Arts, Comedy, Events, Fun Stuff, Movies, News, Philly, Show

Going Solo: A Wizard World Story

Every year there is a palpable anticipation for our local Philadelphia version of Wizard World Comic Con, and 2018 was no exception.

Generally, the first step in building the excitement is what film, tv, media and pop culture projects are in the works; or what is set to be released around the time of the event. This year was primarily driven by the enormous release of Avengers: Infinity War, the Reddit-Nerd continuation of Deadpool, and upcoming sleeper hit(?) Solo: A Star Wars Story.

The second exciting factor of the annual Comic Con circuit are the guests. Now, obviously the Wizard World events are not the enormous, spared-no-expense spectacles where major studios break industry news and premiere huge trailers, but their guests are usually fairly notable.

This year’s Wizard World event brought out some incredible guests from various franchises and fan bases–while all being at least generally appealing to the standard pop culture junkie.

Personally, I get much more giddy about the 2nd and 3rd tier guests–the ones who may not be household names but appeal to a very particular audience: the comic book artists, character designers, and stars of esoteric sci-fi television.

For example, everyone knows Elijah Wood, Jason Momoa, Natalie Dormer, and Sean Bean. What grown man wouldn’t want their Notre Dame jersey signed by Rudy (Sean Astin); or a keepsake photo saying “Aaaaay” with the Fonz?!

But the people who would walk up to Jewel Staite and tell her how she was one of your first crushes back when she was on Space Cases on Nickelodeon?

Well, that’s my kind of freak and/or geek.

There was something for everyone this year, which is difficult to accomplish in a Comic Con setting. And I think because there was no strict focus on nostalgic casts this year (i.e. Every Star Trek captain, all of the Avengers, or the cast of X-Files) the one thing that fell short for me was the lack of intriguing panels/interviews.

Frankly, I found the most engaging stage events this year to be the “Creative Stage” where artists explained storyboarding techniques, publishing do’s and don’ts, and composition for comics/graphic novels.

Perhaps that’s just where “artists” like myself get our jollies.

The vendors, collectors, merch and snake-oil salesmen of past years seemed a little more prevalent than in 2018. Unless you’re breaking the bank on photos and autographs, one of the fun things to do is to shop around for interesting collectables you may only be able to find cracked and broken in the back alleys of eBay.

One merchandise table really stood out to me this year, as a Star Wars collector. I managed to pick up some inexpensive keepsakes in the form of original action figures from the 1970s and 1980s Star Wars films which can often be either overpriced or hard to find in any kind of acceptable condition.

Finally, the most important reason to attend Wizard World Comic Con is for the stories. If you’re not stuck in your anti-social bubble, riding the benches playing your Nintendo DS, you’ll be sure to leave with some interesting stories, some fun conversations, and some chance encounters with the personally enlightening…or the impossibly craaaange.

This year, I learned a bit about the value of old comic books and the people who shell out tens of thousands of dollars for them…as well as the business of autograph collecting.

I was also fortunate enough to see an exhausted Kato Kaelin, interviewing Wizard World attendees from the main stage, approach a female(?) Wario cosplayer initiating the following exchange:

“What are you supposed to be?”
“What’s a Wario?”
(frozen in panic)

Those are the Wizard World moments I live for.

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