5 Things We Learned at the Fear the Walking Dead Panel at Comic-Con

Walker - The Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 16 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC Photo: Gene Page/AMC

Chris Hardwick couldn't extract too much detail while moderating Friday afternoon's Fear the Walking Dead panel at Comic-Con, but there were still worthwhile tidbits to feast on. We know now that Walking Dead characters you expect to be leaders might not make it, ones you expect to perish may yet surprise you, and, according to executive producer Dave Erickson, there's sure to be a lot of female badassery. Beyond that:

It’s a totally different mindset than when they launched The Walking Dead. “There’s this great sense of tension,” said Erickson. “The audience comes into it knowing what we have in store, but it’s a process watching the characters come to terms with it all. They don’t assume these people will die. They just think they’re sick or on something. Fear the Walking Dead is an opportunity to explore that.”

Travis is not Rick. “I love Travis,” said actor Cliff Curtis, who plays him. “He’s an optimist, and he’s in love with Madison and has a beautiful ex-wife and two sons; he’s a high-school teacher. It’s a very rich life he’s living. It’s a matter of focusing on the family. The outbreak stuff, it will be somewhere ‘over there.’ I liked the humanity of the script. It’s great because they’re completely unprepared. My character has no skills, so that’s interesting; it’s a really great setup.”

You can’t compare the two shows.The Walking Dead has bigger-than-life characters,” said TWD executive producer Greg Nicotero. “This show has everyday people. You get to experience what they’d do enduring a natural disaster. The one thing the two shows share is how circumstances change people, and it’s fascinating to watch how that happens. The high-school teacher doesn’t have a sword or a gun, but knowing that a society can be unraveling underneath these characters is what is at the heart of the everyday.”

The zombies won’t be quite as zombie-ish. “This is more like you’re sitting next to someone and they don’t look quite well,” Nicotera described. “Your first instinct isn’t to shoot them in the head, just maybe to stay away from them, cross the street. We still have a couple of our signature [zombie] moments in the first episode, but it’s not the signature decomposition like in The Walking Dead because they haven’t been walking around for a year. It’s similar to Emma Bell’s transformation — there’s still a little light in their eyes and not so much aggression.”

Class and economic inequality will be a theme. “There’s an expectation that if you have money you can buy your way out of the apocalypse,” said producer Gale Anne Hurd. “That’s something we’ll be dealing with.”