By Megan Daley
Updated October 10, 2015 at 12:00 PM EDT
Credit: ABC Family

The Shadowhunters panel crowd at New York Comic-Con got a sneak peek at six minutes of the upcoming pilot, giving fans a small taste of what they can expect when the show premieres on Jan. 12. Namely: Clary Fray’s introduction to the mysterious world of the Shadowhunters, the Pandemonium Club, and, of course, Jace Wayland, with plenty of butt-kicking and Seraph blade-wielding to whet fans’ appetites for what’s to come.

Following the clip, the panelists – Alberto Rosende, Dominic Sherwood, Katherine McNamara, Emeraude Toubia, Matthew Daddario, Harry Shum Jr., and Isaiah Mustafa, along with McG, Ed Decter, and author Cassandra Clare — took the stage to chat all about the upcoming television adaptation of Clare’s The Mortal Instruments.

“For me, a huge part about this project that’s exciting is seeing what the fans think of everything,” Clare said. “They haven’t seen it, I haven’t seen it, so we’re going to experience it together.”

Clare asked fans to “keep an open mind,” while executive producer Decter assured the crowd it was the creative team’s intention to “honor” Clare’s work — and slip in a few surprises along the way. So, expect possibly a few new characters – some from Clare’s previous work. “What we tried to do was honor everything Cassie created,” Decter said. “But still throw in some surprises even for those real Mortal Instruments’ fans.”

According to director McG, it was important to “get it right,” and a major part of that was insuring the casting was spot-on, especially the role of heroine Clary, played by McNamara.

“I love Clary because she has this blend of strength and vulnerability,” McNamara said. “And she has a huge journey that only barely begins in the first season and I’m really excited to share it with you.”

Other takeaways from the panel:

  • Clary’s love interest, Jace (played by Sherwood) turns up the arrogance in this adaptation.
  • While Simon (Rosende) spends most of the first season still pining for his BFF, Clary, there might be a brief moment between Simon and Isabelle (Toubia) fans can look forward to. And according to Daddario, those hoping for a little Alec-Magnus action could be in luck. (“If you’re a fan of Malec, you might be happy,” he said.)
  • The book to season ratio isn’t exactly one to one: “We are not following the books one to one with the seasons. However, what we’re doing is we’re borrowing. We may set something up that we know happens in season 6, but start setting it up now,” Decter said. “We borrow from all the books and we’ll be tracking along with the major giant story points that fans want to see. And then the new viewers, we very carefully get there so they understand what’s going on. They don’t have to be a super fan to enjoy the show.”
  • Sherwood’s experience working on 2014’s Vampire Academy helped prepare him for the Shadowhunters enthusiastic fandom. (There were quite a few teary-eyed fans that stepped up to the microphone to ask questions to the cast and creative team).
  • Mustafa – who steps up as Clary’s pseudo-stepfather– took on the role of father figure to the young cast, who bonded early on in Toronto with the help of a game called “Werewolf.”
  • According to McNamara, she has the worst bruises of the entire cast – although, she does bruise easily.
  • Daddario’s arrow skills might just rival those of Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen. “They are vastly superior,” he said.
  • If Toubia could take any prop from set, it would, of course, be her signature whip. As for McNamara? She would rather have a stele than a Seraph blade, much to the surprise of Sherwood.
  • Shadowhunters will stay true to book as far as Simon’s heritage (he is of Jewish descent).
  • For those who want to see Chairman Meow and Church: “Stay tuned,” said Decter.

Shadowhunters (Book Series)

  • Book
  • Cassandra Clare