Natalie Barton, left, and Christian Blakesley strike poses in costume during New York Comic Con, held at the Javits Center, Oct. 12, 2012. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)Link
Thousands of anime, video game, film, TV and comics fans gather to see the latest in pop culture at New York Comic Con, at the Javits Center on Oct. 12, 2012. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)Link
Sam Forsythe, left, and Joe Lento attend New York Comic Con in costume on Oct. 12, 2012. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)Link
Eric Staller pretends to fly while arriving at New York Comic Con at the Javits Center in New York on Oct. 12, 2012. (Justin Lane / European Pressphoto Agency)Link
Pat Covey, left, Patrick Lochelt and John St. Pierre arrive at New York Comic Con on Oct. 12, 2012. (Justin Lane / European Pressphoto Agency)Link
People in costume arrive for New York Comic Con on Oct. 12, 2012. (Justin Lane / European Pressphoto Agency)Link
A man in skeleton makeup waits to enter New York Comic Con on Oct. 12, 2012. (Justin Lane / European Pressphoto Agency)Link
Stuart Newman wears an elaborate costume while working the floor at New York Comic Con on Oct. 12, 2012. (Justin Lane / European Pressphoto Agency)Link
A display at New York Comic Con on Oct. 12, 2012. (Daniel Zuchnik / Getty Images)Link
Brandy Parker stands on a wall outside New York Comic Con on Oct. 12, 2012. (Justin Lane / European Pressphoto Agency)Link
Starting Thursday, an estimated 130,000 fans will descend on the cavernous Javits Center on Manhattan’s far west side to attend New York Comic-Con, a four-day confab featuring some 400 panels, screenings and special events.
Although it began as a more narrowly focused celebration of comic books, like its behemoth West Coast rival, San Diego’s Comic Con International, NYCC is increasingly dominated by pop culture – especially television.
“I definitely have seen a really strong increase in the TV presence over the past couple of years,” said Kim Mueller, content and talent director at ReedPOP, the company that produces the 7-year-old event. “This year I would say we have double the content that we’ve had in the past. We are working with almost every single major network.”
Reflecting the increasingly expansive definition of “geek culture,” this year’s lineup includes panels on shows as wide-ranging as “The League,” “Cosmos,” “Falling Skies,” “Once Upon a Time,” “Teen Wolf,” “The Pete Holmes Show” and “Comedy Bang! Bang!” (What? No “Nashville”?)
Once again, the panel for AMC’s zombie hit “The Walking Dead,” which has its fourth season premiere Sunday on AMC, is one of the weekend’s hottest tickets. Another panel will commemorate the 10th anniversary of Robert Kirkman’s comic book series.
“There are a lot of shows with no connection even to genre that show up at Comic Con,” said executive producer Gale Anne Hurd. “’The Walking Dead’ actually started as a comic book, so it’s the perfect project to celebrate at Comic Con.”
In an indication of mainstream television’s embrace of genre fare, this weekend’s confab also will showcase two of the fall’s biggest success stories, Fox’s genre mash-up, “Sleepy Hollow,” and ABC’s “Avengers” spin-off, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
Both are hits for their ratings-challenged networks, and both feature creators with solid fanboy credentials. “Sleepy Hollow’s” team of producers includes Len Wiseman, director of the “Underworld” film franchise, as well as “Star Trek” writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman.
“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” meanwhile, is the brainchild of “Buffy” auteur Joss Whedon and is the first live-action series from Marvel.
Jeph Loeb, head of Marvel Television, thinks of the event as “a way of saying thank you” rather than a promotional platform. “Really we’re not there to hype what we have. Most of our fans already know what we have,” he said. “Because you’ve come to the show, we have an opportunity to share with you some stuff that no one else is going to be able to get to see.”
This year, that includes a chance to see “Lola,” Agent Phil Coulson’s car, up close.
Ronald Moore, one of the most prolific and acclaimed sci-fi writers in the TV game and veteran of the beloved “Battlestar Galactica,” will appear at New York Comic Con for the first time to promote his upcoming series, “Outlander.” Adapted from Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling historical novels, the project began filming this week in Scotland and is set to premiere on the premium network in 2014.
“The ex-fan part of me can always touch into what it was like to talk to people behind the scenes, and so I have a great empathy for that connection,” said Moore, “and it’s fun to talk about what I do.”
Current hits might rule the roost at Comic Con, but there’s also plenty of room for nostalgia. A Saturday panel will celebrate 50 years of “Doctor Who,” and the gathering will wrap up with a dual appearance from “X Files” stars Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny.
The Mulder-Scully reunion is scheduled to wrap by 5 p.m. EST — just in time to get home for “The Walking Dead.”
Click through the gallery above to see images from last year’s NYCC.
— Meredith Blake
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