Recap and Photo Highlights from Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con 2014
While the previous weekend was filled with two pop culture festivals focused squarely on comic books — New York Comic Fest and Special Edition: NYC — this past weekend Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con brought a broader spectrum of popular culture activities to the mid-Atlantic region. With an approach modeled after the large U.S. comic cons such as Comic-Con International’s San Diego Comic-Con and ReedPop’s New York Comic Con, the Wizard World event offered something for fans of everything from comic books to television shows, movies, video games, and more.
It also provided evidence that the current mania over all things pop culture shows no signs of slowing.
The 14th annual Philadelphia Wizard World occupied twice the floor space of last year’s event, according to Wizard World Public Relations Manager Jerry Milani. Stepping into the main exhibit hall, the increase in scale was apparent, with vendor booths, artists’ tables, and autograph signing stations extending far across the Convention Center’s Halls A through D. In addition to the “VIP” lines for those who paid extra for early access to the show, the general audience line filled a large swath of the Convention Center’s cavernous Hall F.
Of the 16 comic cons run by Wizard World, Philadelphia is now second only to the company’s Chicago show. This year’s Philly event was bigger than last year’s Wizard World Chicago, although Milani expects the upcoming 2014 Chicago event to leapfrog over Philadelphia.
Not only was the exhibition hall larger than last year, it was also more focused on matters of popular culture. There was little evidence of the type of vendors unrelated to fan culture that were scattered across the floor last year. (See: “Philadelphia Comic Con: Batman, Buffy and … Bath Fitter?“). Symantec made a return visit, again with a popular media tie-in (this year the X-Men in contrast to last year’s affiliation with Superman). And there were booths promoting conventional media, including the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, The City Paper, and the local Channel 6 ABC TV affiliate. In general, however, the vendor exhibits were largely aligned with the interests of pop culture fandom.
The show’s programming was also expanded from last year with 120 panels, presentations, film screenings, and fan events over the comic con’s four days. Saturday’s most popular panel sessions were held in the Convention Center’s Grand Ballroom, with a capacity of 3,000. The more popular panels, such as “Inside Firefly” with Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk — drew a strong crowd, yet seats were still available throughout the day — no camping out required (as with San Diego Comic Con’s infamous Hall H). While many of the panels featured television celebrities, a series of talks moderated by Danny Fingeroth and others provided coverage of comic book topics as well.
Photo Galleries from Panels and Presentations
Panels at Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con 2014 included the following. [Click the thumbnail images to view photo galleries]
“Inside Firefly” with Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk answering fan questions and performing their usual high jinks, along with the intrusion of a strange visitor on the stage.
A conversation with Whoopi Goldberg.
Marvel’s Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan.
Three of the stars of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Dave Bautista, Michael Rooker, and Karen Gillan.
Former cast members from The Walking Dead: Scott Wilson, Sarah Wayne Callies, and Jon Bernthal.
A conversation with David Boreanaz.
A reunion with Revenge of the Nerds actors Curtis Armstrong and Brian Tochi.
Troma Entertainment co-founder Lloyd Kaufman with AMC TV’s Comic Book Men Ming Chen, Bryan Johnson, and Mike Zapcic.
A conversation with Eddie McClintock.
Comic book historians Peter Sanderson and Danny Fingeroth on the history of Marvel in “Marvel Comics at 75.”
Science Channel’s Oddities.
Bryan Tillman discussing “Creative Character Design.”
Elsewhere at the Con: Comics Creators and Cosplayers
Outside the panel rooms, the show floor offered more than vendors selling comics, posters, and pop culture trinkets.
Despite the general emphasis on television and movie properties, Artist Alley hosted a number of comic book creators, including artist Greg Capullo, writer Marv Wolfman, and artist J. G. Jones.
And, throughout all four days of the con, costumed cosplayers roamed the halls and posed for photos.
At some point, the current pop culture craze will hit saturation and the growth of fan conventions will slow or begin to decline. The current trend, however, is still markedly upward. Wizard World alone increased their footprint in the U.S. by expanding from eight shows last year to 16 this year with more to be announced, according to Wizard World’s Milani. At least in the short run, it seems the sky is the limit for pop culture fandom.
For a gallery of over 350 photos from three days of the comic con, see the Flickr photo album: Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con 2014.