Kurt Sutter doesn’t do well with big crowds. So the idea of Comic-Con, despite his wife Katey Sagal’s vast experience at the event (for Futurama), was daunting. “The thought of going down there is a little overwhelming for me because I just know how huge it’s become, but last year was really my first year down there and it was pretty amazing, pretty overwhelming. The only thing I’ve been to which was somewhat similar — I’m a big gaming guy, so I’ve gone to E3 a couple of times — and it is obviously a fraction of what Comic-Con is,” he says. “The turnout for the panel and all the fans, it was just interesting to see the in-person personification of that kind of fan feedback. You obviously get it on Twitter, and obviously people are huge fans of the show, but to see all of that energy in one room is pretty awesome.”
And Sutter and the cast of Sons of Anarchy are looking to do it all again this year with their Sunday panel, at which Sutter says, they’ll hopefully preview the first few minutes of the show’s next season, premiering Sept. 6. In a chat with EW to gear up for the event, Sutter talked more about his Comic-Con memories and what fans can expect from the new season.ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Sons is definitely not the type of show you’d expect to see highlighted at Comic-Con, but yet it does incredibly well with the crowds. Does that surprise you?
KURT SUTTER: That’s part of the issue purists have with Comic-Con. Where do you draw the line? It’s certainly become this launching pad and marketing tool for TV and movies that have absolutely nothing to do with comics whatsoever. Aside from that, I guess I was surprised in terms of how devoted the fanbase of the show is and how people who wouldn’t normally go to Comic-Con show up in San Diego just to see [Sons] and sit in on that. I guess I was surprised to a certain extent at the crossover and the people who were there whether it was sci-fi or the goth-horror component. Those people ultimately went to the panel as well aside, from people who were there for the show. We did a signing at a Harley dealership up in northern Cali. They were expecting maybe 1,500 people, and, literally, by the end of the day, there were 7,000 people that came. After that, I wasn’t surprised at the dedication of the fanbase.
What can fans expect from this year’s panel?
The plan is to present the first five or six minutes of the premiere. People will get excited about that. Obviously at the Q&A, I give out as much information as I can in terms of enticing people without necessarily spoiling the experience of finding out the information as they watch it. It will be Charlie [Hunnam], myself, Katey and Ron [Pearlman]. The four of us will be down there. From the opening of the premiere, people will have sense of how the series is going to begin this season and hopefully that will inspire some Q&A from that.
You’re a fan-friendly EP and interact with them a lot on Twitter. Do you get anxious about Q&As anymore?
I like doing them. Sometimes I’m probably a little bit too forthcoming, and I should probably be a little more reserved, but I think for the most part I’m very aware that I’m not writing this show in a vacuum. That it is my creative vision and something that I’m inspired to do. I’m very cognizant that I’m doing this for an audience and the primary goal of the show is to tell interesting and compelling stories that engage people and entertain them. If I wasn’t getting the feedback from the fans, I wouldn’t be giving it out. It’s a real give and take thing. If I felt like I wasn’t getting a response, I wouldn’t be wasting the time or energy trying to drum it up. I’m really just responding to what I’m being given — the excitement and the desire fans have about wanting to get information for the show. It’s a long time between our seasons so that’s really the impetus for all of this stuff. We’re releasing these app-isodes [mini-episodes available via the Sons of Anarchy mobile app] that are going to take place over the time the guys were in jail. That’s about giving the fans what I feel they’ve continuously asked for and wanting to give them something to look forward to going into the new season.
Will the appisodes affect the new season?
Creatively, I thought we had a perfect scenario because they were in jail for 14 months. So we’re going to show a couple of scenes of what happened in jail and use that information to set up the new season. But it’s the kind of thing that if you don’t see them, you’ll still understand it when we get into the season. But if you did, you have a little bit more background information and an insider advantage as to what will unfold in season 4.
Speaking of season 4, what can you say about what your goal is this season?
It’s a continuation of the mythology. A lot of what happens this season is a direct result narratively and emotionally of what happened in Ireland in season 3 and how that bounces off of Jax, Gemma and Clay. If we’re looking at this show as being 6 or 7 seasons, I’d say we’re coming into Act 2 here, in terms of setting up, emotionally, the bigger arc of the series in terms of where it all might go. I think we get a taste of that this season — where it’s going to go.
And I heard there are a number of new foes for the club this season — a few new law enforcement officers, for one. What can you tease about the trouble ahead?
I think the threats are always going to be what they normally are: Law enforcement, rival crime organizations. That’s the nature of the outlaw world. But I think this season, to a certain extent, the greatest foe the club will have is the club. It’s about the internal foes, which I think are much worse than the external foes this season.
(Kevin Sullivan contributed to this report.)