Saint Louis Gets It's First Major Comic Con...
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Back in the late '90s Wizard World (and Wizard Magazine for that matter) was a powerhouse in the comics industry, boasting one of the biggest conventions in the country with Wizard World Chicago. The experience at the convention in it's heyday was a momentous occasion which brought out appearances from big comics companies and toy companies such as Mattel and NECA, who often had exclusive collectibles for convention goers. I can remember when the 2000 series Masters of the Universe line of popular and they had a Keldor and She-ra in back to back years and in order to buy one you had to have the right raffle ticket. Movie companies would hand out t-shirts and many booths had all kinds of sweet free swag. When celebrities were attending which they always were and in great numbers, it was a more personal experience, and often you could walk right up to people like Ray Park and chat, take pictures, get autographs, etc. and they were almost always welcoming. So as someone who made return trips to Chicago in the past, I can attest that Wizard World was an awesome experience.
Cut to today. The Wizard World convention of now is a very different animal than it once was. Maybe I am spoiled by multiple trips to the big comic-con in San Diego, but I myself missed the pizazz that I once felt when I walked through the doors to convention. But to quote Sheldon "It's a comic book convention. You know, it's like pizza or particle accelerators, even the stinky one's still pretty good." Don't get me wrong, I have alot of positive things to say about the convention in it's first night, which began with a welcoming party of superheroes as "Who Wants To Be A Superhero" alumni Jarret Crippen aka The Defuser worked the crowd into a frenzy as they made their way into the convention. The main hall is dotted with vendor booths of all kinds, from toy dealers and t-shirt stands, to Steampunk wares and jewelry there is something for everyone. It was refreshing to see the small press and artists booths taking up a sizeable portion of the show floor with some really outstanding work from a talented group of people including comic world celebs Neal Adams and zombie-artist Arthur Suydam, who's variant cover for issue #1 of The Walking Dead quickly ran out and was being bought en masse at the dealer tables. The biggest presence on the show floor in terms of size were the Stylin' Online booths, who appear at almost every con with their mega-shirt stand and Lion Forge, a new digital comics company that started in the last year. Another highlight of the show is the appearance of World Event Productions, the Saint Louis company responsible for Voltron, with their giant Voltron statue set-up for pictures. There was also a ton of great costumes, with an appearance by professional cosplayer Ivy Doomkitty, but the best are yet to come with the Adult costume contest happening on Saturday.
Once you make your way through the artist and dealer booths, you get to the Celebrity & Guests area. The first thing you will notice is the big signs every 5 feet that say "NO PICTURES". Unlike the past, you can no longer take celeb photos or pose for pics while you're getting an autograph. Now you have to purchase a separate, additional ticket to have a studio photo with the guest. So parents with multiple children should beware, for example, getting a autograph/photo with Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian). It's $40 for each autograph and $50 for a photo. While they do allow you up to two people per photo, I hope you don't have three kids. One thing I do have to commend Wizard World for is the children's ticketing. Families can have up to two children (10 or under) get in for free with each adult admission, so it's a great weekend activity for families looking for something to do this weekend, especially in St. Louis where we are used to having alot of free activities available to us.
Overall, the first day felt much like preview night at San Diego Comic-Con where you just kind of absorb everything and get over the "pop" culture shock. While there were a few programming panels, the majority of the events, including celebrity meet and greets, happen on Saturday and Sunday (Children's Day).
Continue to check our gallery HERE throughout the weekend for new photos from the con!