Comic-Con: Starz's 'American Gods' Team Drops First Trailer, Teases "Surprises" for Book Fans

American Gods Comic-Con Panel - H 2016
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for STARZ

American Gods author Neil Gaiman got quite the welcome Friday at Comic-Con for the highly anticipated Starz adaptation of his wildly popular fantasy novel. The award winner was greeted with a standing ovation and eruptions of cheers from not only the crowd but the stars and executive producers behind the forthcoming drama.

"If only all writers were treated like that," Gaiman told the crowd with a laugh.

The Comic-Con panel marked one of the first times footage from the drama has been shown publicly – a very fitting move as Gaiman himself explained.

"I've been coming to San Diego Comic-Con for a very long time," he said. In 1999, "I came by train and on the train to San Diego which was a three-day train journey from Chicago, I wrote the first chapter of American Gods."

Published in 2001, American Gods centers on a war brewing between old and new gods. The traditional gods of biblical and mythological roots from around the world continue to lose believers to an upstart pantheon of gods reflecting society’s modern love of money, technology, media, celebrity and drugs. Series protagonist, Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), is an ex-con who becomes the bodyguard and traveling partner to Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane). A conman who is secretly one of the older gods, Mr. Wednesday is on a cross-country mission to gather his troops in preparation for a battle with the new deities. (During the panel, Fuller also announced the casting of Kristin Chenoweth as Easter.) 

For those who haven't read the book, "we'll take care of you," co-showrunner Bryan Fuller promised. "However you come to this. … you’re in good hands."

However, Gaiman teased "surprises" in store for those who are familiar with the book. "We have things that will leave you puzzled," he said.

Fuller and co-showrunner Michael Green promised to stay loyal to the book. "It becomes fan fiction in a wonderful way," Fuller said. "Yes, we're dedicated to the source material but we're also tasked with bringing it to television."

It helps that Gaiman is also an executive producer on the series. He has been involved since the beginning, helping with everything from casting Shadow Moon to giving the showrunners 4,000 years of backstory on Mr. Wednesday. "As a general rule, if you love it in the book, it is probably going to turn up on your screen," Gaiman promised.

Like the book, the series will deal with topical issues like gun control issues, women's rights and racial divides, among others  something that Fuller and Green said was important to them.

"I look at what's happening in the country today and we have a vice presidential nominee who thinks that gay people should be shocked," Fuller said. "It's really scary because there is an absence of love and an absence of tolerance. … There is so much hate and we're in trouble as a country."

As part of Gaiman's active involvement in the series, he had a conversation earlier on with the producers of the series to make sure the racial makeup of the characters was kept intact and that there was no, as he called, "white-washing."

"I wanted that absolutely held in stone, they were all like of course," Gaiman said. "There was no push back. There was nothing but absolute agreement."

American Gods premieres in 2017 on Starz. Watch the first trailer below: