15th anniversary of Comic Con is here

Print This Page

First Posted: 5/5/2015

Every spring Philadelphia’s Convention Center transforms into a mecca of pop culture. This year, from May 7 to 10, Wizard World’s Comic Con is celebrating its 15th anniversary with four days of panels featuring celebrities, photo opportunities and the chance to geek out over pop culture.

Comic Con is no longer just for fans of sci-fi, fantasy and comics. WWE superstars including Roman Reigns and Diva Paige will be there for Q&As, photo ops and autographs. Sports stars such as Allen Iverson, the former 76er, and Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks will appear on Saturday.

This might be strange for an event called Comic Con, however, Jerry Milani, Public Relations Manager of Wizard World said, “The show is all elements of pop culture. It’s not the same exact people who are coming to see Lou Ferrigno or Michael Golden the artist (or) WWE (stars). Our show expands the base of fandom. It’s not just the people who like sci-fi and comics, although that’s always the basis of what we do. It’s called Comic Con, after all, even though we are a pop culture con.”

Philly may not be San Diego, which hosts the famous annual Comic Con, but it’s a seriously cool event for fans of multiple forms of entertainment.

Milani explains, “Everyone can have something to do. If you bring a family of four, not everyone might be comic book fans, but maybe they watch “Castle”or “Gotham” or “Doctor Who” or maybe they saw “Smokey and the Bandit.” Or maybe they love the WWE. You probably have someone in that group that likes “Machete.” There’s certain things that everyone can enjoy at our show.

Celebrities abound at the Convention Center. For the first time, Burt Reynolds will appear at a Wizard World Comic Con. Fans can pose in a replica of the car he drove in “Smokey and the Bandit.” Replicas of General Lee from “Dukes of Hazzard” and the 1966 Batmobile will be there.

But of course, the celebs are the real draws.

“We don’t have that many repeats,” Milani shares. “Very few of the celebrities that came last year are here this year. Lou Ferrigno can go anywhere at any time and draw a big crowd, but almost every celebrity who’s at the show this year was not at last year’s show.”

For the sci-fi crowd, the big draws are David Tennant and Billie Piper from “Doctor Who.” The Tenth Doctor and his companion have never appeared in America together and will be available for autographs and photo ops, as well as a panel on Saturday.

The weekend will include panels with most of the celebrity guests and movie screenings and panels with artists and writers. “We’ll have six or seven rooms with different programs going on,” Milani said. “That’s Q&As with celebrities (and) artists doing sessions with people learning to break into the business. We’ll have all (this) fun programming that’s really expanded in the last couple years.”

Milani assures returning guests the core elements of Wizard World Comic Con remains the same.

“Everything is in one room, other than the programming. Let’s say you’re interested in meeting Lou Ferrigno because you love the Hulk. You walk in, you’re going to run into a vendor who has some stuff you’ve never seen before with the Hulk on it, you’re going to see an artist that might have a unique interpretation of the Hulk and you’ll see fans dressed as the Hulk and She Hulk. By the time you’ve gotten to Lou, you’ve already experienced all these different Hulk things and then Lou caps it off. The whole idea of our show is that you’re immersed in all the areas of pop culture and all the different things we have to offer, all in one place.”

This year, Wizard World is using even more of the Convention Center’s space.

“We’ve expanded the spaces and expanded the offerings,” Milani said. “You’re not going to be overwhelmed in the sense that you can’t ever see everything that you want to see. It might take a couple of days because there’s so much but it’s not like you’re not going to be able to do something because there are too many people. Most of (our celebrities) are there three days. They’re there the whole time so if you miss Karl Urban on Friday, you (can) also see him Saturday and Sunday. Panels and photo ops are certain times (but) people work their schedule around that. There’s a lot of different things going on all the time and there’s really something for everyone.”

There are more than 120 panels scheduled. This includes interactive Q&As with Danny Trejo from “Machete,” Cary Elwes from “The Princess Bride,” Karl Urban (“Star Trek” and “Lord of the Rings”), Stephen Amell (“Arrow”), Burt Reynolds and Michael Rooker (“Guardians of the Galaxy” and “The Walking Dead”). Aside from celebrities, the new M. Night Shyamalan mini-series “Wayward Pines” will be screened, there will be costume contests and sci-fi speed dating.

While some of the programs cost extra, most are included as part of the general admission.

Photo ops and autographs are extra.

Ultimately, the event promises to be a very nerdy weekend for all types of fans.