The Wizarding World of Wizard World Philadelphia

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Wizard World Recap

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Perhaps it’s because I’m getting older and more prone to daydream about being a father, or maybe my perception of the comic con crowd is actually legitimate, but it seems to me that the annual Wizard World Comic Con event in Philadelphia is becoming increasingly targeted toward children. As it should be.

The weekend-long events have always been largely family-friendly and adult Stans and fandom devotees never resisted the urge to drag their children along for the ride due to some fleeting hope that a switch may flip in Junior’s subconscious, causing him to suddenly be fascinated with low-budget sci-fi from the 1970s.

While it is difficult to tell whether there were really more children in attendance or if I was just noticing them more frequently, the stands, merchandise and set-ups featured ball pits, stuffies, children’s costumes, people talking in cartoony kindergarten voices, and more.

kSJPQPsrRPql4PoSo3BGfANow, I could be horribly wrong and the reality of the enigmatic landscape of Wizard World Comic Con could just be catering to the sophomoric desires of its giddiest attendees. But there was something about seeing loads of parents with their bright-eyed kids (with varying levels of excitement) actually able to enjoy and participate in the festivities without having to narrowly avoid being trampled by a stampede of 30-somethings desperate to get a picture with an adult man who portrayed a cartoon character in a movie.

The levels of exuberance amongst adults seem to be a bit subdued when the celebrity guests aren’t a tremendous draw, leveling out the attendees to those who simply want to bring their kids, hang out, buy some pop culture merchandise, and get some pictures of the bewildered.

Saturday, the busiest of the Con days, wasn’t even overloaded with large elaborate costumes. It seemed to be mostly young people and young children having a solidly good time. The moderate level of celebrity photo ops were engaging but not distracting. In fact, one of the longest lines I observed was in the food area where costumed grown-ups waited for hot chicken tendies.

When the crowds aren’t overwhelming and the booth operators and merchandisers are able to breathe while they converse with potential customers, everything seems a little bit more fun.

The only thing to which I can attribute this perceived new Comic Con dynamic is the lack of truly A-List celebrity guests. And in a world where the pop culture comic book fandom has become ubiquitous and over-praised, children are often alienated, or at least pushed to the sidelines.

kuv5m4e8RluNawp3eUiqLwThink about it. When you were a kid, it was far more exciting to play with toys, imagine yourself as a superhero or Jedi, and be able to share those moments with your parents than it was for you to meet the guy who played Chewbacca. I think that’s the key.

Can the comic book pop culture, toys, costumes, and imaginative play survive on its own merit once the deadpan seriousness with which it’s taken in the real world subsides?

Do we even remember what it’s like to see toys and games that require us to utilize our imaginations rather than be visually fleshed out in all its detailed cinematic glory?

While it doesn’t seem likely that these indulgent fantasy fandoms will deteriorate from the mainstream pop culture ether any time soon; but it was nice to see actual children being able to embrace it all without chaotic adults running the show.

You remember children; the audience all of this nonsense was always intended for.

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Charlie Lightning’s Disinterested Cosplay at Wizard World 2012

It was a long Saturday at the Wizard World Comic Con 2012. The recognizable (and unrecognizable) Cosplayers were out and about. Super Dudes Power Show’s Charlie Lightning was forced to stand next to some of the most creative costumes of the day…but he didn’t seem super into it.
Charles instructs me on how to work his camera. I’ve never used one before.
“Psylocke? Meh. This Pepsi is better.”
“Spaceballs? Naaah…”
“My feelings about ‘Sucker Punch’ have not changed…”
“Zombie Gumby, let me look at my soda for a bit.”
“Space Bounty Hunters? Does it even matter?”
“Doctor who?”
“Hey, is that Mark Ruffalo?”
“These are really high ceilings…”
“Who the fuck leaves a half-eaten pretzel on the ground?”
“Did I step in gum…?”
“This isn’t even a real axe…”
“Ooooh! T-Shirts for sale!”
“Why does Joel Schumacher continue to live?”

…And that concludes our Wizard World Comic Con adventures in Philadelphia…for this year. And for more from Charles “Charlie Lightning” Lecki, visit his TUMBLR and listen to us every week on SUPER DUDES POWER SHOW: The Podcast.

The Magic, Mayhem and Mystery of Wizard World Comic Con, Philly

Upon arrival on Thursday, I was impressed with the preparation, expectations and overall scope of the event. Previous Cons would have presented costumed and casually dressed guests with a long and drawn out wait filled with fits of sarcasm, pessimism and an almost palpable malaise. But not this time.

Thursday (May 31st) was a “preview day”. Simply, a 4-hour window of opportunity for those with VIP passes, all access cards, Press Passes, and Weekend Tickets to get their bracelets early and explore the premises before the event exploded over the next few days. The vendors were given a chance to set up their wares before attendees began their migration, and everything looked very professional and inviting. My Thursday experience filled me with optimism for the events to come and, while the halls and rows of the Con were virtually empty (save some hardcore fans), presented me with a brief preview of the kinds of ongoing and indistinguishable body odor I could expect to be treated to.

First thing Saturday afternoon, myself along with fellow SuperDPS podcaster, Charles Lecki, moved in to the Convention Center. I already had my Press Bracelet, but he had to wait in line for his. The cash and charge lines were vacant while the “Online Purchased” line zig-zagged through half of a hall. Surprisingly, the line progressed rather quickly, even though our minds and ears were subjected to Living Colour’s Cult of Personality (the theme song of Con Guest CM Punk) at least 3 times in a fucking row. And with that, it was Welcome to Wizard World Comic Con!

Saturday was a spectacular show in the main halls of Wizard World. Lots of celebrities, costumes, and thoughtful merchandise that truly brought out the giddy nerd in all attendees. It always amazes me that these conventions have an inevitable knife & sword vendor, given the notion that I wouldn’t trust most of the guests at comic con with anything sharper than an egg. Most people were well behaved and respectful, making the show an amicable environment for all ages, though things did get a little pushy and heated the closer we came to certain major celebrities. The excitement kept coming, and I believe most of that came from the dynamics of the cosplayers, slack-jawed expressions on the faces of children (seen above), along with the lean and hungry look in the eyes of many of the lesser-visited celebrity guests.

I’ll begin with getting something off of my chest. I know (essentially) dick about wrestling. The WWE (or WWF as it was when I used to watch) holds very little significance in my life; however, seeing some of the stars of yester-year jogged my memory of when the realm of sports entertainment was filled with much more entertaining (and attractive) characters. Wrestler, CM Punk, was among the highest profile guests at the event, sparking huge crowds of WWE fanatics paying Christ-only-knows how much money for autographs and photo-ops with the “Champion”. As for my admission of deficiency when it comes to the going-on’s in Vince McMahon’s puppet show, one celebrity that amazed me by how great she looked was Amy Dumas (or “Lita” from WWE).

Of course there were several celebrities that looked a lot better than expected, and some who turned out a lot worse. Women like Kristy Swanson (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) and Shannon Elizabeth (“American Pie”) were examples of individuals who Time has been very kind with. What struck me as odd with these two was that both were not only charging for autographs and photo ops, but also trying to sell their merch. I don’t mean professional photos, either. I mean that Kristy Swanson (above) was promoting a brand of “5-hour energy”-style Vitamin drinks, and Shannon Elizabeth (perhaps more understandable) was selling her line of perfume. As strange and seemingly unconventional as this was, I would rather see these celebrities–who are obviously looking for work–attempting to sell or capitalize off of their fame than celebrities who are doing obscenely well currently, trying to sell autographs and photo ops for twice the price of admission. It just feels petty to me. Maybe I have some growing up to do.

Totally Furrealz: Melissa Joan Hart’s prices went up to $30 and $45, and then were drastically reduced to $15

My final comments before I leave you with a podcast to fill you in on the rest of our experiences are twofold. First, the base of any comic book convention is, was, and always should be the comics and artists that not only provide you with the stories, images and characters we love so much, but are also ultimately responsible for the adaptation films that do so well in our theaters. The fact that Chris Hemsworth (who I couldn’t get anywhere near, btw) gets more recognition for playing Thor than the person who effectively created the Marvel character should be a travesty. But for some reason it isn’t. While heroes of the industry like Stan Lee (who I also could get nowhere close to) are still praised and admired for their contributions, the row of dedicated, hard-working comic book artists at these conventions are virtually ignored in favor of people like CM Punk who yells into a microphone for a living. I understand why, I’m just curious if anyone feels the same way about the Artists. A counterpoint may be that most artists don’t want to be huge celebs, and that’s why they’re artists and not movie stars…but I’m sure they’d still appreciate the recognition.

And secondly, I think celebrities have the right to be slightly fucking bitter and butt-hurt after their long and successful career ends with them sitting in a vacant booth on a convention circuit with only the occasional visitor; and overhearing passersby whispering, “Who’s that?” But I don’t think that means you have the right to condescend to or be so flippant to those who are willing to pay just to shake your hand. I think that paying for an autograph or photo op is a complete waste of time. The act of trading money for a picture with someone or someone’s name casually scrawled on a photo of themselves (which you also bought) seems a bit redundant. We went photo-hunting at the Con, snapping pictures and capturing some great moments. You can share in some of these moments by visiting our entire gallery here.

The Wizard World Comic Con was a great experience and we had a lot of fun. Perhaps next year we’ll try a new approach to interacting with some of your favorite pop culture icons. Thanks for joining us!!

Alex Gross

For MORE from our experiences at WIZARD WORLD COMIC CON, listen to our event PODCAST HERE!!!

CHECK OUT OUR FULL PHOTO GALLERY FROM WIZARD WORLD!

ALSO–CHECK OUT OUR OTHER AMAZING PICTURE SERIES: “CHARLIE LIGHTNING’S DISINTERESTED COSPLAY!”