L.A.'s Nerdiest Offices
Yes, that's a compliment when talking about these Comic-Con-bound creators of some of Hollywood's most coveted content, all of whom keep their geek chic on display.
ADAM HOROWITZ & EDWARD KITSIS
Creators/executive producers, Once Upon a Time
Horowitz and Kitsis, who met 20 years ago in a screenwriting class at the University of Wisconsin, remember their first writing space: a dental office. The duo -- who will be at Comic-Con for ABC's fairy-tale adventure Once Upon a Time and Disney XD's animated Tron: Uprising -- are best known for their work on Lost and the 2010 film Tron: Legacy but got their start on a Madison, Wis., public-access show, Hot Tonight. "It was produced by a dentist, and we would have writers meetings in this dental conference room. He would run in, take his mask off and say, 'I got a sponsor this week!' " recalls Kitsis, 41. Now they are ensconced in two offices on Burbank's Walt Disney Studios lot, and much as Lost was about dual realities, their individual spaces are similar but different, almost in an alternate-universe way. Each room has pieces from Lost, Tron and their other passion -- music -- but with slight variations, right down to their mouse pads, which display photos of their kids (they have three children between them). The duo write mostly in the 40-year-old Horowitz's room, where he types as Kitsis paces, but the brainstorming happens in Kitsis' office, pictured here. "There's such back-and-forth that we literally could not tell you who came up with what line or idea," says Horowitz. "We're like one person, much to the chagrin of our wives." -- Borys Kit
A Topper to Keep: "I've always loved fairy-tale imagery, and I've always loved Alice in Wonderland in particular," says Kitsis (right) of the prop from Once Upon a Time's "Mad Hatter" episode. "My wife is beginning to call me a hoarder."
Rock 'N' Roll Fan: "If you're around me long enough, I will always speak in weird band metaphors. Music was my first love, and I always wanted to do that," says Kitsis of the Dharma Strat guitar and amp given to him by Damon Lindelof as a Lost series wrap gift. "But the rock-star thing did not pan out."
Yankee Pride: "What I love about baseball is every game is a story," says Horowitz of his poster celebrating the Yankees' 27th World Series title in 2009. "It has unending possibilities."
Greetings From Bruce Springsteen: A birthday gift from Lost co-creator Lindelof, the autographed copy of the Boss' classic album Born to Run shows off Horowitz's inner music geek: "The first script we wrote for Lost was titled 'Born to Run.' "
Sneaker Art: The shoes were made by Supra for a Lost-inspired art show. The piece references a third-season episode that features a show-within-a-show called Expose. "Razzle Dazzle" was an episode catchphrase, "an inside joke that made its way to the screen," says Kitsis. "But the fact that someone would pick that out of all the episodes and make it a shoe? That is more than I could have dreamed of."
Writer-creator-star, The Guild; founder, Geek & Sundry
"I don't know how people work in a sterile, white office," says Day, 33, of her DIY home office on Los Angeles' Miracle Mile, a converted garage that doubles as a production studio. A nerd Oprah of the Internet, Day created and owns The Guild, a web series loosely based on her gaming experience that recently wrapped its fifth season with partners Microsoft and Xbox Live. In April, the Alabama native added network executive to her résumé when she launched the YouTube channel Geek & Sundry, which features seven series Day oversees. Heading into her fifth Comic-Con, Day has gone from peddling bookmarks for her then-unknown series to being lauded by fans and peers. Among them: Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (in which Day had a minor role), who, inspired by Guild, created his own Emmy-winning musical web series, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, in which Day also co-starred. "That's the payoff for working behind a computer 11 months out of the year: I get the reward of having fans tell me face to face that they like me," she says. As she juggles the demands of Geek & Sundry, including writing, filming, acting and promoting her properties, Day -- after saving up "for years" -- finally has her dream office: "All the hats I wear have to translate in this space. There's nothing that this space couldn't potentially be." -- Lesley Goldberg
Sound Decision: The fitted soundproofing ceiling tiles, made of recycled cardboard, were "a very cheap solution to try to make the room studio-worthy," says Day. But "if there's a leaf-blower or dog, we're still screwed."
Retro Chairs: Day had her heart set on pricey movie seating before finding four chairs on Craigslist for nearly nothing and refurbishing them. Everything in her office is on wheels and, with a few easy tweaks, quickly can be transformed into a web-series-ready studio.
Always Game: "I've played more board games in the last year than I have in my whole life," says Day, who with Wil Wheaton hosts the board-game web series TableTop on her YouTube channel. Every game featured on the series instantly has ranked among Amazon's top 10 board games of the week, with some shipping 10,000 units after inclusion.
Pet-Friendly Office: Day's mellow dog, Cubby, has free rein of the office, which also houses a Wii, Xbox, Sega Genesis, guitar and electric violin. Day, who studied violin in college, took it up again for an episode of her video-blog series The Flog.
Seat of Power: The chair from Day's web series Written by a Kid sits beneath a framed album, designed by Joey Spiotto of Gallery 1988, of Whedon's Emmy-winning web series Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, in which Day co-starred with Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion.
Writer/creator/executive producer, The Walking Dead
Kirkman thought he'd be homeless a month after his first Comic-Con in 2000, which he attended to promote his short-lived comic title Battle Pope. That was before the now-33-year-old Kentucky native created Image Comics' The Walking Dead, a monthly black-and-white zombie-apocalypse survival tale that AMC adapted for TV and averaged a record 6.9 million viewers during its second season. The wildly popular series -- in March, Dead editions occupied all 10 slots on The New York Times graphic novel best-seller list -- led to Kirkman becoming a partner in Image Comics, the CEO of his own comics imprint, Skybound, and a Dead executive producer. These days, he has more than 10 comic-book titles in circulation, and his crime caper Thief of Thieves is in development at AMC. "I just bounce around like a schizophrenic fool who doesn't know what he's doing on any given day," says the mild-mannered Kirkman from his Skybound office in Culver City, where he works when not in the Dead writers room in Los Angeles. (He travels to the series' sweltering Atlanta set when episodes he has penned are being filmed.) With the third season set to bow in October, Kirkman, married with two children, ages 3 and 6, is busy prepping for Dead's invasion of Comic-Con, where he'll push merchandise tied to the series' 100th issue and host a handful of comics events, one of which takes place in San Diego's Petco Park: an interactive zombie obstacle course, naturally. -- Lesley Goldb
Hidden Gold: Tucked away in Kirkman's office are his Walking Dead Eisner Award (the Oscars of comics) for best comic and a Wizard Fan Award for best new talent. "I don't like having awards in my office," he says. "I just don't have anywhere else to put them, which is why I try to hide them."
It's All In the Name: Hanging on the walls are two movie posters with titles significant to Kirkman's universe: Boris Karloff's 1936 feature The Walking Dead and the 2006 Mark Wahlberg football pic Invincible, which shares a title with his superhero comic. Says Kirkman: "I feel like it's better than having the real thing. I see that enough."
Glass Throne: "I used to advertise my website with a drawing of me working on the computer while sitting on the toilet," says Kirkman of the image on the etched glass he displays as both a joke and homage to an earlier sensibility. "So I think I've grown up."
Showboard: A Walking Dead snowboard decorates a narrow hallway leading to the second-floor office. At the top of the stairs, guests are greeted by framed art of Dead star Andrew Lincoln pointing a gun. And at the bottom? A painting of a threatening zombie.
Global Reach: Walking Dead was the first TV drama to premiere worldwide simultaneously. The series and graphic novels (a Spanish edition is pictured) are in 120 countries and 250 million households and have been translated into 33 languages.
JONATHAN NOLAN & GREG PLAGEMAN
Creator and showrunner, Person of Interest
The first time Nolan saw Comic-Con, it was -- as it had been for so many before him -- from inside a Storm Trooper helmet. His older brother and collaborator, Christopher Nolan, had instructed him to go incognito at a 2007 guerrilla promotion for The Dark Knight, which Jonathan co-wrote, along with the sequel. "No one is going to f--ing recognize me," says Jonathan, now 36 and married. "I'm a writer." Four years later, he debuted his CBS thriller, Person of Interest, to a packed crowd alongside showrunner Plageman, 42 and married with kids. The duo credit the positive reception with helping them shape the top-rated drama's first season. "There's this incredibly violent scene in the pilot, and everybody went bananas and then started laughing" at a lighter moment that followed, says Plageman, previously an executive producer on CBS' Cold Case. "I thought, 'Here is the tone of our show.' I'd always done shows that have been on for a while and were kinda set in stone." Nolan, whose office tchotchkes draw from comic books and Person's surveillance themes, has his hand in all aspects of the show, including a Mark Englert-designed poster being given away in San Diego. "I've always been interested in trailers, posters, websites," he says. "I came from independent film -- we did all that stuff ourselves." -- Michael O'Connell
Zeitgeist Art: An homage to both Heath Ledger's Joker in Dark Knight and Shepard Fairey's "Hope" campaign poster for President Obama that was released at about the same time, the "Joke" poster came from a Batman fan. Says Nolan (left), "I love the poster because, for me, it pretty much sums up 2008."
Living By the Sword: Sandwiched between an image of Heath Ledger's Joker and a Banksy artwork, a poster for the 1962 samurai film Sanjuro pays subtle tribute to Jim Caviezel's mysterious, super-abled, off-the-grid CIA agent on Person.
A Little Something For the Kids: "We were running around in the sun with 400 kids, dressed in clown makeup," says Nolan of a stunt to tease Dark Knight's heist-scene prologue. "In the end, we gave them all masks."
Surveillance Toys: "We're actually going to get one outfitted with a camera next year," says Nolan of the remote drone helicopter on his coffee table. "There are a number of other hidden cameras in this room. We use a dozen of them on the show, so we've been playing with them back here."
The One About the Bear: Something of a joke in the Person offices, pandas have popped up as gag gifts since Nolan made an off-color remark about their breeding challenges during a meeting. "My point was that pandas have no right to exist because they can't even procreate correctly," he says with a laugh.