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Walking Dead creator: New TV show isn't a prequel, isn't in comic universe either

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While the still unnamed Walking Dead companion TV series set in Los Angeles kicks off before the events of the main show, it isn't a prequel and will eventually catch up with the AMC original, Robert Kirkman told me in an on-stage interview at SXSW.

"We have revealed that the time line is going to be taking place a little earlier then the time frame of the original show," said Kirkman in the one-on-one panel entitled "Creator Activism: A Discussion with Robert Kirkman." "So Rick Grimes [in The Walking Dead] kind of woke up in a coma and was like, 'Oh man, zombies. This is weird.' We're going to possibly see that unfold a little bit more in the other show.

"But I wouldn't call it a prequel because the entirety of the [LA-based show] isn't going to take place before our show. It will eventually reach a point where they are kind of running concurrently."

Kirkman said that the cool thing about having the two shows sort of run in parallel within the same universe is that the new show can stand on it's own.

"So you can watch the new show and it's about its own characters that are doing their own thing and you can watch it by itself and get your own experience," he said. "If you are watching both shows, there will be little nods and little things like we discovered this and we discovered that in a different way in this show."

As with The Walking Dead, the new show will feature characters who have to learn some tough lessons about surviving in a world of zombies.

"And maybe there are some things that are discovered in the companion show that hasn't been discovered in the show yet," he said. "So there could be like a thing where they encounter a zombie that did this in season four of The Walking Dead and now we know why that was there.

"And so we are going to be doing things like that, that are going to be pretty cool but for the most part they should be able to stand alone."

Kirkman wrapped up his thoughts, joking: "We're going to cross all of them over into an Avengers movie where they all fight Thanos."

the walking dead

AMC placed an initial order of two seasons for the new series, which Kirkman joked would be called The Walking Dead: CSI Miami and would feature plenty of sunglasses. The first, six one-hour episodes season will premiere on AMC in late summer. The second season will air in 2016.

With two Walking Dead television shows and two video games either live or in the works, I asked Kirkman how all of the stories fit together.

He said the television shows aren't actually a part of the same universe as the comics and video games.

"You could never argue that the comic and the show take place in the same universe, because Rick [Grimes] still has a hand," Kirkman said. "And in the comic they're never like, where'd Daryl Dixon go?"

The LA-based show "doesn't relate to the comics at all, because in the comics I've always focused on one group," he said. "But from the beginning of the show the one thing we've always heard is, 'What is going on here? What is going on there?' The intent of the new show is to expand that world a little bit and to show another corner of the United States and what's happening there."

And the video games, he said, are always drawn directly from the universe of the comics. What separates those stories is usually the region in which they occur and the time difference, he said.

"The way that the Starbreeze game [Overkill's The Walking Dead] will fit into that will be pretty clear soon," he said. "You will see there is some distance there."

"In the same way that Glenn showed up in the first episode of the Telltale Game, there will be elements in the Starbreeze game where you are like, 'Oh, that is that comic thing. That's cool.' But then it will kind of go off in its own direction."

Kirkman added that juggling the different stories and universes hasn't been a problem so far.

"We're keeping things separate pretty well," he said. "If it gets to the point of four or five Walking Dead shows ... I mean, I'll be on a boat and I won't care at that point."