On Top of the Wizard World
by Jay S. Jacobs
Such a feeling is coming over us. There is wonder in most everything we see.
The reason is clear, it’s because Wizard World is back. Philly’s baby sister to San Diego and New York’s huge corporate Comic-Cons, Wizard World Philadelphia is a more intimate and easy to manage melding of the stars, the cars, the paraphernalia, the games (video and board), the cosplayers, the food and drink (all at stadium prices), the artists, the t-shirts, the movie promos, the graphic novels, the graphic costumes.
It was a return to the City of Brotherly Love of nerd nirvana.
I say that as a nerd in good standing. Hell, I even paraphrased The Carpenters in title and intro of this story – so obviously I’m a full-fledged nerd. (Shhh! Don’t tell The Fonz, who is signing autographs on aisle three!)
All of this and Kato Kaelin. OJ’s old buddy was in lighthearted insult-comic mode; good-naturedly inviting guests onto the main floor, joking with the fans, singing along with the bands, doing karaoke, flirting with Retired Wonder Woman – anything he could do to keep the party going. For those of you who only knew him from the OJ Simpson trial, the dude was surprisingly entertaining as the show’s unofficial greeter, the first thing you saw as you entered this fantasia of comics and commerce.
As always, the celeb panels were some of the most-entertaining parts of the show. You got all the best dirt in the sci-fi fantasy world. Stephen Amell admitted to his man crush on Sebastian Stan. Billy Boyd acknowledged that he got his philosophy on life from a slightly disturbingly disgusting quote Elijah Wood uttered in the film The Ice Storm years before they worked together on Lord of the Rings.
Ezra Miller insisted he wasn’t having a Flash feud with Grant Gustin – they never met but he’d love to get together someday and compare speedster notes. Fellow Justice Leaguer and local South Jersey boy (who knew?) Ray Fisher learned and performed his high-school alma mater’s new unofficial dance, the Garnet Shuffle. Sebastian Stan admitted that Margot Robbie knocked him around a bit in I, Tonya, and that he was not familiar with Stephen Sondheim’s musical Company. (You don’t find that kind of detail out anywhere else!)
Holly Marie Combs took the high road and refused to bad mouth CW’s new reboot of Charmed… but made it quite clear that she did not approve of it. At the same time, she gushed about her formative acting experiences on Picket Fences. Former American Pie star Thomas Ian Nicholas shared his love for Disney trivia (who knew?) and the fact that he and Jon Heder had played Walt and Roy Disney in a 2015 movie. (Really???)
Ironically, Henry Winkler, who spent much of his very funny talk on his life and career speaking of his learning problems growing up, had whoever made his computerized backdrop for the talk misspell his name as “Henry Winkley.” Winkler good-naturedly took it in stride and riffed off it when a fan pointed it out to him. “This person also suffers from dyslexia… Henry Winkley. That’s my new stage name. I have moved into the witness protection program. I don’t want people to forget about me, but I don’t want you to know exactly who I am.”
On the slight down side, there were a couple of no-shows from Guardians of the Galaxy – both Dave Bautista and Pom Klementieff. (I have a strange suspicion that this had something to do with the finale of Avengers: Infinity War.) Also, some of the other celebs didn’t do talks this year, where in past years everyone pretty much did. I mean, come on, how entertaining would Jon Bernthal have been, right? Or Jason Momoa? Amirite? Natalie Dormer would have slayed – literally. Couldn’t Dave Ramsey and Rick Gonzales have hopped up with Stephen Amell to give us some more straight Arrow?
However, even more fun than the fame were the fans. Decked out to the nines as their favorite characters, you saw the gamut from Cinderella to Sans. The Joker to Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Groot to Margaery Tyrell. Wolverine to the Tick. And lots and lots of Spider-Men, Harley Quinns, Deadpools and Wonder Women.
The costumes equaled the playing field, from hot girls to nerd boys, fathers to sons, DC fans to Marvel folk, Star Wars to Star Trek, everyone was welcome. Some of our favorite costumes included a Katness Fire Dress from Hunger Games, a huge Deadpool Pokémon, a near-professional grade Black Panther outfit, two killer clowns on stilts and the woman who was visionary enough to realize that if you show enough skin, you can even do a character from Tom Cruise’s version of The Mummy and no one will complain. And the Wolverine guy, a regular over the past few years, always makes the final cut, just because he looks so much like a young Hugh Jackman.
Costume parties, costume contests and just hanging out being someone else is part of the experience. (Dig the puzzled looks the cosplayers get when grabbing a bite to eat at the Reading Terminal Market across the street.) You can be your inner hero, or villain, or demonic dancing clown, or whatever you feel. Wizard World is a safe space to celebrate your inner geek.
And get lots of toys. You know the old saying: whoever has the most toys wins? Well you can find lots and lots of toys on the convention floor, everything from light sabers to insanely intricate pumpkin carving diagrams, stuffed monsters and sculptures of your favorite characters, fan art and pro art, posters, classic comics, memorabilia, all your heart desires.
Plus, for a small fee, you can pose in the Back to the Future DeLorean or Jurassic Park Jeep. There were promo areas for upcoming movies like The MEG. Graphic artists shared their latest graphic novels and paintings.
Hell, they even had a special virtual reality insurance booth, which I can’t quite figure out but somehow intrigues me nonetheless. Do you get into VI car accidents? Do virtual trees fall on your house? Does your simulated basement flood? Inquiring minds want to know…
It was a weekend of wonder, fun and over-priced sodas, a perfect melding of fantasy and finance. And now, sadly it’s over, at least until next year.
Fade to black, return to reality.
Check out more photos below by clicking on thumbnails!
Copyright ©2018 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: May 20, 2018.
Photos by Deborah Wagner, Leni Paul, Jay S. Jacobs, George Seth Wagner, Bonnie Paul and Jordan Wagner © 2018.