This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 2016 Wizard World Comic Convention in St. Louis with my girlfriend, the famous cosplay-loving daughter of WDW Daily News’ creator. It would be an understatement to say that this convention was a smorgasbord of fandoms ranging from comics to movies, games, television and everything in between. Housed in America’s Center (the stadium of the former St. Louis Rams), the convention showcases gaming, vendors, artist booths, and panels with the weekend’s special guests.
Upon first entering the convention floor, we were immersed in a dojo of competitive electronic gaming. The gaming area was cluttered with arcade consoles and PCs each playing a different yet equally immersive game. The big ticket items being promoted were the new installments of the Tekken and Dark Souls franchises. Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom were just a few of the games that pitted competitors against each other in fiery combat. One of the highlights of my experience was looking onto the giant screen on stage and seeing Lou Ferrigno test his might on Marvel vs. Capcom with the very same green brute he originated so many years ago.
Next, we were off to the Exhibitor floor and Artist’s Alley. There, I witnessed countless pieces of merchandise that I had no clue I wanted until I first saw them. I will admit, I hovered at the booth where buyers could design their own combat-grade lightsaber for what seemed like a millennia before I finally decided I had to move on. Each booth had its own crowd to cater to and variety of products to offer. One aspect that surprised me the most was the popularity of the mystery boxed items, guaranteeing at least a certain price equivalent in assorted convention goodies. On the other side of the dome was where artists showcased their crafts for sale. Most artists specialized in art prints of the fandoms they belonged to in their own unique artistic style. Although I was a bit skeptical at first, I eventually caved and purchased a few pieces of art that suited my particular tastes.
Celebrity guest headliners of this weekend in St. Louis included Doctor Who cast members, Wizard World veterans, and crowd favorites David Tennant, Matt Smith and Billie Piper. Representing Netflix’s new hit shows based on Marvel comics were Charlie Cox and Elden Henson of Daredevil, and Mike Colter of Jessica Jones and the upcoming Luke Cage. Other guests such as William Shatner, Lou Ferrigno, James Marsters and many other icons of television and comics graced the convention with their presence. We decided to attend and thoroughly enjoyed the Daredevil panel, as I had recently become a fan of the show. The celebrity panels are a great way to see some of your favorite actors and artists outside of the world you know them, and in some cases can give you a whole new appreciation for their work.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the reason why many of us go to these conventions. The fan-made costumes were phenomenal. I even got in on the action on Saturday and it was mind-blowing. Of course, that tends to happen when Deadpool asks to take a picture with you and your girlfriend in costume. And even if the costumes don’t get you, some of the clever t-shirts that others wear might do the trick. Truly the best part of the weekend was the costume contest, where contestants were paraded across a stage to display their hard work for the adoring masses. Whether or not you dress up, watching peoples’ faces light up as they recognize a character and ask for their picture is a treat all its own.
I recommend a Wizard World Convention to anyone wanting to satisfy their inner geek. There are still 13 more Wizard World conventions scheduled across the country for the rest of 2016, with the next coming to Madison, Wisconsin from April 8-10. No matter where you are, there is a Wizard World coming to a city near you. Go online to www.wizardworld.com for more information on events and how to purchase tickets. Hope to see you at the next one!