The Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman & Scott Gimple Talk Season 4’s Focus, Comics vs. Series ‘Remixing,’ and More

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The Hollywood Reporter

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The Walking Dead's Robert Kirkman and Scott Gimple Talk Season 4's Focus, Comics vs. Series 'Remixing,' and Lots MoreIn a tease of what San Diego Comic-Con attendees will be hearing next week during the panel for “The Walking Dead,” comics creator/exec producer Robert Kirkman and new showrunner Scott Gimple have revealed a few more Season 4 tidbits for zombie-starved fans.

Both men spoke with THR recently, and here are the highlights. Be sure to hint the links for more.

Scott Gimple (more here) has been with the series since Season 2, working with both Frank Darabont, the first showrunner who developed the series and brought it to TV, and Glen Mazzara, who replaced Darabont.

When asked how his approach to showrunning differs from his predecessors, Gimple said, “It’s my third year now, and I’ve been able to benefit from the lessons we’ve learned, and I’m just trying to apply them. Whether it comes to writing, edits, talking with the crew, working on big sequences, I’ve been lucky to see people do it, both the triumphs and pitfalls. The biggest thing that I know is that it’s all about collaboration, and that goes on with all the people in Georgia and all the people in L.A. I’m constantly on the phone with the rest of my executive producers, picking their brains, asking for their help when I need it, and all of us pulling together to get things done.

He continued, “I’m trying to take a greatest-hits approach and take the best of both those runs and run with it. As far as my own personal stamp, it’s more of what we do here already with character-driven stories and really delving into these characters while having some amazing, horrible scares and exciting sequences but all in service to a greater story that builds. A phrase that I’ve been caught using a bunch is ‘cumulative storytelling.’ It’s about having everything stack up so it means something. When ‘The Walking Dead’ has been its best, all that stuff is happening at once: the emotion, action, horror, scares. I’m very proud that I was able to write an episode where a little zombie girl could walk out of a barn after a horrific zombie execution and have people cry. That’s one of the proudest things I’ve ever done.

Robert Kirkman (more here) had this to say about the tone of this season and the differences in style among the three showrunners past and present: “It’s a much more character-based story. It’s going to be more focused on who these characters are and what they’re going through. To a certain extent, we got away from that a little bit in Season 3. Coming into Season 4, we’re definitely going to know a lot more about these people so it will be that much more gut-wrenching and worse when we lose these characters.

With regard to Gimple’s cred, he added, “More than any other showrunner, Scott actually read the comics regularly and was a huge fan before the show existed and watched the first season and was a fan before he was brought on as a writer in Season 2. He absolutely loves the material. We are definitely going in some new directions and this will continue to be a different take on the material from the comics, but there will possibly be some scenes that are a little bit closer to the comic than we’ve done in the past. Season 4 probably has the most number of scenes that are adapted directly from the comic series or very close to what we did. A good deal of that is from Scott and the way he views that material and puts forth that extra effort to work it into the show in a way that it all works.

Gimple elaborated on his adaptation style, “Kirkman is more about departures from the comics than I have been in the past. His approach is more like, ‘Oh, it’s all good; we’ve seen that in the comic. We can mix it up.’ I’ve been more hardcore about keeping true to the exact story of the comic. Kirkman wound up loosening me up a little more about it, as far playing with different things going in different directions. To tell you the truth, at this point with where the story is, anybody who’s a big fan of the comic would see that we have to. It’s funny; in some ways the things that divert from the comic this year have actually served being closer to the comic in some way. There’s going to be some looping around to the comic and remixing. That’s how I essentially look at it: It’s a remix of the comic.

He also shed some light on an upcoming zombie gag that literally kept him up at night: “I have many fears in this life; I can be a bit of a worrier. Something that was keeping me up at night was one of the actual scenes that we did. It was a moment, and I blame Nicotero for it. I was closing my eyes and seeing it, and it wasn’t pleasant. It won’t be pleasant. In fact, I would say it was so unpleasant that the last several seconds had to be cut out because it just wouldn’t have been nice to anybody. I don’t want to spoil it, but it’s the execution of an amazing gag. It isn’t a giant moment because we had to trim a bit off it. People who are watching will see it if they really lock onto it. It’s not a pretty thing. But we’re not exactly shoving it in the audience’s faces.

Could Rick be finally losing his hand this year like in the comics? Both men were a bit coy.

Gimple said, “Going back to the remix idea, there are going to be big moments from the comic that will be seen in a very different context that fans will recognize but aren’t that different in the continuity of the book. There are a lot of things that are different at this stage in the story than they were in the comic. The Governor on the TV show is a different character than the Governor of the comic. You will recognize a bunch of those big moments this season, but you will also see that they aren’t exactly the same as they panned out in the comic, and you’ll know why because of where the story is now. Daryl Dixon is a huge part of the show, and he’s not in the comic. The stories that happen involve him heavily, and he, as a character, changes those stories. That happens in so many ways through our story. What’s cool is we can get in those moments, those themes and those dynamics, but they happen in different ways, at different times, and sometimes between different characters. It’s so cool for me, as a fan, when we do it. And it’s a way to take something that the comic fans know and present it in a different way and hopefully with a different emotional context but just as powerful as it was in the comic. So you still get something new, but it serves the story that’s just been told.

Kirkman teased when asked about some leaked photos from the set of Andrew Lincoln’s hand in a bandage, “It’s entirely possible that that could be some kind of spoiler for something that’s coming up, or it could be that people are just misinterpreting those photos. I can’t really nail anything down, but I can say that there are some very cool and memorable aspects of the comic book series being adapted into Season 4, and it’s certainly possible that that’s one of them.

What about the dreaded Governor? When will see his return? Kirkman, typically, was vague: “I couldn’t really say. We might not really expect to see him in the first episode and he shows up in the first episode back. Or it would be pretty shocking if he didn’t show up until the finale. It could be either/or or somewhere in between.” He didn’t tell us much about Season 4’s primary location either: “Anyone who has read the comics knows they don’t stay at the prison forever. What circumstances could occur that would lead them from the prison remain a mystery, but they could be in the prison for the next two or three seasons or leave the prison in the very first episode of this season. It’s all up in the air, and that’s the way we prefer it.

Any clues of how Michonne (Danai Gurira) will deal with Andrea’s death? Kirkman revealed, “As we meet Michonne coming back this season, she’s on a mission to hunt down the Governor. It’s something she’s very obsessed with. It’s big part of her character this season. She did lose Andrea and she lost her because of the Governor. She’s not willing to let that guy go or be out there. It’s something that may possibly be to her detriment, the fact that she’s so dedicated to finding this person. That’s something that very much informs her character this season.

Kirkman also said of new Season 4 character Bob Stookey (Larry Gilliard, Jr.) and the show’s approach toward the violence that comes with his storyline, “Stookey is very much the character that he was in the comic series. He also appears in the novel series and is a pretty big character there as well. Maybe that means we’re adapting some of the stories he was involved in, maybe we’re doing some other things he was a part of, or maybe we’re going a different way. Like all of the other characters, though we may do different things with them, they are very much the same characters that are being adapted into this world and have the same personalities and back stories. Bob will be someone who is familiar to the comic and novel audience, but we’re definitely not married to doing those stories and could do different things there.

Lastly, what about the possibility of seeing some current comic plot threads showing up on TV ahead of schedule? Kirkman pretty much put the kibosh on that: “It’s definitely a possibly, but I wouldn’t count on it. There are very cool things coming up in the comics that we may be desperate to try to work into the show sooner just because we all enjoy them and think they’re cool. I feel like those events and those characters don’t really have weight or aren’t really seen in the proper light if you haven’t done the things leading up to them. There’s some stuff that we’d have to do in the show before we got to the current storyline in the comics. That stuff seems like it’s still a ways off.

“The Walking Dead” returns this October with brand new episodes. Based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman and published by Image Comics, “The Walking Dead” tells the story of a group of survivors who travel in search of a safe and secure home in the months and years following a zombie apocalypse. The series stars Andrew Lincoln, David Morrissey, Steven Yeun, Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Chandler Riggs, Lauren Cohan, Scott Wilson, Melissa McBride, Chad Coleman, Sonequa Martin-Green, and Emily Kinney.

Related Story: Official “The Walking Dead” News Archive

The cast and producers of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” will participate in an hour-long panel at this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego, CA. Moderated by “Talking Dead” host Chris Hardwick, “The Walking Dead” panelists will discuss what fans can expect in the highly anticipated fourth season, which debuts in October. Panelists include Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, David Morrissey, Chad Coleman, Scott Wilson, Executive Producer and Showrunner Scott Gimple, Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd, Executive Producer Robert Kirkman, Executive Producer David Alpert, and Executive Producer and Special Effects Make-up Supervisor Greg Nicotero.

In addition, fans this year are invited to participate in the second annual “The Walking Dead Escape,” a zombie obstacle course at Petco Park during Comic-Con weekend. The course is open July 19th and 20th from 5PM to 10PM PT and allows survivors to climb, crawl, and slide as part of the adventure and to also avoid confrontation by hordes of walkers.

1. Autograph session on Friday, July 19th – 11:15AM at Booth #4237
2. Panel on Friday, July 19th – 1:35PM-2:30PM in Hall H
3. “The Walking Dead Escape” at Petco Park, July 19 and 20 – 5PM-10PM

To stay up-to-the-minute on all things walker related, follow @WalkingDead_AMC on Twitter and visit “The Walking Dead” on Facebook. For more be sure to hit up the official “The Walking Dead” page on

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  • Terminal

    It scares me when they say “Character based.” That means a bunch of whiny viewers going “Waaah! There weren’t any zombies on tonight’s show! Nothing happened!” And remixing from the comics? I’m curious what that means, too.