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When The Walking Dead launches its ninth season Oct. 7, it’s coming with a fresh coat of paint.
Not only will the AMC zombie drama leap forward several months into the future following the end of “All-Out War,” necessitating some significant changes to the various castmembers in the process (we see you, one-eyed Father Gabriel), but one of the most enduring aspects of the series will be in for a full overhaul: the opening credits sequence. For the first time since the pilot, The Walking Dead is doing away with the way it previously presented the titles in favor of something completely new.
In past seasons, the Walking Dead title sequence featured photographs of certain characters, as well as actual weapons, locations and iconography associated with the show’s vast cast. The details changed from season to season, though the essential spine of the idea always remained.
For season nine, the sequence has changed completely. For one thing, it’s animated, like a painting come to life. It’s dominated by simple hues: black and white, mostly, with splashes of red, and the occasional burst of green. Ravens fly throughout, signaling its Edgar Allan Poe inspiration. Haunting, surreal imagery emerges throughout the sequence, like a skull skewered by a pitchfork wrapped in vines. Familiar images still abound, like Daryl Dixon’s crossbow, Michonne’s katana and more. There’s a sense of civilization returning from the dead, even while the dead themselves are never far behind.
Watch the title sequence in the video below.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, new Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang credits the idea for a new title sequence to the person who previously held her position: “It was Scott Gimple who floated the idea: ‘With a new chapter of the story, do you want to think about new titles?’ And I said, ‘Yes! That’s very cool.'”
Kang says several companies vied for the job, with discussions covering the various thematic ideas she wanted to express in the sequence: “I had very long conversations with title designers about the themes we’re playing with. The feel of the season has elements of the Western genre. We’re paying homage to some of the iconic moments from the graphic novel. Life is coming out of death. Nature’s taking over, while other things are crumbling.”
In the end, Huge Designs submitted the winning take on the opening credits, thanks to a vision that Kang describes as “graphic novel inspired.”
“It had such a strong design element that really stood out to me,” she says. “The way they were pitching using this monochromatic palette but with flashes of color really felt true to the roots of this show.”
Despite the stylistic overhaul, Kang still wanted the opening credits to feature familiar imagery for the Walking Dead audience. What’s more, she wanted it to become an interactive experience, building in elements that might go over some viewers’ heads, but die-hard fans will pick right up.
“We had fun burying the iconic objects from the show into the titles. Some of them, we made very obvious. Others? They’re more like Easter eggs for people to go around looking for. That’s part of what’s fun for me when I watch this type of show: looking for the hidden clues in things. We felt it was a nice microcosm of what some of the fun of the show is for people. There’s what’s there on the surface, and then there’s what you’ll find if you dig around in the dark corners.”
What do you think of the new Walking Dead title sequence? Sound off in the comments below, and keep checking THR.com/WalkingDead for more coverage.
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