Fans of movies, comic books, anime, video games, card games and pretty much anything else pop culture related descended upon the Reno-Sparks Convention Center for the first-ever Wizard World Comic Con held in Reno, Nevada on Nov. 21-23. Wizard World, Inc. produces pop culture and live multimedia conventions in North America, providing a social networking and entertainment venue for popular fiction enthusiasts of movies, TV shows, video games, technology, toys, social networking/gaming platforms, comic books, graphic novels and entertainment, according to the their informational form given out at the convention.
“Thank you, thank you thank you for welcoming Wizard World into your city and your hearts, and we are so grateful and so thankful to be here so my first round of applause is to you. I live in California, so I’ve been coming to Reno for the last 30 years and I think it’s just one of the great places to come to and this company is so excited to be here,” said Wizard World CEO John Macaluso. “Our job is to give you a really fantastic show. [To] Give you great celebrities and artists and creators and great vendors, and really tell us that you want us to come back again next year and give you an even bigger better show, and that’s what we’re going to try and do for all of you so thank you very much for letting us be here.”
Attendees of the convention, the first-ever Wizard World for Reno and the first big convention for the region, could wander the convention floor to check out all the various booths that were set up. Many of the booths contained vendors that were selling everything from comics to shirts to toys, to artwork to even customized pillows and cases. Those not as interested in the vendors selling things could visit the table of various artists, from names that are big in the industry to artists that are just starting out in the business trying to gain a name for themselves.
For many, there was an even bigger draw. While getting to hang out with those that are fans of many of the same things you are is a huge draw to conventions, alongside all the pop culture stuff one can buy to take home, it’s the celebrities that hold a big draw for many.
Getting the chance to talk to, shake the hand of, take a photo or just gush over the star of your favorite entertainment choice is a hard one to pass up. Celebrity guests in Reno included Norman Reedus, Scott Wilson, Jon Bernthal and Andrew J. West of “The Walking Dead”, Jewel Staite (“Firefly”), Karen Gillan (“Doctor Who”), William Shatner and Walter Koenig (“Star Trek”), Michael Rooker (“Guardians of the Galaxy”), Bruce Campbell (“Evil Dead”), Sean Patrick Flanery (“The Boondock Saints”), Lou Ferrigno (“The Incredible Hulk”) and many more.
“It’s an honor to be here…I look forward to meeting all of you guys, and thanks for having us. It’s gonna be a kick-ass time,” Flanery said.
Flanery and Ferrigno, along with Jason David Frank (“The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers”) stood alongside Macaluso for the opening ceremonies on Nov. 21. The three are not only staples of the Wizard World Conventions but are friends of Macaluso.
“I’m very proud that we got a great show here because you guys need something light to come to, fun and exciting, nothing to do with drugs, sex or violence,” Ferrigno said. “It’s positive, extraordinary, exhilarating, there’s going to be wonderful movie stars here with me…thank you so much, look forward to meeting you all.”
Never one to shy away from social media, Frank made sure to get a crowd video shot for Instagram before taking the microphone to thank the crowd.
“I want to thank you guys for coming out, it’s an honor to be here. It’s my first time in Reno, very excited about it. Get to see all my wonderful friends that are awesome, so I’m very blessed to be up here,” Frank said.
Long lines waited on Friday for entry, cheering as the doors to the floor opened and their fun-filled weekend could begin. While the majority of panels, many of them featuring the one on one sessions with the celebrity guests, were on Saturday, there was plenty to draw fans in on the other two days. Sessions of Sci-fi speed dating, panels on cosplay, about the decade of zombies in pop culture, X-Men as a cultural mirror, one on Star Trek and Star Wars, even a Video Game Symphony on the final day.
Senior editor Nick Lowe from Marvel Comics even showed up to speak to fans about the latest Spider-Man event happening across their comic line, “Spider-Verse.”
Those that were ready to show off their latest costume could enter the Wizard World Costume Contest held on Nov. 22, where over 100 individuals and groups flexed and posed their way across the stage.
The one thing that can be said about conventions is that there is never a dull moment. Even in the moments where one might want to find a table and plop down to rest, at last, maybe grab a bite to eat, there is always something entertaining. Whether it’s speaking to your fellow convention attendees or checking out all the amazing costumed individuals passing by, it’s an experience that almost can’t be described.
“We’re delighted to have a world class event like this here, in beautiful Reno-Sparks, Nevada,” said President and CEO of the Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority Chris Baum. “I think the enthusiasm Reno has showed for this event really shows that it’s going to be a great first year, hope to have a great second, third year, fourth year and on and one. So thanks for being here, thanks for your support, and thanks to Comic-Con for having faith in Reno.”
After a successful first go in Reno, Wizard World has already announced they’ll be back to the Biggest Little City in the World next year, on Nov. 20-22. If you haven’t been to a convention before and are in the area, it might be time to give it a try.