Among my bretheren, commonly known as geeks, the annual Wizard World Comic Con is akin to your high school’s Senior Prom.
We get sweaty, excited, spend a lot of money and — in some instances — we’re even known to get dressed up. The difference is those who dress up forego the cumberbun in favor of spandex tights.
WIZARD WORLD PHILADELPHIA, a comic book and pop culture convention that has now rebranded as Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con, will take place June 17-19 at the Philadelphia Convention Center. Among the celebrity headliners will be Bruce Campbell (EVIL DEAD movies, “Burn Notice”), Adam Baldwin (FULL METAL JACKET, ”Firefly”), Bill Goldberg (WWE Wrestler), Julie Benz (“Angel”, “No Ordinary Family”), Pam Grier (JACKIE BROWN), Vivica A. Fox (KILL BILL vol.1 & 2), Billy Dee Williams (STAR WARS: The Empire Strikes Back) and Adam West and Burt Ward from TV’s “Batman.”
“Response to this year’s celebrities has been massive,” said Gareb Shamus, Wizard World CEO in a recent press release. “Philadelphia Comic Con is bringing its most robust and diverse guest list ever. Fans are psyched, and they have let us know.”
In the past few years, the Wizard World Comic Con has seen the prominence of comic books slip and a focus has been put more onto the celebrities showing up for autograph sesssions, making it more of a Pop Culture Convention as opposed to a pure Comic Book Convention. As a diehard comic fan and someone who doesn’t generally care to pay a celeb anywhere from $20 to $75 for their signature on an 8″x10″ photo, this has been a disappointment. But last year’s Wizard World experience — particularly that in the area known as Artist’s Alley — has led me to rethink my concerns with the direction the con has been moving.
While there are certainly going to be plenty of people at the con to see folks like Michael Biehn (TERMINATOR, ALIENS), Alaina Huffman (“Smallville,” “SGU Stargate Universe”), John Schneider (“Smallville,” “Dukes of Hazzard”) and Richard Roundtree (SHAFT, “Heroes), I know there are plenty others who may end up reading comics from the relatively unknown publishers lining the rows of Artists Alley. And even though the bigger name companies like DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, IDW and Image no longer have booths set up at the con, some of their creators are there on their own. Additionally, the money that fans were normally spending at the big press booths is now being spent on small press and independent comics and in my mind that’s always a great thing.
Geeks like myself who started to get angry when it seemed that comics were no longer the focus of Wizard World should reconsider. There are local companies, like Zenescope. There are still other publishers who just don’t happen to be the Big Two. There are still plenty of comics there. There are still plenty of ways to spend your money and tons of deals to be made on comics, apparrel and memorabilia. There are still plenty of talented comic creators. If anything, the creators who show up are even more likely to garner your attention and you never know when you’ll discover the next big thing in comics before they catch their big break. Most importantly, there are still plenty of ways to have fun!
C’mon, it’s always great to see if you can snap a photo of Lou Ferrigno for free without him Hulking out at you!
Hours are Friday, June 17, noon – 8 p.m., Saturday, June 18, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., and Sunday, June 19, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tickets are available in advance online at http://www.wizardworld.com/philadelphia.html at a savings over tickets purchased at the door. Advance adult single-day tickets are priced at $25 ($35 on site); three-day weekend tickets are $45 ($55 on site), and tickets are free for children age 10 and under when accompanied by a paid adult (limit two children per adult). VIP packages with special entry and exclusive items are also available on a limited basis.
The full event schedule can be found at www.wizardworld.com.