October 16, 2011 at 06:15 PM EDT

The Walking Dead

TV Show
run date
Andrew Lincoln, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, Norman Reedus
Drama, Horror, Thriller

The unofficial Walking Dead takeover of continues! Yesterday, members of the Dead cast and crew (including creator Robert Kirkman) swung by the New York Comic-Con for a capacity-crowd panel. Everyone was pretty mum, spoiler-wise, although Kirkman explicitly stated his wish to get one fan-favorite character from the comic books into the show. (Conspiracy theorists will be sad, or perhaps happy, to hear that there was nary a mention of departed Dead showrunner Frank Darabont.) The panel was moderated by Chris Hardwick, host of the spin-off talk show The Talking Dead. Read on for a full report, and be sure to check back tonight for my full Walking Dead episode recap:

–Executive producer Gale Anne Hurd kicked off the event with a piece of information that was like an arrow straight into geek hearts everywhere, describing Kirkman’s expanded involvement in the show’s second season. She explained, “We lured Robert from Kentucky to the wilds of Los Angeles, so he can participate in the writers’ room every day.”

–Kirkman’s involvement in the series is intriguing, since the first season deviated significantly from the original graphic novels. (Spoilers for this season and the Dead comic ahead). Kirkman noted that the early episodes of this season would focus on Herschel’s Farm, a setting from the second volume of the series. “Readers of the book will know that Shane [Jon Bernthal’s character] was dead by then, in the comic. His character existing in this world changes those storylines and makes them richer and adds different levels. It’s a lot of fun for me because I wrote these stories a long time ago, and getting to do things in a different way is a lot of fun.”

A persistent topic of conversation was the scale of the production, which this season involved shutting down an entire section of highway in Atlanta. But in between all the special effects, it’s important not to doubt the actors’ commitment to the show. Discussing a zombie attack in tonight’s premiere, Laurie Holden (Andreas) said, “I dislocated four ribs filming that scene.”

–Norman Reedus was the clear audience favorite, earning wild applause every time he spoke up or made any facial guest whatsoever.. He described his character, Darryl Dixon, as a man who needs a hug, “But if you try to hug him, he’ll try to stab you.” When he said this, a loud cry went up throughout the room, as if ten thousand women were all screaming once, “Stab me! Stab me!” (Judging by the general audience reaction at the biggest panels at Comic-Con, Hollywood should cast Norman Reedus and Tom Hiddleston as brothers in an emo-badass action franchise right away.)

–Discussing AMC’s willingness to allow graphic violence on the show, Steven Yuen (Glenn) made a throwaway reference to the slightly-more-touchy difficulty of filming “The sex stuff.” So now you know there will be sex in Walking Dead season 2. Exciting, eh?

–The youngest member of the cast — Chandler Riggs, who plays Carl — gave some of the night’s most thoughtful answers. He noted that he felt a little bit as if he was playing a completely different character this season — a Carl who goes out and gets in the middle of the action, instead of standing passively by. Riggs also delivered the non sequitur laugh line of the night: When Chris Hardwick asked him if his role on Walking Dead had made him the coolest person in his friend group, he offered a long explanation about how he didn’t want to be “the Walking Dead guy,” before concluding, “I like it when my friends are normal.” Kids say the darndest things!

–Riggs also wins for best response of the night: When an audience member asked the cast what kind of weapon they’d prefer in a zombie apocalypse, Riggs deadpanned, “A flamethrower with a bayonet.” (Is it even possible for a pre-teen to deadpan?) Give Steven Yuen credit for an outside-the-box response, though: He said he’d prefer a bow staff. “Like Ninja Turtles?” screamed an attendee. Yes, sir, like Ninja Turtles.

–In a nice treat for fans of the comic, Robert Kirkman responded to an audience question with an explicit assurance that Michonne — one of the graphic novel’s most interesting characters — will make the crossover to the TV series. “Michonne will definitely be appearing on the show,” he said. (Although probably not this season — he made it sound like the writers were still working on incorporating her.)

Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich

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