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With NY Comic Con kicking off, it's (Frank) Miller time

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Miller_l It’s been the calm before the storm(troopers) at high noon here at New York Comic Con. But right about now, exhibitors are bracing themselves for a frequently malodorous cloud of human haze — a.k.a. the “general population,” God bless ’em — about to enter this veritable Thunderdome. If you recall, the Con’s New York City debut last February was besmirched by a grossly underestimated nerd surge. City officials wearing Fire Marshall doodads were called in. Panelists got shut out from entering the premises. Message boards roared in protest. A big fiasco? Totally. But with one mammoth upside: a pivotal growth spurt. This year features many more booths, real-life Hollywood (genre) studios staking out a presence, and even a Playmate or two. Look for PopWatch’s coverage over the weekend, as we seek scoop from such attendees as Stephen Colbert (who’s plugging his Tek Jansen sci-fi adventure title), Hostel 2 director Eli Roth, Heroes‘ Hayden Panettiere, and Comic Con sine qua non Kevin Smith.

Some sneak previews:

1. Rumors abound that NY Con’s organizers will announce that next year’s fest will make a play to rival the mother of all spandex conventions, San Diego’s Comic Con, by not only making a move to the less bone-chilling month of April, but also occupying NYC’s entire, colossal Javitz Center.

2. EW’s own Marc Bernardin is too modest to shamelessly plug his extracurricular activities, so, heck, we will: Come June 20, WildStorm will publish The Highwaymen, Marc’s five-part comic (co-written with Adam Freeman and illustrated by Lee Garbett) about two mercenary-courier dudes — one of whom is awesomely named Ichabod. Be sure to show Marc some sugar when he appears on two panels: Saturday’s “How Comics Boom is Changing Entertainment” from 5-6pm, and Sunday’s Wildstorm panel from 12-1pm.

3. Comics demigod Frank Miller (Sin City, 300), currently recouperating from serious hip and leg injuries, won’t appear at Con as scheduled on Saturday to plug his upcoming project, The Spirit, which he’s writing and directing. However, the show will go on without him, and Miller (pictured) gave EW’s Steve Daly a little taste of what to expect. Take it away, Frank:

“I’ve written a first draft of the screenplay. I’m working on the second draft, and it’s shaping up really good. It’s taken a while to get over the initial jitters, but it always does.The main focus I have is to write and direct a Spirit that captures a lot of the flavor of [creator Will] Eisner… but that doesn’t feel like nostalgia at all. Spirit fans often develop a rather cloudy memory of it, and think of it as this happy-go-lucky strip.

“The character has a terrifying side to him. This is a man who’s died and come back to life. So it twists into fantasy. And of course there are tons of women in it. There have to be — it’s The Spirit. They’re all in love with him, and he’s in love with all of them. You might say he’s a bit of a slut.”

Huzzah! As for the character of The Spirit‘s sidekick Ebony White — now considered an embarassing stereotype? “Ebony’s gone. Ebony was simply a bad idea. Will Eisner was a genius, but even geniuses have their bad days.”