Every season of The Walking Dead walks a tightrope line between staying true to the source material – Robert Kirkman’s bestselling Image Comics series – and inventing fresh developments in order to keep things interesting for even the most well-versed comic book readers. When the show returns for the second half of season 9 next month, it’ll be time to tackle the popular Whisperers arc from the page, and showrunner Angela Kang has assured us that it won’t follow all the same beats as the source material that inspired it.
While speaking with Deadline, Kang explained that the TWD writers always attempt to hit the major moments from the comic books that either they expect the fans will want to see or that they want to keep in there, but how they get to these moments is what changes with the medium.
“As with every season of the show, there’s a certain amount of stuff from the comic that we follow relatively faithfully, but really more in terms of orange cones in the stories, is kind of how we think about it. Like, oh here are these moments that we want to try to adapt, but a lot of times the routes that we take go into different directions.”
A lot of TWD‘s major changes from the comics are to do with which characters remain or exit. Sometimes they’re motivated by the actors wishing to move on – for instance, Lauren Cohan’s scheduling conflicts forcing Maggie to be written out this season – or to expand the narrative in new directions, like Andrew Lincoln leaving the series to star in a trilogy of TV movies. However, other times the writers have initiated the changes, such as the Terminus arc, Carl’s death and the creation of Daryl Dixon.
Another is the big time jump that occurred after Rick’s exit halfway through season 9A. As such, with the storyline now set six years ahead of where it was in the comics, the Whisperers arc will play out a little differently on screen, with Kang promising some key “deviations.”
“The array of characters and the timeline that we’re in are completely different, and so there are obviously going to be some deviations. So, there are some familiar markers to people who know the comics very well, but I’ll say that there are some other surprises coming up along the way as well.”
We’ll see what shocking twists and turns The Walking Dead has in store for us when season 9 returns on Sunday, February 10th.