Wizard World Comic Con Experience 2014
The Wizard World Comic Con Experience 2014
Story by: David A. De La Rosa
Photographs by: Joseph Martinez
The Wizard World San Antonio Comic Con 2014 was a fun filled event to attend for anyone who’s into comics or pop culture in general. It’s the kind of event to let ones inner geek out to put on the old superhero costume and for one day or possibly three to pretend they are their favorite crime fighter.
For those of you who are not familiar with the Wizard World Comic Cons they are a series of comic con events scheduled throughout the country some of these cities include Chicago, Portland, and New Orleans to name a few (www.wizardworld.com ).
This was the first Wizard World Comic Con in San Antonio, held at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center; for a few years now the closest scheduled event was in Austin. I must say I was wowed by the kind of special guest celebrities that Austin’s con has attained in the past so I was looking forward to this event. As with all comic cons there are many things that attract convention goers which include special guest celebrities, comic book artists, comic/pop culture merchandise, and family fun.
I love the fact that at events like this you can meet some of your favorite television and film stars, and attain autographs or photo ops with them. I enjoyed the celebrity panels I attend, and found them to be very entertaining. This comic con also had some great artists in attendance that sold and signed prints of their work. The merchandise was great which not only catered to the geek, but also the average person. As far as the family fun it was everywhere people dressed up and were taking pictures with their favorite superhero or villain all for the asking. Everyone in costume was so happy to pose for pictures
. The special guest celebrity line up was pretty impressive it included William Shatner, Michael Rooker, Lou Ferrigno, Cassandra Peterson, and James Marsters, just to name a few . The comic con had all its bases covered regarding attracting fans to this event simply by having these science fiction and horror film/television icons in attendance. Every one of these celebs had a booth where a fan could attain an autograph or photo op. Some of these celebs had special VIP passes and a special section in the convention hall was set aside for photo ops. Scheduled throughout the three days of this con there were Q&A panels with these celebs of which I attended three.
One was with Captain Kirk himself William Shatner. It was very informative he spoke about his life and some aspects of his early television career regarding the Twilight Zone episodes he did. Mr. Shatner was a very delightful gentleman. I attended the panel for James Marsters for those of you who don’t know he played Spike the evil vampire on the TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Now I didn’t know this, he is an American actor everything I’ve seen him in he always has a British accent, so I thought he was British. His panel was very informative about his past, present, and future projects. One panel attendee asked him a question regarding his onscreen kiss with John Barrowman who was also in attendance at this con. It was interesting to know that his wife directed the kissing scene on that episode of Torchwood.
I went kind of early to get good seating for a panel and caught the tail end of Dean Cain’s Q&A session. For people who don’t know Dean played Superman on the television series Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. He was very open and the crowd liked his down to earth manner. One attendee asked him what his most embarrassing moment on television was. Dean replied that he felt he was in good physical shape being an ex professional football player so when he had break through a wall that had been weakened and prepared for a scene, he felt confident he could do it. Sometimes he couldn’t break through the wall to the laughter and amusement of the production crew.
The most memorable panel I went to was of Cassandra Peterson who hosted Horror films late at night in the early 80’s as the sexy wise cracking Elvira. She spoke about her friendships she formed years ago as a member of the Groundlings comedy group that included the late great Phil Hartman, and Paul Rubens (Pee Wee Herman). She talked about her experiences in Las Vegas as a young showgirl meeting the king himself Elvis. She spoke about how Elvis told her to leave Vegas in order reach her full potential as an entertainer. She was lovely and charming if anyone has the opportunity to meet her at a con go see her you won’t be disappointed. The comic book artists were well represented at the con, the legendary Neal Adams (Batman, Green Lantern, and Green Arrow) was there at a booth selling his prints at very affordable prices. I saw Greg Horn there and I bought a few prints from him because I’m big fan of his comic book cover artwork ( FYI if you have any of his comic books he will sign them for free as long as they are not special edition comics).
While looking at the different artist booths I ran into Adam Simon who spoke about his independent sci fi film Synapse. Adam wrote the screenplay and is also acting in the film; the premise is very interesting for more info on this film go to www.synapsethefilm.com. The merchandise at the con encompassed many interests to the geek and non geek alike. There was everything from comics to light sabers at the con. When I attend a con I look forward to finding comics for my collection, and action figures that won’t break my bank, that was all there. Sometimes when I go to a con something completely new to me fascinates me; this time it was the LED sound activated t-shirts I thought they were really cool and affordable.
The family could all come down and have fun at an event like this meeting other convention goers dressed up as superheroes who are happy to pose for photos. I saw whole families coming to this event dressed up each one a member of a superhero team like The Guardians of the Galaxy. I get a kick out of seeing peoples ingenuity when it comes making their own costumes. Oh by the way the most prevalent costume in attendance was Deadpool. The costume role-play was awesome but there was also videogame role-playing with huge simulator pods so you can pilot your own giant robot mecha (provided by Mechcorps) which was cool. To me it’s these things that make going to an event like this great fun.
Overview ,I enjoyed this event and I thought it was a moderate success. First off the staff running this event are all top notch and very professional. I think the way they handled the crowd of attendees was very organized as far as lining up for admission and to pick up VIP passes. The layout in the convention area was great there wasn’t any overcrowding at any one part of the space so the foot traffic kept on moving. The autograph booths were very good with respect to how they were dispersed throughout the convention area, and the lines they had at each booth was pretty clever. I liked the way the photo op area was set up; it was very organized and could handle hundreds of people at a time very easily. There was an area at the snack bar set up which I’m sure the mommies appreciated so they can sit down to rest to have a soda or a hot dog. I very much approved of the way they set up and utilized the media rooms for the Q&A panels there was plenty of seating.
I think the Frankly Chat app was a cool innovation being used in the panels. The Frankly Chat app is something that can be downloaded to your smartphone that enables you to pose questions to your favorite celebrities without having to be there. The reason I thought this event was a moderate success is that I had an expectation there would be more people in attendance. I spoke to a vendor who said that he attended the San Japan convention a few weeks earlier at the same venue, and the crowds there were comparable to this event. For those of you who do not know San Japan is a convention that celebrates all things Japanese and Japanese animation. It is a smaller niche subculture compared to the traditional comic con culture, and they achieved comparable attendance for that event. The same vendor stated that Wizard World needed to find a way to attract local vendors to this event.
I thought that maybe price point for the tickets might be a factor for the lack of attendance. Realistically I think that this town could support a convention like this even with the price of the tickets being what they are. I believe these points are valid, but I think the people at Wizard World shouldn’t have scheduled their convention roughly a little over a month before its convention competitor Alamo City Comic Con. I think that when they schedule their next convention they should have it 4 to 6 months apart from the Alamo City Comic Con. Scheduling with this in mind I think would insure a better turn out as well as bring in more local vendors to this event. I would love to see this event succeed in our city. I have one suggestion to Wizard World why not try to have this event during Fiesta, combining this event with an already established week long party sounds pretty good to me.
Thank you Wizard World for coming to San Antonio.
River City Attractions.