SHARING AMERICA'S TECH NEWS FROM THE VALLEY TO THE ALLEY
by Howard Whitman (courtesy techtell)
To be honest, I was iffy about hitting Philadelphia’s 2013 Wizard World Comic Con on opening day.
Why? Because it was opening day! These shows are usually weekend events. The good stuff—the big celebrities, the popular sessions, etc.—don’t usually occur until Friday and Saturday. I wasn’t even aware that this one opened on Thursday!
But it did, and I had a few hours to kill after work, so, a quick subway ride from my Philly office brought me to the city’s relatively new Convention Center, site of Wizard World 2013.
Know what? I’m glad I went.
The show, which has become Philadelphia’s annual approximation of the crazy-huge San Diego Comic Con that happens every summer, was predictably low-key on opening night. I worked (briefly) in the comic book industry and attended the San Diego Comic Con around 1987, before it became the enormous institution for Hollywood hype it is now, and it was huge back then.
But this was nothing like that.
Wizard World on opening night was primarily about commerce. Most of the vendors were already set up and running, and many of the pro artists were in attendance at their tables, signing and sketching and hoping to sell a few books or pieces of art.
Although a number of A-, B- and C-list celebs are scheduled to appear at the show, they weren’t there on Thursday night. It’s interesting how the show sets this up, with a dedicated area of booths at one end of the convention hall. Each booth is assigned to a specific personality—I saw signs for folks like The Exorcist’s Linda Blair, Firely fan favorite Summer Glau, and Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead, but the booths were, at this point, vacant. I’m sure these folks, and the many other personalities scheduled to appear, will be coming in on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I did hear that wrestling star John Cena was there on Thursday, and drew a big line. Huh—apparently there’s a big crossover appeal between comic book/sci-fi fans and wrestling ones.
The fun of hitting the con on opening night was mostly found in checking out the attendees. Comic cons get a lot of media attention for “cosplay”—people who dress up in costumes from their favorite movies, shows and stories—and this con was no exception. Speaking of crossover, it was common to see characters from different “universes”—even different genres altogether—walking side by side. A trio of Batman, his nemesis Harley Quinn, and a Starfleet Admiral from Star Trek were making the rounds, as were a grouping of another Batman, another of his enemies Poison Ivy, and a Jedi Knight. Interesting that the Batman characters tend to hang together …
• The gang of ruffians from A Clockwork Orange. Scary.
• A couple of Ghostbusters with homemade “rigs” that deserve points for effort.
• At least two different Spider-Men. Costumes=very revealing.
• Two Jedi Knights (think The Phantom Menace era).
• Freddie Kruger
• Some guy with a box on his head—a painted box, yes, but still a box.
These are nice folks, who were always up for posing for a photo with one of us non-costumed folk. I saw the Freddie Kruger dude posing for a photo with a young boy who seemed more than a little freaked out.
Beyond the costumed fun, the show was, as these things always are, an opportunity to buy and sell—mostly buy. A heaping bag filled with books, toys, T-shirts and other paraphernalia was a standard issue for most of the attendees walking the floor. Here are some of the cool vendors I spotted in my travels:
• Two stores selling Katanas and other forms of swords. Real swords.
• Game Over Videogames, selling old-school games (think Nintendo 64 vintage).
• “Turn Anything Into a Speaker”—a device that, when joined with, say, a coffee cup or styrofoam cooler, would project music.
• Lots and lots of sellers of comics, graphic novels, toys, shirts—you name it.
• Collectibles Insurance Agency, for insurance all of the above. This stuff can get expensive!
The artist tables, which featured name comic pros like Barry Kitson, Michael Golden and Bob McLeod, along with young, aspiring artists, writers and publishers, also hosted some fan entities there as much for fun as to do business, such as the Imperial Klingon Forces Recruitment Station, which hoped to sign up a few good Klingons.
You could also get your carictacture drawn—as a zombie. For 10 bucks, you could get your picture taken in a Batmobile (Adam West era). And there was clothing available for a zombie apocalypse—always handy.
It was cool to experience this on an “off-night”, before the big traffic kicked in and the big crowds came. It was easy to walk the floor and approach vendors and look at their items. It was quiet. Everyone was well-behaved and friendly. It was fun.
I’m planning to go back on Saturday, June 1, to check out some of the programs and sights. If you’re in the Philly area, and like this kind of thing, I heartily suggest you check this out. It’s only going to get bigger and better. If you’re in another town, check out wizardworld.com—they host these all over the country, and may be having one in your area soon.
Thank you. TiA.