The Walking Dead, which premieres it’s fifth season on October 12, kept its presence strong at Comic Con 2014, amongst “our people,” as Norman Reedus waved hello and yelled to the thousands that filled Hall H for the first-ever sneak peek at what is to be their most ambitious season yet (according to Chris Hardwick, moderator and Talking Dead host).
In addition to the main event, the comic book panel—a completely fan-orchestrated Q&A with artist Charlie Adlard, editorial director Sean Mackiewicz and creator/executive producer Robert Kirkman—took place the previous day.
And fans did not let Kirkman get away without answering the one question that has continuously presented itself ever since he created these zombies- er, walkers: When the Zombie Apocalypse happens, what’s your weapon of choice and contingency plan?
“I’d go to the top of the building and jump off,” he said, as one of the more somber moments of the mostly lively discussion. “I’ve lived in that world for too long. It’s not a fun world to live in.”
By far the best question came from a four year-old, held up by her father to reach the mic, after Adlard revealed his initial struggles with drawing horses and his eventual love for the task: “Why don’t you do zombie My Little Pony?” Obviously, the entire crowd erupted.
Back in Hall H, the panel began with a sitcom-esque parody that depicted an old Rick Grimes and other characters playing cards in the train car that they were trapped in at the end of Season Four. “It’s sort of like Cheers at Terminus,” joked showrunner Scott Gimple.
During both panels there was also an emphasis on getting back to the roots of the comic.
“The comic is more important to me than any aspect of The Walking Dead,” said Kirkman on Thursday. “We don’t want to get caught up in all that Hollywood stuff.” And on Friday he added, “Terminus seems like a major departure [from the comics], but we’re getting back on track. I think this is the season that will be pretty close to the comic.”
Executive producer Gale Anne Hurd also contributed to the Hall H panel, adding “Those of you who haven’t read the comic, you should start.”
After the big reveal of the Season Five teaser (and the subsequent gasps and screams), cast members Norman Reedus, Andrew Lincoln, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, Michael Cudlitz, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, and Chad Coleman took the stage.
“There’s something about getting my gun back, and getting my shoes on and getting dirty that feels right,” said Lincoln on what if felt like to leave ‘Sad Rick’ behind.
And in honor of that, Hardwick played an embarrassing behind-the-scenes montage of the man behind Rick: clips of Lincoln’s scene preparation, which consisted of punching a steering wheel, repeatedly bashing a slat of wood and lots of grunting.
Lincoln refused to watch. “That was so embarrassing,” he said afterward.
Each cast member took a minute to talk a little about their character and where things might be going for them, and Button Lady (a Comic-Con staple) was there to reprimand Hardwick for not giving her her own panel, something which she had allegedly been promised. And the show wouldn’t have been complete without a member of the audience outfitted in Zombie garb, complete with in-character monotone voice, asking, “What are you guys doing to raise awareness for us infected people?”—to which the panel responded with bursts of laughter.
Here are a few additional highlights from some of our beloved walking live characters:
”[joking] I thought they were going to kill me off on episode two.”
“None of us are the same as in Season One. I’m so beat up right now. I’m definitely as awkward as Daryl. I’m a lot like him though—cut from the same cloth, just different parts of the world.”
“In this apocalypse everyone has had their potential unlocked. Back at home [Glen] wouldn’t have been this person. But now he has things to protect. He’s learned a lot. At the end of last season, he overcame an incredible task—to find the people he lost. Even though it was dire, he held out hope. Even though it is dire, I think he’s carrying on their legacies and he has hope.”
“You do what you need to do, which is kill 7-10 people at a time, then you snatch a moment to show a bit of emotion. The physicality of the show exhausts you so much, and exhaustion does make it easier to cry.”
“I decided I was going to meet comic book Abraham in the middle. It’s mostly about attitude anyway. He’s a badass. My first season was like moving into someone’s house and sleeping on a couch. This year, they’ve built me a room.”
“I go to both sides—getting torn up physically and emotionally. She’s more agile than me, so I consistently have to catch up with what she’s capable of. It proved challenging to hang on to her dark parts so tightly, even while healing the outside wounds. She keeps me on my toes.”
“She’s prepared to do anything. It’s coming to terms with the fact that this is the way the world is now. I think at her center she feels justified and it comes from a place of caring. If it weren’t for that, what’s the point of living?”
[A late surprise arrival to the panel]
“It’s been an awesome experience. Growing up on the show I’ve had the most amazing mentors. It’s been one third of my life. [To which Hardwick interjected, “You just made me feel very old. I was here five years ago. Like standing right here.]”
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