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For TV Horror, Many Pros To ‘The Con’

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Everyone knows about San Diego’s annual popculture
geekfest, the original Comic Con, but
its New York sibling has grown into a powerful
platform for the TV business. And no genre
benefited this year more than horror, with
packed sessions for The Walking Dead and
Sleepy Hollow headlining the bill.

Attendance at this year’s edition reached
133,000 (many of those in costume), up from
just 33,000 in 2006 for the four-day confab in
the cavernous Javits Center.

Taking advantage of the pre-Halloween perch,
Starz mounted an ambitious promotion at a
townhouse near the Javits where Sleep No More,
the Off-Broadway show that reworks Macbeth, is
performed. The event was a promo stunt for the
pay network’s upcoming pirate series Black Sails,
which is a prequel to Treasure Island. Panels also
focused on broadcast series Marvel’s Agents of
, Person of Interest and The Following.

The fans were the sole focus throughout,
with huge bursts of applause and whoops
replacing deep thoughts. (The Con could never
be mistaken for TED.) The San Diego ritual is so
fan-driven that unmet expectations from highstakes
series or films can taint a property’s
early marketing campaigns. But those on hand
in New York to promote wore the responsibility
lightly. Jeph Loeb, head of TV for Marvel, led
fans in a chant of “Coulson lives!” before an advance
screening of the show’s Oct. 15 episode.
Andrew Lincoln of The Walking Dead eagerly
signed a leg tattoo one male fan had gotten of
his character. Michael Cudlitz, a new cast member
in the just-launched season four, posed as
a fan and profanely heckled his castmates from
the audience before jumping onstage.

Though held on a smaller stage, the Sleepy
panel also whipped up a frenzy. Clips
from previous episodes of the Fox series were
screened, along with a rough cut of the first
eight minutes of an episode set to air Nov. 4.

Sleepy Hollow executive producer Len Wiseman
said New York Comic Con was an ideal
place to spread the word about the show, which
was this season’s first pickup by a network. “I
feel like it’s as relevant as you can get,” he said.
“This show has everything from mythology to a
twisted sort of time travel aspect to it, the creature
aspect, horror, fantasy. It has a lot of things
that I think are sort of the core of what Comic
Con is all about.”