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The Walking Dead Invades Comic-Con With a Packed Panel and Signing

Last year’s San Diego Comic-Con was pretty much owned by The Walking Dead, and this year — if possible — was even bigger. A packed-to-capacity panel, screaming fans, and even child walkers on leashes meant that wherever you were, the Dead weren’t far behind.

The main events kicked off Friday morning at The Walking Dead booth with a signing by cast members Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, and newcomers Danai Gurira and David Morrissey, as well as Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd, Co-Executive Producer and Special FX Make-Up Designer Greg Nicotero, Executive Producer Glen Mazzara, and Executive Producer Robert Kirkman.

The aisles around the booth were packed to a stand-still with screaming fans snapping pictures. Fans passed around getting signatures and the cast was all too game to pose for photos — Norman Reedus in particular repeatedly hopped up to take shots with the people stuck behind him on the crowded floor.

Then it was time for the panel. After last year’s, 5,000-person-strong panel in Ballroom 20 (where fans purportedly waited all night for seats) Comic-Con staff wisely moved The Walking Dead panel this year to the largest venue, Hall H… which ended up packed to capacity again. The wait, however, was worth it, with the cast and crew dropping big news as well as a four-minute sneak peak at Season 3.

Welcoming out the production team, moderator Chris Hardwick (Talking Dead) asked Robert Kirkman to run down the pertinent plot points from Season 3: “It opens with I can’t tell you, and then you’ll just have to wait and see,” joked Kirkman. The talk then turned to the central  set-piece of Season 3 — the prison — and how the pace of the show is going to be even more bare-knuckle than it was in Season 2. (The undead, too, will find tougher conditions: “We wanted to sell that they’re hungry, and emaciated… And there’s a lot of them,” said Greg Nicotero.)

Gale Anne Hurd, for her part, noted that not only will we get the prison in Season 3, but also the villainous Governor’s hometown of Woodbury. Oh, and of course, Michonne complete with her “Katana-wielding action.”

Then came the big announcement as Hurd told the excited crowd that The Walking Dead Season 3 would premiere on Sun., Oct. 14 at 9/8c. And then, the four-minute Season 3 Comic-Con trailer, which showed off Michonne in action, the prison, lots and lots of Woodbury and a final shot of Michael Rooker, who invited, “Say hello to your old friend Merle.”

Then, out came the cast to huge applause. Lincoln thanked the fans for all their support, followed by Callies — “Even though I know some of you are mad at me,” she joked.

Holden talked a bit about introducing Michonne, and her relationship with Andrea. “It’s a wonderful journey actually, because they become wonderful friends, and battling elements in this post-apocalyptic world,” said Holden.

Then it was over to Yeun, who said, “I get this very identifiable arc, where Glenn was this boy, and he grows up into a man. It’s manning up, and doing what he’s supposed to be doing.”

On Maggie in Season 3, Cohan said, “Maggie is lucky because she has more family left than anyone else. She’s all about protecting her own… But the farm was a walk in the park.”

Then, Gurira talked about joining the cast, using a katana sword and eating cherries to keep her joints moving. “It’s exhausting, but at the end of the day, it’s all good.”

Moving on down, it was time to talk to David Morrissey, who plugged that he came on the show as a fan, but was excited to find the crew was amazing too. “I keep pinching myself, it’s amazing,” said Morrissey.

Before opening to questions, Lincoln talked about how Rick has changed since the beginning of the show. “It’s an interesting place to start,” he said. “The season is really about him realizing he needs other people to stay alive.”

Opening to audience questions, a blushing fan professed love for Reedus, and said she couldn’t get enough of Daryl. “I love you, baby,” Reedus responded.

Next up, the panel was asked how they’re similar to their characters. Lincoln said he’s very different from Rick. Callies lamented that because of her character she gets yelled at in grocery stores. Reedus told a story about using bacon as fish-bait, illustrating his inherent redneck. Yeun, too is similar to his character, while Cohan is a romantic and Gurira said she was a “lioness.”

Morrissey on the other hand, differs a bit more from his character. On that, he said, “We don’t know who we are until we’re challenged, and this is a challenging world.”

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