A midseason hit for The CW, the Vertigo adaptation "iZombie" came into Comic-Con 2015 in San Diego with a new fall premier date and a little bit of Season 2 swagger.
To celebrate the success of the take on Chris Roberson and Mike Allred's comic series, series executive producers Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright were joined for a panel by star Rose McIver and cast members Rahul Kohli, Malcolm Goodwin, Robert Buckley, Aly Michalka and David Anders.
After a sizzle reel of Season 1 was shown, moderator Jeff Jensen brought out the creative team. The conversation started with Thomas and Ruggiero-Wright and what they saw in the "iZombie" comic. "The head of Warner Bros. development came and put the comic in front of me. She said, 'Look at this cover. The CW needs the next great female hero. It needs the next Buffy, the next Veronica Mars. This is it, and you need to write it,'" Thomas recalled. "Before doing this show, I never got to have much blood or stunts or fight scenes or special effects. It's fun to do a genre piece. I'm used to doing two people in a room talking so Diane and I can be witty."
"I'm a big fan of going into these things blind," McIver said of her taking on the role of Liv Moore, adding that she rarely has time to prepare deeply to take on the various personalities of the brains she eats. But in Season 2, she'll be sharpening up her guitar skills amongst other new skills with new personalities.
As the new season gets underway, McIver joked, "Everyone loves Raymond, but everyone hates Liv." Thomas said that the cast is divided and healing after the shocking events of Season 1. "It's going to be a depressing art film next year," he joked about characters like Payton being on a spiritual walkabout to deal with the revelation that her best friend is undead.
Villain Blaine will return, though no longer as a zombie. "He's new yet, and I hope I can continue to be aloud to be him for a while...guys please don't kill me," Anders said. "We're humanizing Blaine, quite literally."
Thomas said of the villain side of the equation, Season 2 will see the CEO of Max Rager following up on his promise to take care of Seattle's zombie problem. "It will make strange bedfellows out of Blaine and Liv who are both concerned about the dwindling zombie population in Seattle," he said, noting that they loved watching McIver and Anders together in Season 1 but could never come up with more reasons to put them in the same scene until now.
Buckley joked that his character Major needed some darker storylines in Season 2 before it was pointed out that he spent most of the first year getting the crap kicked out of him. "I actually see a bit of myself in Major because it's like 'A for effort! But not so much for getting results," he said, though it was a relief to get a win in the season finale. "Good things come to those who wait, and in this case 'good things' are zombie massacres."
Kohli said that his breakout fan favorite character of Ravi was very much unlike him. "He's such a lovely ball of sunshine, and I treat that with absolute suspicion," he said. The actor said that he loves the fan response of jokes that he make become a "were-terrier" akin to some of the original "iZombie" comic characters, but that kind of move is not on tap for the future. Ruggiero-Wright explained that expanding out to other monsters besides zombies would be too costly for the show. However, the producers did call out Roberson and Allred in the audience for a round of applause.
A surprise return for Season 2, Michalka said that she was happy to come back and possibly to continue Payton's romance with Ravi -- a couple the audience decided should be known as "Pavi."
Asked by a fan whose brain they'd like to eat, McIver said the accused killer in the popular NPR podcast "Serial" to know the truth. "I'd eat the brain of Bieber -- and my stock answer is because I'd like to see what he's about plus he'd be dead!" Anders joked before saying he wished Justin Bieber no ill will. Kohli said he'd like to eat the brains of Daniel Day Lewis to be able to take on his acting prowess.
McIver said she has been talking to Thomas and Ruggiero-Wright about having Liv eat the brain of a native New Zealander like herself so she could use her own accent in Season 2.
A fan asked how a song from Dead Boy & The Elephant Men and Dax Riggs was chosen for the show's opening titles. "It was during the pilot that I had that in mind for a main title sequence...and the trend has been away from doing main titles for just a title card, but I wanted one because we have such a complicated show that I wanted to give a version of the premise," Thomas explained. "And I was playing that song around the cast during the pilot. It was the idea well before we were picked up."
Back to Season 2 talk, Thomas said that he thinks Ravi will be more let off the hook with Liv's friends for keeping her zombie secret since he was both her doctor and her friend. Michalka said the real feelings of betrayal will be centered on Liv who kept this from them even though she was the close confidant of Payton and Major.
Thomas wrapped the panel by revealing the first few brains Liv would eat going into Season 2, saying: "Episode 1, Grumpy Old Man brain...Episode 2, Fratboy brain...Episode 3, Real House Wife of Seattle brain."