After spending three straight days rubbing elbows with tens of thousands of costumed fans, drooling over dozens of high-profile celebrities and spending two months' rent on sketches and t-shirts, we may need to take a short breather from the comic book world.
But, by Thor's hammer, Wizard World was quite the journey.
A traveling comic con that combines nerdery with general pop culture (See our cover feature for the company's back story), Wizard World returned to St. Louis for its second three-day visit April 4-6. Record crowds pushed the event from the America's Center into the Edward Jones Dome, and it was obvious that the region was still thirsty after tasting Wizard World wine for the first time in 2013.
With a bigger registration/photo op/show stage area happening in one of the large halls, "We're here, plus in three more halls, the Dome and the Ferrara Theatre," Wizard World PR director Jerry Milani told Daily RFT. "It just keeps growing, and St. Louis has been good to us." Milani told us that Wizard World has at least 20 events planned for 2015, with next year's convention in St. Louis happening May 15-17.
At a convention like this, it's impossible to see or do everything -- there are activities, panels, meet-and-greets, photo areas, contests and merch tables available nearly 'round the clock and concurrently, and we missed out on things like the Doctor Who panels and nerd-focused speed dating.
But three Q&As clearly stood out to us among the weekend's many top opportunities.
Click to the next page to read about the horrifying phone call Bruce Campbell made to some random guy's wife.
Bruce Campbell scares some dude's wife.
If you've seen any of Bruce Campbell's films like The Evil Dead or Man with the Screaming Brain, you know that the actor has a deliciously sick sense of humor. So when he and longtime friend and costar Ted Raimi turned the tables on the Ferrara Theatre audience to play a crazy game of "YOU Be the Panel," we knew we were in for a treat. Campbell and Raimi invited audience members to the stage for beratement and odd questions, including ones about losing virginity and, ahem, working with wood. But things got really interesting when a computer forensics investigator walked onstage and attempted to show Campbell a photo on his phone. Campbell demanded that the man dial his wife before stealing the phone, telling her in a chilling southern accent, "I'm here with your husband. You'll never see him again," and then hanging up. The frightened wife called back a few seconds later, and Campbell took the phone again. "Did you think I was kidding?"
Campbell also poked fun at another Wizard World guest who was scheduled to take the stage over the weekend. "Oh, Nathan Fillion, he's so handsome," Campbell said in his best fangirl voice. "You shut the hell up about Nathan Fillion. He's gayer than hell, and he's tried to hit on me many times."
Tech N9ne admits his love for "Hammer pants."
We didn't know what to expect when we walked into the "When Comics and Music Collide" panel featuring Kansas City rapper Tech N9ne and acclaimed comic book and airbrush artist Rob Prior, but the last-minute decision to stop by proved to be a good one.
The duo spoke about how they've been creating art together for some time now, with Prior painting live on stage while Tech N9ne performs songs like "Fragile" and "Worldwide Choppers." Tech N9ne also shared his crazy fashion sense over the years, copping to having a "giant box afro with a big red streak down the middle" and also wearing "Hammer pants." Tech N9ne and Prior were the special guests at the Wizard World after-party on Saturday, giving away 20 of their limited-edition collaborative prints.
Continue for the best use of hemorrhoid wipes at any convention ever.
Alan Tudyk gives a fan butt wipes.
Firefly may have been cancelled prematurely, but for Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin and Alan Tudyk, the camaraderie still is going strong more than a decade later. Fillion, who currently stars in Castle, opened the Q&A with some sentimentality, saying that none of the actors on the stage has had as good of a time on any other show as they did on Joss Whedon's Firefly. But it wasn't long before the friends started cracking the audience -- and each other -- up and spilling secrets.
Fillion said that another installment of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog was in the works (Fillion plays the title character's nemesis Captain Hammer), plus he hinted at nabbing a part in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy, directed by St. Louis native James Gunn. Tudyk, who said that another Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil movie is in the outline stage, divulged that he recently had an awkward meeting with the woman who is widely known for ordering Firefly's cancellation (and also had given the show its opportunity). "She's got a chip on her shoulder about it," Tudyk said.
But this was no ordinary Q&A. After each question from the audience, the trio gave out signed mementos. While there were a few DVDs and photos in the pile, Tudyk was more excited to hand over magnets, a pair of Fillion's gloves, an empty Perrier bottle and a bag of chocolate. But the trinket that Tudyk most seemed to enjoy doling out was a Preparation H medicated wipe. "That's a butt wipe," Tudyk told the lucky recipient. Baldwin then picked one up and wiped his face with it, claiming, "You can use these things to cure the bags under your eyes."
See also: Film Fashion at Wizard World 2014
- The Wizard World programming guide, free upon picking up your wristband, was a nice keepsake bonus. It was filled with ads, of course, but it also provided maps and plenty of information about the weekend's events. Made of sturdy, glossy stock, it won't go into the trash bin anytime soon.
- The Dome was packed with what felt like neverending opportunities to lay down some cash. There were many, many more merch booths than there were last year, and despite the Dome's size, the space felt a little tight. We were a little overwhelmed by the size of it all.
- It was difficult to find Artists Alley -- the concentration of comic book writers, inkers, letterers and more. Pushed to the far side of the Dome with little signage, these artists were easy to overlook. Last year, the artists were in the center of the floor in the path of the celebrity lines, which generated plenty of interest and profit. This year, a dozen aisles of merchandise was front and center, and the artists we spoke with weren't seeing much traffic.
- The primo celebrities like Matt Smith of Doctor Who and William Shatner of Star Trek held court in the Ferrara Theatre, but many fans were turned away once the space reached capacity. Wizard World then provided a live video feed from those panels on a jumbo screen in the registration area so diehard fans didn't have to miss out completely.
- Adam West, who played the title character in the Batman TV series from the '60s, said that his costume had three or four zippers and a bunch of snaps. "It took 10 minutes to go to the bathroom." St. Louis mayor Francis Slay proclaimed April 4 as "Batman and Robin Day."
- During the Q&A with Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes) and Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead), audience members kept using their time at the mic to recommend St. Louis dishes and restaurants, with Imo's pizza and toasted ravioli getting the most promotion (and often the most boos).
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.