Confab feeds smallscreen sect’s growing appetite

Comic-Con 2012

Nothing tears a nerd away from TiVo like Comic-Con. Despite the event’s “Star Trek”-worshipping origins, Hollywood has long ruled the roost, shacking up in the San Diego Convention Center’s 6,000-seat Hall H to show upcoming genre offerings.

Every year, TV gains more ground as fans flock to panels, encroaching on turf once exclusively held for films, to the extent that SDCC is hosting more TV panels this year than in previous sessions, with an entire day of programming in Hall H dedicated to the smallscreen sect.

In many ways, TV better lends itself to a fan following, courting and building an avid audience over multiple seasons, instead of trying to instill hype that will fade as soon as the film comes and goes. Panels can include long-running shows, freshman newbies and cable cult favorites. (AMC’s “Breaking Bad” will be present for the first time this year.)

“We look at Comic-Con as the central event of our calendar year,” says “The Walking Dead” exec producer Glen Mazzara. “We enjoy the fans and connect with them. In return for their loyalty, we give them something that blows them away.”

For TV fans, Comic-Con offers a chance to connect with the talent behind shows that have been part of their household for years.

As “Phineas and Ferb” co-creator Dan Povenmire says, “In our first year here, we had a huge room booked, and we were afraid of not being able fill it. Right before our first panel, I peeked out and saw a line of 30 people a half-hour before the show. I thought it was great, until I saw that the line had a break and that people were waiting around the block. I had to admit, I got a little misty.”

For those on the creative or business end, the event provides invaluable feedback and publicity opportunities for new or existing shows.

“Comic-Con allows you to get to know your fanbase,” says Carmi Zlotnik, managing director for Starz Media. “If you can resonate with them, it’s like ripples on the pond. It emanates from them and affects other people because they are so vocal. It’s great for the creative process.”

“Networks are now really coming out of the upfronts and starting to promote their properties on-air almost immediately,” adds WBTV chief marketing officer Lisa Gregorian. “Comic-Con gives you a chance at an advanced screening. It’s a symbiotic relationship. The feedback we get helps with the show’s initial introduction into the marketplace.”

Comic-Con 2012
Fanboy flight fight | Confab feeds smallscreen sect’s growing appetite | Heroes emerge in catering to the nerd herd
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