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THE WALKING DEAD Panel Entertained Fans While Avoiding Spoilers

Daryl dies! Just kidding. In a panel where most fan questions came from awesome cosplayers, and nothing could be shown of any characters who may or may not have died, fans left Comic-Con’s 2016 The Walking Dead panel solidly entertained regardless, as the cast took the time to goof around and engage their funny sides

Running back from a brief break following the Fear the Walking Dead panel, Chris Hardwick kicked this one off by announcing the premiere date of Sunday Oct. 23rd:: 8 episodes to come, and 8 more in 2017

First the producers came out, with Robert Kirkman saying, “You’re gonna love who he killed! It’s gonna be great!” He thinks people will consider it worth the wait and love it.

Gimple confirmed the Kingdom is coming, and that’s where Carol and Morgan are going. Hurd stated they’re expanding the world of the show, with more people than you’ve met before: friend and foe. “And there might be some interesting non-human characters as well.” Woodbury and the Governor were “small-scale” compared to what’s coming, said Dave Alpert. Kirkman had written some of it in the comics set at a level he assumed a TV budget could never cover, but now it’s happening.

New zombie stills were shown, including a burned one with huge blisters (“crispy blister), a Fulci-esque one, and a fat one called Hitchcock “because his eyes got pecked out by birds.”

Nicotero said Rick isn’t even close to rock bottom yet.

The new trailer (above) revealed the awesomely dreadlocked King Ezekiel and his huge pet tiger, giant hogs eating corpses, Negan using his bat, Morgan stick-fighting, sand -zombies…and because showing any of the major characters would reveal who survived, the principals were only shown in flashback montages with clips going back to the early episodes.

The cast came out, with Jeffrey Dean Morgan semi in-character, threatening and swearing at everyone while quoting Negan lines. He said he has never been stopped on the street so much in his life, ever. “People come out of the floor and ceiling and walls” even when you think you’re alone, he says.

Ezekiel is younger and more svelte than in the book, but Khary Patyon’s audition was so good, Kirkman “went bananas.”

Lincoln talked about how his mom is such a superfan she gives him acting notes, telling him he has to “dig deep” and “get back into that space.” Said “It’s a really shitty start to the season” to have someone killed, but hang in there, because it’s building to the greatest showdown since Terminus. Sounds safe to say Rick didn’t die.

Steven Yeun said reading Glenn’s death in the comics was an “Oh crap!” moment for him as an actor, but as a fan he loved that it could still shock and deliver such moments.

Chandler Riggs (greeted by a few scattered “CORAL!” chants in the crowd), with hair the length of an ’80s metal band member now, lamented the loss of depth perception that comes from having an eyepatch. He liked the prosthetic better than the eyepatch, because with the patch they always want his eyebrow showing, so they keep adjusting and pushing it up. Danai Gurira said Carl is the key to Rick and Michonne getting together, because caring for a younger man and becoming a mother figure again opens her heart. The crew had a sense long before her that Rick and Michonne were going to get together. She sees him as “a good man burdened by leadership, rather than someone who needs leadership to feel like a man.”

Norman Reedus recalls a time they were in Japan, and he taught Lincoln some Japanese, though rather than a thanks to the fans, he gave him the words to say “Where’s the toilet?” They prank each other constantly; Reedus brought a video of when he rigged the A/C in Lincoln’s car to glitter bomb him every time it turned on. Back on the panel, Lincoln then suddenly blew gold glitter in Reedus’ face; Reedus promptly made out with him to get it all over his beard.

Josh McDermitt got a big cheer for it being his first Comic-Con. Asked if he’s seen a lot of Eugene cosplays, he replied he’s seen a lot of crossplays by women, and he kind of wants to sleep with Eugene now. He loves the more elaborate ones, like people who dress as Eugene looking over a bookshelf, with the shelf as part of the costume. It’s also Christian Serratos’ first Comic-Con, so she asked for pity laughs if she’s not funny. Crowd laughed in response, while McDermitt made faces in mock jealousy. Serratos says seeing people cosplay as her is a highlight—there aren’t many string Latina comic-book characters, and fans often thank her for embodying one.

Michael Cudlitz thinks Rosita was a relationship of convenience for Abraham at the time, but now that he sees a future, he sees things he admires in Sasha, and wants to share that…though he still loves Rosita and would do anything for her. She and Eugene are his family, but he can’t deny what he’s feeling. Sonequa Martin-Green said “it got real” between them in the car, because she was still nursing, and he had to help her with her breast milk.

Ross Marquand and Cudlitz got great laughs for reading a scene as Rocky Balboa and Mickey, both of whom they do perfectly.

Taped greetings were shown from Lennie James and Melissa McBride, with James promoting the hashtag #MorganLives.

A Michonne cosplayer thanked Gurira profusely for playing a non-neutered, fully romantic, dark-skinned black woman, and wondered if they thought about the political impact of that. Scott Gimple said he wasn’t aware—he thinks of them as characters, and likes to think that in the apocalypse, people are judged as who they are, without societal hangups. Gurira gave props to Gimple as a storyteller for thinking about the humanity rather than other baggage. “I have always been a black girl…I was born that way! So I hear you.” She’s very thankful that Michonne’s humanity is pursued, maybe some feathers will be ruffled, but that’s what happens with change. She does want to break that barrier an allow more such portrayals to be expressed.

A Daryl cosplayer asked Reedus what his favorite scene was in season 6, and why was it the scene where he blew Negan’s men up with the rocket launcher? As Lincoln and Reedus tried to continue their glitter slap-fight, Lincoln interjected that all Reedus talked about in that scene was how he looked from behind.

A small kid cosplaying as Negan (with Lucille), whom Morgan remembers taking a picture with in Denver, asks how many zombies Negan kills in the second episode of the new season. Gimple puts the number at 61, because you will see a lot of them on a fence outside his compound.

A zombie cosplayer asked about anti-zombie stereotypes, suggests they should show walkers can hold jobs. Gas station attendant is his idea. cast members suggested a few other things, from teacher to meat-grinder.

Audience question: do UK actors ever stand to one side and say Americans are crazy? Marquand replied that after the Brexit vote, they’ve lost the right to.

Final fan question: When will Hardwick make a cameo on the show? He replied the internet already accuses him of ruining the show and he can’t do it for real; recognizing him would take people out of the show. But he’d love an episode where the characters come home and he’s just there in the living room, asking them about their day.

We closed, as often happens, with the trailer again.

Featured image: AMC

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