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The 2014 Wizard World Convention Brought Out the Kid in All of Us

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Transformers Car

The car featured in TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN.

Navigating the rows of rare back-issues, original artwork, and collectible merchandise can be pretty tough when you’re competing with tens of thousands of people. Except when you’re at Wizard World and are among such like-minded enthusiasts of comics and pop-culture, than you feel more like a wide-eyed 10 yr. old and don’t necessarily mind running into a random Princess Leia or a Joker from THE DARK KNIGHT. Wizard World added St. Louis to its multi-city roster last year and fans swarmed the America’s Center Convention Hall. This year was no different. Well . . . I should clarify there was one big difference. But I don’t think fans complained about the event increasing in size to fill the entire Edward Jones Dome! Where else but at Wizard World can you say that former Batman Adam West, Nathan Fillion, and Eliza Dushku all played on the same field as the St. Louis Rams?

Star Wars Couple

A couple dressed as Princess Leia and Han Solo in carbonite.

Mahle Art

Artist Mike Mahle displays his femme fatale themed artwork.

The Dome was filled with people of all shapes and colors this year for the return of the St. Louis Comic-Con. Harry Potter wizards wore their house robes. Jedi knights wielded their lightsabers. But who seemed to reign supreme was the Whovians. DOCTOR WHO was the talk of the show for the past three days. Rightfully so given that two of the British show’s main stars were on hand to meet with their rabid fans. A line that wrapped down the convention hallways began forming hours before a Q&A panel with former “Doctor” Matt Smith. Who brought in as many cheers and fans was Smith’s co-star on the show Karen Gillan. Though much of her panel focused on DOCTOR WHO – Gillan even gave into a young fan’s request to say ‘Oi!’ like her character does in the episode “The Eleventh Hour” – she also briefly discussed her upcoming roles in Marvel’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and in the horror film OCCULUS. Just so you know, she was pretty terrified of the unknown and supernatural horrors when she was younger and might be a little bit now as well.

Karen Gillian

Karen Gillan recounts stories from the set of DOCTOR WHO.

Yours truly was the most excited to meet actor Bruce Campbell but that’s because I’m more of a horror fan at heart. I’ve gone to a number of conventions over the years and have always wanted to meet the star of the Evil Dead Trilogy. Now I can finally say I have. With an easy smile and a firm handshake, Campbell was happy to sign my poster for the original 1981 horror classic. I proceeded to ask him about the progress of the long-rumored sequel to BUBBA HO-TEP. “It’s currently being re-written by the original film’s writer. I’m happy that it (BUBBA NOSFERATU) is coming along.” Meeting him and shaking his hand would have been enough just by itself, but hearing that the sequel to one of the best horror-comedies of the best 20 years is moving forward was the blood-red icing on this horror kid’s cake.

Campbell and Raimi

Ted Raimi and Bruce Campbell take the stage.

Late Saturday afternoon gave way to the most hilarious panel of the weekend. Ted Raimi and Bruce Campbell played talk-show hosts in a non-traditional panel format that incorporated fans from the audience. Campbell’s charming curmudgeon act was frequently entertaining even if he led some conversations into lewd territory at times. Thankfully all of the guests that were invited on stage as well as the audience didn’t mind the sexual innuendo at play. Once again, this panel was easily the most memorable looking back at the weekend.

Female Loki

An attendee dressed as a ‘Female Loki.’

To cap off the evening Saturday night, costumed attendees were invited to take part in a costume contest. Several categories were voted on including “Best Female Villain” and “Best Team or Duo.” One of my favorite cosplayers of the entire con was a woman dressed as a ‘Female Loki.’ Clearly I wasn’t the only one who thought so as she was awarded “Best Female Villain.” After the big show Saturday night an even bigger show was just beginning. Wizard World held an after-party overlooking the convention floor that everyone seemed to enjoy. This wasn’t some middle-school dance either where the boys sat on one side and the girls on the other. Clearly, some of these costumed freaks were ready to mingle and they did so on the dance floor. Beats were bumping late into the night courtesy of a few DJs and rapper Tech N9ne. I might have been more surprised than anyone that this party would be as fun as it was; all while being free for convention attendees!

Tech N9ne

 Tech N9ne and artist Rob Prior getting the crowd rowdy at the after-party.

Most of the stars from tv and film charged top dollar for either a photo-op or a signature print. Yet, if you are a fan of comic-books, a living legend in the industry was available on Saturday and a little bit on Sunday and wasn’t charging a dime to sign your coveted issues. Greg Capullo made a name for himself in the early 90’s for working with Todd McFarlane on the Image series Spawn. He has since gone on to work for several companies, drawing for them a multitude of characters, but has recently become known for his work on Batman. “Death of the Family” was the most recent story that Capullo did for DC that found the Caped Crusader battling a hideously deformed and even more crazed version of The Joker. I was lucky enough to meet Capullo who seemed genuinely gracious to meet so many fans of his art. He obviously returned the favor by offering free signatures of his books.

Greg Capullo

Greg Capullo signing a Batman print

Aside from all of the love for DR. WHO, the second largest fandom came from the Browncoats. Although the show was cancelled back in 2002, FIREFLY fans came out in full support over the weekend to embrace the show’s stars Adam Baldwin, Alan Tudyk, Summer Glau, and Nathan Fillion. All four of them had steady lines over the weekend to meet with fans and to discuss the short-lived series and subsequent film SERENITY. On Sunday afternoon, just as the convention started to die down, the trio of male stars – Summer Glau had to “catch an early flight” for some reason even though she obviously knew the whole weekend when her panel was (deep sigh) – took to the stage like a bunch of guys at a high-school reunion. They cracked jokes and recounted working together on-set with Joss Whedon. Fillion joked about cursing in Chinese on the show and “offending an entire country” and Tudyk joked about getting yelled at recently for revealing too early that a sequel to the movie TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL is in the works (even though he then proceeded to tell us that he “already saw the outline to the sequel”). Overall, the panel felt more like catching-up than eye-opening for FIREFLY fans. Having said that, the wait for the panel might have been worth it just to hear Fillion sing a few lines from DR. HORRIBLE’S SING-ALONG BLOG.

Firefly 1

Firefly 2

Firefly 3

FIREFLY Panel (Adam Baldwin, Nathan Fillion, and Alan Tudyk)

The name Wizard World kind of says it all. It truly is a magical and foreign place where you can see a “Steampunk Darth Vadar” walk beside a Ninja Turtle while admiring some custom James Bond artwork by Mike Mahle. It’s not uncommon to see grown men and women jump up and down and recount when they first discovered their favorite William Shatner STAR TREK episode. This child-like glee on people’s faces was seen on almost every single attendee I encountered over the three day celebration. I use the word celebration because it truly feels like that when you are among so many who have all happily driven miles (some even who have crossed state lines) for a weekend to connect with fellow geeks, dorks, nerds, fangirls, cosplayers, gamers, and fanboys. We may all like different things but we all share the same energized passion and that’s the main thing that brings us altogether at Wizard World.

Rocketeer

The Rocketeer lands at Wizard World St. Louis.

Mark your calendars now. Wizard World has already announced that they will be returning to St. Louis May 15-17, 2015!

I enjoy sitting in large, dark rooms with like-minded cinephiles and having stories unfold before my eyes.

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