Film and TV creators get 'to the core of first adapters'

The show’s called Comic-Con Intl., but A-list Hollywood talent such as Ang Lee, James Cameron, Hilary Swank, Lucy Liu and Ben Affleck made it seem more like Sundance than San Diego.

Annual four-day show, which draws more than 50,000 fans of comics, sci-fi, fantasy, gaming, animation and film, is an increasingly popular spot for Hollywood studios and talent to create buzz with a knowledgeable and loyal audience.

“It’s about the comics lifestyle, not just the comics themselves,” said Albie Hecht, president of cable net TNN, on hand to promote “Stripperella,” an animation project starring Pamela Anderson and created by comics legend Stan Lee. “It’s a place to reach right to the core of first adapters.”

Saturday alone saw Paramount, Fox, Warner Bros., New Line, Universal and Fox trot out the talent to present never-before-seen photos and clips and answer questions from the audience. Directors Lee and Cameron delighted a crowd of thousands with photos from Lee’s still-shooting “Hulk” and a clip from the Cameron-produced Steven Soderbergh sci-fi flick “Solaris” that came “straight out of the Avid.” Bryan Singer flew in from Vancouver, where he is helming “X-Men 2,” to present a trailer for the film and tease fans with hints of info about the pic.

Affleck, starring in the superhero actioner “Daredevil,” said it’s important to show that the filmmakers care as much about these properties as the fans do, emphasizing the importance of the comicbook crowd.

Projects that have no direct connection to comics beyond a shared pop sensibility, such as ABC’s “Alias,” are increasingly making a splash at Comic-Con. The Emmy-nommed show’s creator and executive producer J.J. Abrams says Comic-Con is a fun way to connect directly with the audience. Coming here “shows people and fans we really care about this stuff,” he said.

The world’s pop culture converged in the vendor and exhibitor booths on the convention floor. American comics publishers such as DC Comics were on display near booths from publishers promoting a new wave of translated Japanese comics, called manga, that retain the right-to-left reading format. Among them: Raijin Comics, Gutsoon! Entertainment’s weekly anthology magazine; Viz’s Shonen Jump magazine; and Tokyopop’s runaway manga and animation hits GTO and Initial D.

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