NEW YORK -- Comic book enthusiasts, writers, illustrators, celebrities and some 115,000 attendees gathered this weekend in New York City for the seventh annual, sold-out New York Comic Con. There was, however, no mistaking the fact that a large draw to the event was a panel of celebrities from AMC's popular post-apocalyptic show, "The Walking Dead."
The 3,000-seat IGN Theater at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center was jam-packed with zombie-loving fans -- including some who waited nearly eight hours for a chance to get inside.
AMC's Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick moderated the event. Joining Hardwick on stage was "The Walking Dead" comic creator Robert Kirkman, executive producer Gale Anne Hurd and stars Andrew Lincoln (who plays Rick Grimes), Chandler Riggs (Carl Grimes), Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon), Danai Gurira (Michonne), David Morrissey (The Governor) and Michael Rooker (Merle Dixon).
Hardwick kicked the event off with a clip from Sunday's third season premiere of the horror-drama. The short clip hit the mark with fans, who roared as the sneak-peak clearly demonstrated there would be no pause in the action that drew fans into the exhilarating series' first two seasons.
"I think everyone would agree after the way we ended the second season, backing off in any way and slowing the pace down would have been a mistake," Kirkman said. "We kind of hit the ground running ... and it just kind of goes from there. It's just absolutely nonstop."
According to Lincoln, Season 3 will contain more zombie kills than its predecessors.
"It's been pretty intense this season," Lincoln said. "I made the fatal error this year of going into the writers' room and saying, 'What do you think Rick's breaking point is?' Well, that's the worst thing I could have said. We find out this season ... He's going to the dark side."
Riggs, whose character remained out of commission for much of Season 2 while recovering from a gunshot wound, will play a much larger role in Season 3, according to Hurd.
"This time, when someone asks 'Where's Carl?' we can say, 'In the house -- killing zombies,'" she remarked.
Riggs described his character's transition as going from "child to boy soldier."
When Hardwick asked Riggs during the event if his character was "turning into an awesome killing machine," Riggs replied, "It's really fun for me to play more of a dark character ... you can definitely see the change ... you get to see this kid adapt to this world, and he's definitely done that."
Reedus had the crowd sing "Happy Birthday" to his son Mingus, who turned 13 that day. Afterward, he addressed his character's state of mind and the return of Rooker, who disappeared during Season 1.
"I think Daryl feels value in these people relying on him," Reedus said. "I think this is his new family and he'd do anything to keep them alive. He's more sensitive and more aggressive at the same time."
PHOTOS FROM THE WALKING DEAD EVENT: (Story Continues Below)
Reedus also revealed a running gag on the set between himself and Lincoln. He said he will often whisper, "Love you" to Lincoln -- to which his co-star will reply, "F**k you."
Gurira, whose character is a newcomer to the TV series, offered some insight on the katana-wielding stranger named Michonne.
"I think Michonne is a bit of a thriver," Gurira said. "Getting from [a] pre-apocalyptic world to [a] post-apocalyptic world, whatever happens there is something where you do or you die. Her choice to 'do' was a very intense and powerful choice that allowed her to recreate herself into a formidable force in this realm."
Morrissey, another new addition to the cast for Season 3, plays "The Governor," a character made popular in the "The Walking Dead" comic book series. Asked by Hardwick if The Governor is evil, Morrissey replied, "It's an interesting term, evil. Isn't it? Depends upon what you want it to be."
"He's evil," Lincoln interjected, garnering a roar of laughter from the crowd.
Rooker did not offer any details on the return of Merle Dixon. When asked what makes his character appealing to fans, Rooker said Dixon is "a tough a**hole."
During a Q&A with fans, Lincoln was asked to examine a woman's Walking Dead leg tattoo. Much to the surprise of the audience, Lincoln jumped off the stage and gave his approval. Afterward, he and Reedus posed for a photo with the woman.
A young fan in the audience asked the cast what their weapon of choice would be in the event of an actual zombie apocalypse. Here are the details:
Lincoln: flamethrower; Riggs: lancer (from the Gears of War video game); Reedus: bazooka; Gurira: katana sword; Morrissey: Chuck Norris; Rooker: arm-attached rocket launcher or bazooka.
CAST YOUR VOTE IN THE WEAPON OF CHOICE POLL: (Story Continues Below)
The crowd offered loud boos when a fan asked Kirkman if the survivors would find a cure for the zombie plague. Kirkman left no doubt about the producer's intentions.
"If we were into finding the cure, this would be a completely different show," Kirkman said. "This is about the struggle to survive. That's the story we want to tell. It's much more engaging."
One of the last questions offered to the panel brought laughter when a fan started off by saying, "Well, I have DISH Network ..." (The satellite provider recently ended a television programming contract with AMC and no longer carries their programming). The fan was cut off before he could finish by Kirkman, who jokingly led the audience in a chant of "Screw DISH!"
Once the crowd calmed down, Hardwick suggested the fan find an alternative provider.
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