In recent years there have been rumblings about a slight decrease in participation from movie studios at Comic-Con. But throw a stick (or graphic novel) pretty much anywhere in the San Diego Convention Center this week, and you'll likely connect with some sort of TV show presentation. If you're one of the 125,000 attendees, expect a slew of panels for returning genre hits (Falling Skies, Supernatural, Grimm, Game of Thrones, Teen Wolf, The Walking Dead, Warehouse 13, etc.); new genre series hoping to get some heat (including ABC's 666 Park Avenue, NBC's Revolution and The CW's Arrow and Beauty and the Beast); old favorites (Firefly, now seen in repeats on Science, celebrates its 10th anniversary — of both its premiere and cancellation — with a reunion panel that includes Joss Whedon and Nathan Fillion); animated fare (everything from Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Tron: Uprising to Annoying Orange and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic); comedies such as The Big Bang Theory, Community and Childrens Hospital; and those miscellaneous non-genre misfits (to wit: Dexter, Glee, Homeland and Strike Back).
By screening its entire pilot, a show like the aforementioned Arrow, based on the DC Comics superhero Green Arrow, is aiming straight at its target audience. "This is the first time the character's ever gonna be seen in this grounded and dark place," says exec producer Andrew Kreisberg, a veteran of Fringe and Warehouse 13. "And I hope our enthusiasm to see the material done right will resonate with the fans down there." (A comic-book preview giveaway is another part of Arrow's plans for the Con.)
Already established fans will be lining up for the return of ABC's Once Upon a Time, including Lana Parrilla's Twitter followers who, in honor of her Evil Queen character, are known as the Evil Regals. "It's just become this huge cult following, which is amazing," says Parrilla. "And a lot of them have said, 'Lana, we can't wait to see you there,' so I have a feeling a lot of Evil Regals will be attending Comic-Con this year." But unlike last year, when she could walk around in relative anonymity, the beloved Parrilla will not be shopping on the Con floor for her nephews.
There's no doubt that Liam McIntyre, the lead of Starz's Spartacus, will be there. "When I was first testing for [the role]," says McIntyre, a self-described "huge nerd," "I remember [reading] the fact that I would by contract have to go to Comic-Con. And that was probably the most excited I was about any part of that contract, which was weird [because] I probably should have been excited about the money or something." McIntyre, a devoted gamer, is also excited that Ubisoft is demo-ing Spartacus Legends, its new game based on the epic series, at the Starz booth.
For those who can't make it to San Diego (in other words, most of us), more than a few TV outlets are providing wall-to-wall coverage. Comic-Con mainstay G4 will be broadcasting six hours, including guest-hosting stints on Attack of the Show from Chris Hardwick (Friday, July 13 at 7/6c) and Torchwood's John Barrowman (Saturday, July 14 at 4/3c). Meanwhile, Spike TV presents Comic-Con All Access Live (Friday, 4/3c), a three-hour marathon that will feature filmmaker (and überfanboy) Kevin Smith as moderator of a "Comic-Con Bonus Round" discussion. And if you want your Con news while still being able to watch Snooki & JWOWW, turn to MTV for news "break-ins" Thursday through Sunday.
Amid the costumes, collectibles and media chaos will be a bittersweet final panel for Fringe — in cavernous Hall H this time—which ends its run this upcoming season. "Comic-Con has been so good to us over the years," says John Noble, who plays Walter Bishop on the Fox drama. "Going back this time, [there] will really be a sense of celebration because I'm fairly sure the main reason we're there for a fifth season is because of fan support. And so we'll be down there in the heartland of the people who were really noisy and said we want the show to have another season to finish up the story."