PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — An experience I won’t soon forget, that’s how I would best sum up my time at Wizard World Comic Con.
It was my first time at the Portland convention — or any like it, for that matter. I spent all of Sunday there, along with thousands of excited fans ready to celebrate their favorite pop culture icons.
My goal was simple: do as much as possible, turn down nothing, get the most out of my time in the hopes that (for those thinking about going next year) I might gather some helpful tips.
Here…is what I learned.Holy Cow, Is This Thing Big
I expected a lot of people in a lot of places, but seeing it is a different thing. Waves of people constantly flow in and out of every nook and cranny of the Oregon Convention Center.
Superman, Scarface, characters from The Walking Dead, the occasional actual actor from The Walking Dead, they’re all there, moving along among some very enthusiastic crowds.
At first, it feels overwhelming — I had to sit down and review my schedule again when I got there just to sort of gather myself — but then you realize “hey, no one’s rushing and everyone’s really happy.”
In fact, I couldn’t help but be reminded of camp. A lot of high-fives, free hugs and talking with strangers. It doesn’t take long to realize everyone’s tapped into that child-like part of themselves, and it’s great.
But again, it’s big, and with this being only its third year here in Portland, chances are next year it will be even busier.Everyone’s Dressed Up
Maybe not everyone, but it sure feels like it.
The great thing, though, it never felt like a competition (there was a costume contest the night before); people seemed to just enjoy what others chose to dress themselves in.
And as I had traded in my sash and foam hammer for a button-down and a camera, I was a bit apprehensive I might get a few judgmental looks. But nope, didn’t get one.
Money, Money, Money
Just under the surface of all the cosplay and celebrity panels, there’s the commercial side of conventions like these, and at Wizard World, business is good.
Want to get a tattoo? Step right up. Rare comics and memorabilia? Plenty of that. How about some caricature art? Sure, why not!
The amount of stuff you can spend money on is basically endless, and that’s not counting food, autographs and photo ops.
Or the even more unique aspects of the convention: miniature drones, knives and swords of all shapes and sizes (still unsure whether those were real or not), and yes, speed dating.
I broke my Wizard World rule of going, doing and trying when it came to speed dating.
Not that I wouldn’t have gone through with it, I was willing to and was actually in my seat, but upon finding out it was a $20 event, I bolted for cheaper endeavors.You Get To Meet Famous People
As I mentioned before, there are plenty of opportunities for photos and signings, but the real value’s in the panels, where — at least for the ones I attended — an actor holds a Q & A session with a fairly small audience.
The panels were one of the main reasons I chose to attend on Sunday, rather than Friday or Saturday, which I’m told tends to be even livelier.
Starting at noon, a nearly back-to-back-to-back grouping of actors from some of my favorite shows had sit-downs ranging from 30 to 45 minutes: Eliza Dushku, for those Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans; Sarah Wayne Callies, who played Lori Grimes on The Walking Dead; and the incredibly entertaining Michael Rooker, whose star is shining brightly after his roles on The Walking Dead and Guardians of the Galaxy.
I found each actor extremely down-to-earth and comfortable, as if they were among “their people” and they knew it.
Dushku was funny, and answered her questions with more candor than I was expecting. Callies spoke lovingly of her former TWD and Prison Break castmates, and Rooker, well he deserves his own paragraph.
From moment one, Rooker captivated that room, and within just a couple of minutes he was taking his microphone into the audience.
“Who’s your favorite actor to work with? None of them.” “What were some of your favorite moments working with X director? The times when he wasn’t telling me to do stuff.” It went like that the entire half-hour.Enjoy The Circus
There’s so much going on, so much I wasn’t able to do. And that was just in one day, I imagine the lines of fantasy and reality would begin to blur with a couple more days. Not to mention how weird that Monday grind would feel.
Still, my advice: go to Wizard World next year, and try to do as much as you can. It’s worth it.