And We Say To Ourselves, What a Wizard World
Wizard World Philadelphia Comic-Con – Philadelphia Convention Center – Philadelphia, PA – June 2-5, 2016
You know the old song that goes “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right”? Well what if those clowns are Pennywise the Dancing Clown and the jokers are… well, the Joker. What does that say about there you are?
Probably that you’re at Wizard World Philadelphia Comic-Con, where your favorite characters – or at least reasonable facsimiles of them – are everywhere you look. Wizard World is where cosplay meets commerce, where thousands of hardcore fans get all geeked up to celebrate the best of fantasy and sci-fi. Men dress as stone-cold killers and women dress as red-hot killers.
Though not quite as well-known as its San Diego and New York Comic-Con cousins, the City of Brotherly Love made sure to lay out the red carpet and had its best year yet. It has become a humongous beast which has taken over all three stories of Philly’s three-block-long Convention Center, from the cavernous main floor, to the downstairs chats from designers, artists and game-makers, to the upstairs superstar chat fests.
Celebs crowded the joint – including, but not limited to Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Michael J Fox, David Duchovny, Stephen Amell, Tom Hiddleston, Stanley Tucci, Christopher Lloyd, and many more. Saturday alone was a wild orgy of celeb-stuffed panels, the casts of Captain America, Back to the Future, Thor, The Arrow, The X-Files, Agent Carter and more, speaking entertainingly about their lives in Hollywood and taking questions from the crowds. (One entertaining kid in a Spider-Man outfit ended up pretty much hijacking the X-Files talk when David Duchovny invited him up to help them answer questions.)
There were concerts and costume contests and anything else to keep a sensation-starved group of fans wildly entertained.
Artwork, t-shirts, memorabilia, graphic novels, toys, posters and “Redrum” panties crowd the tables and booths, all swollen with merchandise. Famous rides, like the Batmobile, the General Lee, the Ghostbusters hearse and of course the Back to the Future De Lorean crowd the aisles. (And you can get a picture inside one for just $10.00!) Lines for autographs and photo ops with the stars snake back and forth throughout the center, but no one seems unhappy to be waiting.
But if you got tired, there were gaming floors, concession stands, a DJ (playing mostly sci-fi themed dance music) and lectures. Or, you could be like one of the many fans who ended up taking a load off by sitting by the walls of the room, or grabbing a bench in the convention center, or even slipping across the street to get a bite at the Reading Terminal Market.
However, perhaps the most entertaining part of the day were the fans themselves. Wildly garbed as their favorite characters – we rode down in a train with a particularly hearty group of fans who did not feel the least self-conscious taking public transit dressed as Deadpool, Harley Quinn and the Joker amongst the nervous commuters – they luxuriated in the wondrous fantasy of being someone else, if only for a while. Happy to pose for you (just ask!), they posed, and preened, and play-fought, and just enjoyed being star for a day.
To be completely honest, Wizard World Philly had the feel of the old-school San Diego Comic-Con, bursting at the seams with fun and yet not quite so out-of-control large that you can barely see anything or get anything done.
If they keep throwing parties like this, it is only a matter of time before the Philadelphia convention is as wildly overstuffed as their San Diego compatriots. Which is in itself both a good thing and bad, while it is a great thing to be a bombshell event, Philadelphia still has a bit of hominess and is not quite so overwhelming. Here’s to hoping they are able to keep up that terrific balancing act for years to come.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2016 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: June 6, 2016.
Photos ©2016 Deborah Wagner.