Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman says the upcoming spin-off (still no title yet ... and just that one same image so far ...) "is not going to relate to the comics at all," but will expand the universe of the TV show in multiple ways.
Entertainment Weekly reports from Kirkman's appearance at a panel on "Creative Activism" at South by Southwest yesterday:
"From the beginning of the show one thing we've heard is, 'What's going on over here or there.' So the intent of the new show is to expand that world and show another corner of the United States and what's happening there. The timeline is taking place a little bit earlier timeframe than the original show. Rick Grimes woke up from a coma and was like, 'Oh, man, zombies, weird!' We're going to possibly see that unfold a little more in the other show. But I wouldn't call it 'prequel' because the entirety of the show is not going take place before [The Walking Dead]. It will eventually form a path running concurrently."
He also noted that each show will stand on its own (i.e., one need not have seen the original show to get hooked on the companion show), though old-school viewers can expect some fan service in the new series.
"One thing that we're doing with the new show that we're trying with everything is it's not derivative," he said. "It's standing on its own. You can watch it by itself and get your own experience. But if you are watching both shows there are things like, 'Oh they discovered this, or they discovered that in a different way.' There are a lot of things about The Walking Dead world these characters have to learn or figure out to get by. And there may be some things that are discovered in the companion show that haven't been discovered in the other show yet. So there could be like a thing where, 'Oh, they encountered a zombie in season 4 in The Walking Dead that could do this and now we know why that was.' So we're going to be doing things like that are going to be pretty cool, but for the most part [the two shows] should be able to stand alone."