Comic-Con 2012: 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Book Signing Draws Big Crowd

"Fifty Shades of Grey"

E.L. James, author of the "Fifty Shades" trilogy, has become the literary world’s unlikely superstar.

"My husband refuses to read it but he's really benefited from it," says one fan as she waits for E.L. James to sign her copy of the erotic bestseller.

"We are Team Christian now," declared a fan waiting in line to get her copy of Fifty Shades of Grey signed by author E. L. James. 

That declaration sums up the passing of the romantic-series torch which occured at Comic-Con on Thursday. 

The day began with a panel devoted to the final Twilight movie and ended with an overflow crowd clammering for James' signature on their copy of the hit erotic thriller.

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Fans lined up at 9 a.m. for tickets to the afternoon signing. Within an hour, all three hundred tickets were gone.

The trilogy -- Fifty Shades of GreyFifty Shades of Darker and Fifty Shades of Freed -- has sold twenty million copies in the U.S. and 31 million worldwide, earning James more than $50 million. 

Universal Pictures and Focus Features paid $5 million dollars for the film rights to all three books. 

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The novels tell the story of Anastasia, a college student (and virgin), who gets involved in a romantic relationship that involves S&M and bondage with a slightly older man, the billionaire Christian Grey.

Situated next to Richard Hatch (of Battlestar Galatica) and across from Larry Thomas (the Seinfeld Soup Nazi) and Richard Anderson (Oscar Goldman of the Six Million Dollar Man) in the autograph hall, James, a suburban-mom-looking former TV executive and mother of two from London who has rocketed to fame in the last six months as her erotic trilogy has topped bestseller lists, made an interesting contrast.

The crowd at the signing skewed older and more female than your average Comic-Con event. Though a few people came just for the signing, most said they were already attending the show and saw the  late-announced James appearance as an added bonus.

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Waiting fans expressed definite opinions about who should play lead characters Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. Many came with prints outs of their choice or with photos on their phone, ready to lobby James.

A majority favored Matt Bomer (White Collar) or Ian Somerholder (Vampire Diairiesfor Grey. Choices for Anastasia were all over the map. The single most popular choice was probably Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones), with a few others mentioning former GIlmore Girls star Alexis Bledel

Most hoped for relative unkowns in the roles, rejecting the idea that a major star like Channing Tatum should play Grey.

The handful of men at the signing were either accompanying their wives or girlfriends to the event or said they were gettting a signed copy as a present for their significant other. No man in line would confess to having read the whole book.

Most women said they could not get the men in their lives to read the book. But as one thirtysomething female fan said, "My husband refuses to read it but he's really benefited from it," as she gave a suggestive wink and knowing smile.