GEEK SQUAD: Get Your Nerd On At Wizard World

Star Trek Costume Contest contestant Lauren Toki Gabbard as Yeoman Janice Rand

BY RICHARD SUPLEE GEEK SPACE CORRESPONDENT If you are sensing a disturbance in The Force, it’s most likely because the Philadelphia Convention Center will be home to the annual Wizard World Philadelphia from Thursday to Sunday. While Wizard World Philly is not as big as other conventions like the comic-cons in San Diego and New York, it is a fun experience for both die hard comic nerds and so-called “normal” people. Most of you reading this probably have a vague idea of what a comic book convention is. That vague image is probably just a generic gathering of undateable nerds and the comic book creators that comprise their raison d’ etre. However, a comic book convention (comic con) has a lot more variety than one may expect. Each day offer different events and panels and here are some highlights for each day.

Thursday is just a preview day, no panels or Q&As are scheduled to be held on that day. The preview does offer a chance for a person to learn their way around the comic con. The bulk of the comic con is held in a giant hall. The bulk of the floor will be filled with booths peopled with comic book store owners and other vendors where fans can buy rare comics, graphic novels, manga, trading cards, and other things nerdy-chic. Anyone interested in airsoft guns and/or decorative swords and other weaponry will find all that and more. Any gamer interested in owning a replica of The Master Sword from the “Legend of Zelda” video game series will be able to find plenty. Although the vendors will be at the con every day, the best time to make purchases will be on Sunday when vendors offer deep discounts to move as much product as they can.

The main floor will also feature a section of comic book and fantasy artists where fans can purchase original art and get it signed by the creators. The show floor is also a central gathering place to socialize and check out all the cosplayers (or people in costume). Other attractions in comic con halls include a place for attendees to play new or upcoming video games and a section for card games such as Magic The Gathering.

Thursday will also feature a “Superhero Pub Crawl” where center city bars will be offering drink specials for those in costume. Friday is the first official day of Wizard World Philly which will kick off with a number of panels and Q&As. The bulk of this year’s panels features Q&As with celebrities both in and out of the comic world. One panel that I think just about everyone will find interesting is Friday’s “Batman and Psychology” panel. The panel is made up of psychologist Travis Langley and actor Anthony Hall (The Dark Knight). The segment is supposed to delve into the psychology and motivations of Bruce Wayne in both the comics and movies. With all the interest in Batman with The Dark Knight Rises due out later this summer, expect the panel to be packed.

Aspiring artists and comic writers will have the chance to have their portfolio reviewed and to talk about how to break into the business. Friday and Saturday features artist workshops with proven comic artists Mike Deodato Jr. and Greg Cappullo respectively. Artists can also have their portfolio reviewed by these and other artists. Sunday will have a panel at 2 PM that is about getting into comics as a writer. Here writers will be able to learn some tricks of the trade.

Fans of vampires will have plenty to sink there teeth into. Stars from TV shows Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The Vampire Diaries, and Being Human will be the feature of Q&As. These Q&As are spread out throughout the comic con, with Sunday featuring “Buffyfest 20th Anniversary Q&A” at noon that includes James Masters, Kristy Swenson, Juliet Landau and other veterans of the show. Saturday at 2 PM features the Vampire Diaries Q&A with Paul Wesley and Torrey Devitto. Also, Buffy fans that have been missing the show since it went off the air should check out Buffy Season 9 comics. After the Series finale creator Joss Wheadon (director of The Avengers) took to continuing the series in comic form. Friday will also feature a panel at 3 that goes over the myth of the vampire and answer why these creatures of the night grabs our imagination.

The comic con also features plenty of panels for sci-fans, as comics and sci-fi are linked very closely with each other. Of note is the “Star Trek Captains Reunion” at 4 PM on Saturday. The panel features five Star Trek captains together for the first time.  Besides this panel, there will be a Star Wars panels along with Jedi Lightsaber Master Class where fans can be taught by Nick Gillard, a fight choreographer for the movies. The panels mentioned are just a brief preview of what you can expect at a comic con. Other events include sci-fi speed dating, costume contests, and a reading of Strawberry Shortcake for kids. There will also be WWE Superstar CM Punk for and Q&A along with other wrestlers, who are normally at comic cons. Wizard World Philly is also ideal for people who want to see what a comic convention is about but do not want to go to the giant ones in San Diego or New York.