It’s A Wizard World After All: Comic Con 2018

Charlotte Mandy, Editor

Year after year, nerds (myself among them) flock to the Philadelphia to celebrate and buy their favorite comics and merchandise and to dress up in their renowned nerdery. Young and old from coast to coast find time to spend anywhere from a day to a full weekend in a hall packed with casual fans, hard-core collectors, cosplayers, and celebrity guests. All for the love of popular culture! The allure of some light-hearted escapism brings in tens of thousands, many vying for a chance to get pictures with Gandalf, Wonder Woman, or some other fiction sprung to life. In full costume as Marvel’s Loki, ridiculous helmet and all, I was stopped over thirty times by those asking for a photo (yes, I kept count). This is a day when introverts become extroverts.

Admission can cost anywhere from fifty dollars for a ticket in, to a several hundred dollars for those eager to meet celebrities from films, music, and other walks of life. At Wizard World Philly 2018, notable guests were Sebastian Stan (Captain America franchise), Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit), Jason Momoa (Aquaman, Justice League, Game of Thrones), Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones, The Tudors) and many others.

Such an extravagant event is not new. The first comic conventions started in the late sixties and early seventies as smaller gatherings of comic enthusiasts; they now spring up in cities all across the country and the world.

On Sunday, May 20th, the day I attended, one of the comic book sellers I observed was sleeping in the corner of his booth, a testament to the fact that the focus of the conventions has evolved and shifted into other media. Still, the heart of the event remains the same. Stacks of comics, vintage and recent together, tower over many tables; a fort of T-shirts dominates the center aisle; signed portraits and other memorabilia from popular shows and movies make for precarious but colorful mazes.

It’s like a festival, a library, Halloween, Renaissance Faire, and a movie set all opened up shop in a warehouse. And it’s incredibly fun.

The spirit of the event is evident in all interactions. All but the most important social barriers are disposed of as people approach and talk to each other like old friends, simply because they recognize their costume or shirt. Artists are verbally delighted when their work is complemented, especially if it depicts something a little more obscure. Even on a ridiculously hot day with thunder looming outside, people gambol about in insanely complicated foam and plastic creations–an Iron Man here, a Hobbit or two there.

“I really loved being surrounded by such a familiar and comfortable environment,” says Wizard World Comic Con attendee Samuel, “where expressing yourself through creative and wacky outlets isn’t just accepted, but encouraged.”

Another, Marlowe, comments on that feeling of finding something that you wanted at the con, whether it’s part of a particular character or just a general interest, saying that some of their most prized possessions were beautiful pieces she purchased at conventions. “The people are always so wonderful,” Marlowe adds. “An artist even gave me a poster for less than the regular cost because I was so excited to have found the exact thing I’d been looking for.”

The Report’s own Editor-in-Chief Sean Etter happens to have attended the convention for his first time this year. “It was so awesome to see all the people who work in the comics and animation industries,” he says and gives a shout out to some of the excellent cosplayers as well, an amazing Iron Man in particular. “I loved seeing everyone was here enjoying the things they loved without having to worry about being criticized or made fun of by others for liking these things.”

Being called a “nerd” has been reclaimed by the nerds. This is the epitome of that; a culture of people who, for a few days, dispense of the grim monotony of life outside and enjoy a bit of color and awe. Wizard World and other such events can only get bigger as the scope of the media celebrated expands into other genres and groups of fans. Here’s to many more years of stepping through a door from Philadelphia into another world.

Yours truly is the spiky one in the middle. Hela is Tim Rosser @nycteris_artistry, and N. LeVasseur @lava_cosplay49 is Thor.