'The Walking Dead' companion series to be standalone, Season 4b is comics-heavy

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Don't expect much crossover between "The Walking Dead" and its planned companion series. According to co-executive producer Greg Nicotero, the new AMC project will be its own beast when it gets made.

"We're sort of treating the spinoff as a completely separate entity," Nicotero tells Channel Guide Magazine. "That was something that was very, very important when the notion of a companion series was even brought up. Many of us, the actors and the executive producers, wanted to make sure that anything we did, we didn't want it to diminish our story, our storyline, our characters and the momentum that we have. So the intent is that it is going to be its own standalone world."

Nicotero directs episode 9 of "The Walking Dead" Season 4, the first episode back from the midseason break. The episode was written by comics creator Robert Kirkman, and Nicotero says it's among the closest episodes to the comics that's been made.

"It's probably the closest adaptation to two issues of the comic book that we've ever done. I'm dying for people to see the next eight episodes because there's so much good stuff!" Nicotero teases, seemingly confirming that the recently released trailer is in fact partially set in Hershel's home.

According to Nicotero, the tendency to pull scenes out of "The Walking Dead" comics is something fans can attribute to showrunner Scott Gimple. "There've been times when we've pulled opened the comic books and referenced exact frames, and I love that Scott puts just enough of a twist on it where it still feels fresh. People that know the comic book will know exactly where it comes from, and people who don't know the comic book are still getting something cool," he says.

Nicotero also seemingly resolves the mystery of whether Judith died in the midseason finale or not. "It's clear that when [Rick and Carl] walk up to the baby seat and there's blood splattered on it, there's a reason for them to react the way that they did," he says. RIP, Lil' A**-Kicker.

"The Walking Dead" Season 4 returns to AMC on Feb. 9 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Photo/Video credit: AMC