by Rich Sands at

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At July’s Comic-Con, Smallville star Tom Welling made his first appearance at the gargantuan sci-fi and pop-culture extravaganza, sending a packed room of 2,000-plus fans into a frenzy. (An action-packed sizzle reel that included shots of Clark in a new all-black uniform that includes the Superman shield also go the crowd buzzing.) During the audience Q&A portion, a soft-spoken young woman stepped up to the microphone and requested Welling’s answer be “kinda long, so you can keep looking at me.” Luckily for that fan, and the loyal base who still watch the series, there will be at least one more season of face time for Welling. Already TV’s most prolific Superman, the 32-year-old actor agreed last winter to sign on for this year’s ninth season (and a potential 10th) after addressing his main concern (one shared by many fans): How, after eight years, do you keep telling stories about Clark Kent before he dons the red-and-blue tights of the Man of Steel? “At a certain point, we all know where it’s going to go,” Welling told TV Guide Magazine moments after the Comic-Con panel in a makeshift green room at the San Diego Convention Center. “And even last year, the question about halfway through the year was, ‘What is stopping him from putting on the cape?’…Once that took its form, then the decision wasn’t so difficult.” Here Welling shares his feelings on coming back, his role as a producer this season, and putting on the Superman shield for the first time.

You’ve added producing duties this year. How does that change your role on the show?
When I started Smallville obviously I hadn’t done much acting. My goal was to learn everything I could. And along that road I just needed to learn everything about everything and then use that to make the show better.… There’s no bitterness or dark side when I say this, but I think I’ve been contributing as a producer for more than a few years. [Welling has directed several episodes of the series.] The title is the title, nothing changes for us in production. I don’t know if much has changed as what I bring to the table, but I do know that now I have [more] access… I’ve always tried to be open and collaborative and make the show better. I guess in the end one thing that has really changed is that there’s a lot more paperwork that comes to me! Now I literally have a stack of memos like this at the end of every day.

What was it like putting that costume on and having that S on your chest?
The thing is, it’s a show going into Season 9. We’ve covered a lot of ground. When we first started talking about [this season] my first thought was apprehension. At the beginning the show was ‘Before Superman,’ Clark Kent’s origins, and how he got to that point [of becoming Superman]. Now you can definitely see that it’s a new era for the show. People say, ‘Season 9? It’s been so long.’ It has, but at the same time every year is the only year, every year is a new show. Especially this year. We look at posters up in the office of Season 1, 2 and 3 and we were kids, literally. Looking back it’s like a whole other world. But that’s the way it’s always been on our show. And standing on set wearing a black shirt, with silver S, black leather coat, black jeans, black boots, and thinking about last year, it’s night and day.

The ninth season premiere of Smallville airs Friday, September 25, 8/7c, on The CW.

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I’ve seen some of the new pics and TV Spots and they look amazing! Clark finally wearing the S is what every fan has been waiting for and will get to see it, not to mention more Lois & Clark! 😉

What do you think of this new season? How do you feel about the S? What are you expecting more this time around?