Today was apparently Walking Dead Day at Comic-Con, with AMC’s flagship zombie series and its new spinoff, Fear The Walking Dead, both getting the convention’s standard panel-and-trailer treatment. Besides the usual con banter, the most interesting news coming out of the panels was the programs’ scheduling, with the network revealing that the two shows won’t be airing alongside each other when they start up in the fall. Instead, the six-episode first season of Fear will air first, premiering in its parent program’s usual Sunday night time slot on August 23, and running there until The Walking Dead starts its sixth season on October 11.
That earlier positioning makes a kind of sense, though, since the trailer for the new series makes it clear that Fear is intended as a kind of location-shifted prequel series, providing the “During” portion of the zombie apocalypse glimpsed in “Before” and “After” form in the pilot for the original show. Centering on a pair of concerned parents played by Kim Dickens and Cliff Curtis, the show seems to be going out of its way to distinguish itself from its massively successful template. The urban setting stands in heavy contrast to The Walking Dead’s focus on rural Southern locales, for example, while the rising panic and paranoia—complete with teens shooting, watching, and spreading viral videos of the virally infected—sets a very different tone from that show’s vibe of desperation-tinged doom.
Speaking of that now-venerable splatterfest, it also had a trailer to show at the Con, focused on the rising tensions at work in its upcoming sixth season. Much of that strain is embodied in recurring cast member Lennie James, whose character Morgan Jones arrived at the Alexandria Safe Zone at the end of the fifth season finale, just in time to see his old friend Rick take another step down the road to blood-stained debauchery. Fans of the series can expect a lot of plotting and conversations between James and the other characters about what has to be done to support, avoid, or take Rick down, in between all the “pointing guns at people’s heads” stuff this cast is always getting up to.
AMC also announced that the Aug. 23 premiere of Fear The Walking Dead will be accompanied by a special episode of chat show The Talking Dead, to better work through all the Fear-ing you’re going to have to do. There’s no trailer for that one yet, but feel free to look at this picture of Chris Hardwick for a few minutes and imagine him speaking to you with boundless enthusiasm about zombie makeup, or what actors were thinking about when they got devoured by the undead horde.