Sweeping through South Florida like Harry Potter zooming across the quidditch field on a Firebolt comes Wizard World Comic Con, making its first-ever trip to the Broward Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, to gather thousands of fans of all ages to celebrate pop culture, movies, graphic novels, cosplay, comics, television, sci-fi, toys, video gaming, art, collectibles and more. The event, taking place Friday through Sunday, brings out comic book artists, celebrities, toy vendors and cosplay fanatics to revel in their love of popular culture in all of its many manifestations. Here are the highlights.
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Celebrity encounters are the bread and butter of these pop culture conventions, giving superfans a chance to see their favorite big and small screen characters walking the earth like average civilians and forcing them to relive moments from a job they may have done decades ago. But it’s these superfans who decide what remains culturally relevant; for example, William Shatner (Star Trek, Boston Legal), who has been forever inducted into pop culture glory, will be on site Friday and Saturday. Also on the itinerary are Q&As, panels and photo opps with Christian Kane (Leverage, The Librarians), Dean Cain (Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman), Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters), Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings, Rudy), Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk, The King of Queens), James Marsters (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Caprica), Jason David Frank (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, My Morphing Life) and five-time NBA champ Dennis Rodman.
2. Girl Power
Ladies have begun to infiltrate nerdom, as Wizard World organizers have noted attendance among women has increased dramatically over the 2 1/2 decades they have been touring the event around the country. This year women are represented on the marquee as well, with WWE Diva Natalya appearing Friday from 6-8:30 p.m., plus actress Eve Myles (Doctor Who, Torchwood, Belonging, Baker Boys) and writer Genese Davis (author The Holder’s Dominion) attending Q&As and hosting panel discussions. Artists Kayleigh Brown, Wen-Ju Chien, Jennie Crumpler, Emilyann Girdner, Olivia Reiman, Samantha Rios, Bianca Roman-Stumpff, Jenny Wang and Rene Witterstaetter will be on site as well to discuss their work.
Where would we be without the artists who visualize our favorite characters and the worlds they inhabit? Wizard World offers a chance to rub elbows with some of the creative forces in the world of comics at Artist Alley. Get up close and personal with the legendary Neal Adams (Batman, X-Men) along with Julian Totino Tedesco (X-Treme X-Men, Venom), Claudio Aboy (Heavy Metal, Marilyn), Ethan Van Sciver (Justice League, Green Lantern), Arthur Suydam (Marvel Zombies, Army of Darkness), Russel Lissau (The Batman Strikes, Old Wounds), Brad Guigar (Evil Inc., Phables) and many others.
Consider this event a dress rehearsal for Halloween, a chance for the young and old to show off their best costumes throughout the event, dressing as every imaginable character from the pop culture canon. Check out some of the best costumes at the Wizard World Costume Contest on Saturday night along with the latest get-ups by cosplay pros like Danica Rockwood, Ellei Marie, Envy Us, Nerd Bunny, Surely Shirley and others who take their cosplay game to another level. For the kids, the costume contest is on Sunday from 3:45-4:30 p.m.
5. Seminars and panels
Nerding out about your favorite pop culture phenomenon is part of the fun of conventions. Wizard World Comic Con is hosting panels and discussions on topics like how a book becomes a major motion picture; an in-depth exploration of the magic of villains; a look at the psychology of the zombie apocalypse; a workshop on creating your own story; a discussion about Bill Finger, one of the formerly uncredited co-creators of Batman; a workshop on working in the video game industry; a full screening of J.J. Sedelmaier and Robert Smigle’s The Ambiguously Gay Duo, of Saturday Night Live infamy among many other events. Check the website for the full schedule.