Our coverage begins a day before the Wizard World Cleveland Comic Convention actually began with Thursday’s press reception at the Hard Rock Café downtown. Along with field agent, Shawna Supernova, we hit the iced over streets and made it in time to catch Jay and Silent Bob’s Jason Mewes milling through the packed restaurant, futzing with his manbun and talking with guests while Jason David Frank, the original green Power Ranger, did much the same. We got a seat at the bar, cashed in our drink tickets and worked over the buffet while the panel took the stage.
Cas Anvar, the voice from the Assassin’s Creed video games as well as several acting roles was introduced. He was followed by the blond cop from 1970’s television hit, CHiPS, Larry Wilcox, with Jason Mewes and Jason David Frank in tow. There was a perfunctory Q and A session that started as a blasé primer for the weekend but became more personal when Mewes recounted his five years sobriety and what the change meant to his career. We also learned that Clerks 3 is held up because the actor who played Randall is otherwise busy, hence Mallrats 2 instead. Wilcox was openly against the idea of a CHiPS reboot, which is apparently happening. The brief panel ended with the reluctant admission that Wilcox and David Frank may or may not have used their celebrity to get out speeding tickets over the years. Mahall’s served as the site for our own personal after party, replete with the saltiest chicken in the world and a few frames of bowling. In interest of full disclosure, I was resoundingly defeated by Supernova’s (high?) game of eighty-two.
We started Day 1 of the con at the Diner on Clifton, getting in as many more plates as possible before their move. Six cups of coffee, a plate of eggs Benedict and a big ass chicken pot pie later, we made it into downtown. Mini Deadpools and ornate anime princesses traipsed along Lakeside Avenue as they made their way into the convention center. Inside, rows upon rows held eager vendors and artists, carnival barkers and models of the unique and fantastic. Sure, there were comics to buy, and buy I did! But there were also start up movies being marketed, independent novels pitched and a 3-d printer demonstration. Unique items for sale included, but were not limited to, rings, glasses, shirts, posters, ‘period panties’ with designs specifically for that time of the month, old timey sodas, fudge, leatherwares, stuffed monsters, katanas, and sculptures. Artists hosted tables, showcasing every imaginable style of art in their pop culture renditions.
Independent painters and pencilers sold amazing prints for pennies on the dollar, eager for exposure. I picked up a signed print from comics legend, Neil Adams, who held center court over Artist Alley. Adams made Batman who he was during the seventies and his list of contributions to the field is rivaled only to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
Speaking of Batman, the Batmobile from the 1966 Adam West series was there in all its black and red high-gloss glory. As was a mini-cooper modified into an impressive variation of the Ghostbusters car, a Buick with a trunk full of zombie slaying tools, and a Jurassic Park styled Jeep. Cosplayers were there in full effect. Some of the more impressive ones were Joker and Harley, ‘70’s era Thor, this gang featured in the thumbnails straight out of Game of Thrones, and Batman and Catwoman, who backed up this girl after she got into a fight with the uncomfortable boyfriend on the left. While most were more than happy to pose for pictures, it seemed almost fitting that atheist
Spock charged two dollars while the smiling Jesus accepted donations for charity.
Shawna and I dropped in on some of the featured panels that were also being held. Bedford high school put on a discussion covering gender and race in comics before the Nasa Glenn Research facility put on a discussion regarding the science behind Superman’s powers and origin in preparation of their seventy-fifth anniversary celebration coming in May. I checked in with the gang from Apama, Cleveland’s own superhero, who we will feature in the upcoming issue of Pressure Life magazine. While my interview with Walking Dead’s Michael Rooker never materialized, Shawna worked behind the scenes on Robert Kirkman’s other new show, Outcast, and was able to score me time with cast member, Brent Spiner, who also starred as Star Trek’s, Data. Our conversation was spontaneous and a real treat- check out the full interview coming out later this week!
After a few trips to the bar and several of their signature cocktails, Yodas, Shawna and I made a few more laps, picking up some last minute art and comic books before hunkering down later for Hawaiian pizza and a screening of Angelheart on Netflix. (FYI, DeNiro with long, pressed hair, pointy manicured nails and pentagram rings is bonkers creepy).
I decided to go back for the final day of the convention on Sunday afternoon thinking I could clean up on some last minute sales but the up-jumped parking sales and predatory ATM fees kind of made it all a wash. What a difference a few days make. Here’s a tip, if you’re going to a convention- go early. By Sunday much of the vendors and talent were running on fumes from the long weekend of sales and showmanship. Much of the Sunday crowd milled about with a listless ennui, with no one wanting to go back to real world of their capeless Monday morning day jobs. The final day closed out with some VIP ticket holders getting a chance to pose with various Dr. Who alumni and talent from Marvel’s Agents of Shield.
All in all, I had a fantastic time at the Wizard World show. This is the second year that the larger corporation has taken over the proceedings and while the change can be felt in the ticket prices, they put on a quite a show. From beginning to end, the event was well orchestrated and entertaining. Credit should be given for the wide variety of merchandise, foods, and art that were featured. After several passes through the venue we were still finding new things to ooh and aww at. My thanks goes out to the staff at Wizard World for showing me a good time, the fans who posed for pictures, the vendors and artists who took the time to chat, and Brent Spiner for his time.
Check in here throughout the week for more exclusive comic con coverage including my exclusive interview with the star of Robert Kirkman’s Outcast and Star Trek legend, Brent Spiner; and the week’s top 5 comic con moments!