TWD Universe chief content officer Scott Gimple is sinking his teeth into Tales of the Walking Dead, the franchise's first anthology spin-off series that will tell "very different" zombie tales set in the same world as The Walking Dead. Announced by AMC Networks in September as an "episodic anthology with individual episodes or arcs of episodes focused on new or existing characters, backstories or other stand-alone experiences," these hourlong episodes will resurrect the dead when Tales turns back the clock to the earliest days of the zombie apocalypse and tells new stories from across the Walking Dead timeline and Universe.
"We're working on it. Our operating principle right now is single hours that are very different week to week," Gimple said during a stream on Twitch's TWDUniverse. "We've left the door open to tell longer maybe multi-episode stories in the universe. We want to keep it really flexible. But to start out with, we want a bunch of very different stories where the audience isn't going to know what to expect."
Instead of an American Horror Story-style miniseries that tells a self-contained story per season, often with a recurring cast of actors in different roles, Tales is more like The Twilight Zone: Gimple has equated the anthology spin-off to a grab bag that is even exploring episodes told with animation and music.
Characters who are dead in present-day Walking Dead — now set about 12 years out from the onset of the zombie apocalypse — will return for prequels and other tales that will flesh out characters like the fan-favorite Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz), and characters who survive the flagship show's upcoming Final Season could live on in Tales.
"It goes back to those questions people have been asking about different situations, or what happened with different characters that we have had already, and then things that are just not related to anything we've told," Gimple said. "That's the kind of thing we want to do. We're working on it hard."
During the annual Walking Dead Universe Preview Special in September, the series creator revealed that in Tales there are "going to be stories told with old favorites, there are also going to be stories told with brand new characters. These stories are from all over the Walking Dead timeline, and all over the Walking Dead Universe. We may be doing different formats and possibly utilizing animation, music, different mediums. We want to surprise people every week with what they will be getting."
In a March update on the currently undated series in development at AMC, Walking Dead creator and executive producer Robert Kirkman said Tales marks "a tremendous opportunity to explore many different aspects of the Walking Dead Universe, to be able to jump forward and backward in time, and also do things that are much different than what we've done on The Walking Dead thus far."
Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD. The Final Season of The Walking Dead premieres Sunday, August 22, on AMC.