and story arcs that will build the new series, Fear the Walking Dead.
Erikson, who produced Sons of Anarchy and Low Winter Sun, told The Hollywood Reporter that the new series, set in Los Angeles during the period of Rick's coma, is "more of a parallel story than a prequel...It's kind of its own strange, hybrid thing." And while the new series takes place at the beginning of that flu-like outbreak, the origin of the illness will remain unexplained. "For [Kirkman], it's never been about what caused it; it's always been about the impact it has on people."
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Kirkman offered a few more details on the relationship of the central characters, Travis and Madison, "two schoolteachers that both have kids from previous marriages and are very much in love."
Kirkman emphasizes that the two work together as a team and back each other up in the face of a crumbling civilization. Regarding the choice of profession, Kirkman pays tribute to an oft-neglected class of action hero: "I think schoolteachers are on the front lines of a lot of things these days with kids and parents and families and all kinds of different elements of society," he says. "They are fairly tough individuals, so we're going to be dealing with a couple of fairly tough individuals on this show."
Kirkman says revelation of the outbreak would appear to happen behind the scenes at first, with news stories that don't make sense and paranoia emerging. He also notes that the early walkers shown in the new series will have "a very unique look."
For those hoping to see a resurrection for beloved lost characters like Andrea, Erikson isn't making any promises: "I think logistically, it would be very difficult...There are no plans to do so but I do think that's a world that could be explored at some point."
Still, it sounds like Fear could be headed into the same high body count territory that marked the original series. "Anybody can be eaten at any time; it can happen to anyone," Erikson says. "No one is safe, but I also have some specific arcs in my head that will probably protect certain people."
Erikson also discussed the duration of both the new series and the original. While he's planning five or six seasons for Fear, he says that the original still has another few seasons left based on the material that Robert Kirkman wrote for the comic. Regarding the spinoff, Erikson says, "I think it's a safe bet that if things go well, they'll probably want more rather than less, but I'm not sure what that number's going to be."
Fear The Walking Dead's six-episode first season is set to debut on AMC this summer.