AMC is down one massive hit series with the end of Breaking Bad and it’s about to lose another with the 2015 conclusion to Mad Men slowly creeping up. The network has shown no fear of mining its popular content for new creative outlets (see also: Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul), and now it’s turning that approach to yet another mainstream series: The Walking Dead. Just don’t call it a spinoff.
The network has apparently greenlit what EW calls a “companion series” to the show based on Robert Kirkman’s comic books. The as-yet-untitled new project is set in the same zombie apocalyptic universe as The Walking Dead, but it features an entirely new cast of characters and occurs in a completely different set of locations. It’s not a spinoff because none of the current show’s characters are pegged to appear in the new one.
Development of the companion series is in the hands of The Walking Dead executive producers Gale Anne Hurd, David Alpert, and Kirkman. Sons of Anarchy producer Dave Erickson was hired as the showrunner back in March 2014, and he developed a pilot script with Kirkman that was submitted only recently, and saw a positive reception.
“There are many corners of The Walking Dead universe that remain unseen in the shadows,” Kirkman said. “Being given the opportunity to shine a light into those corners and see what lurks out there is an absolute thrill. I know the fans are anxious to hear what Dave and I have been cooking up for this new universe of The Walking Dead, and I’m happy to be one step closer to sharing it with them.”
This is hardly the first time The Walking Dead universe has developed outside the comics. AMC’s hit series amounts to a re-engineered retelling of the basic narrative from Kirkman’s books, and Telltale Games’ critically acclaimed video game series tells a story set in the universe of the books, but with a different set of characters as its focus.
The Walking Dead returns to AMC for its fifth season on October 12.