Wizard Convention Features Celebrities and Entertainment
Wizard World Comic Con returned to the Pennsylvania Convention Center this past weekend for the company’s 19th annual Philadelphia pop culture convention. Despite the show’s comic con moniker, the focus of the event is largely on celebrity autographs and panel sessions, along with general entertainment and nerd culture activities.
As he discussed in an interview with On Technology and Media during the show, Wizard Entertainment president and CEO John D. Maatta is striving to “balance the fan experience against the cost” of mounting the shows, much of which goes toward bringing celebrities to the events.
Maatta believes in the value of live entertainment to keep the shows engaging. As has been the style of Wizard World in recent years, a stage at the entrance to the exhibition hall featured musical acts and other entertainers, hosted by an always energetic Kato Kaelin. The Creative Stage at the side of the hall presented instructional programs.
The center of the show floor was filled with celebrity autograph tables, with the rear of the hall set aside for celebrity photo ops. The remainder of the exhibition space included vendor booths with a broad array of pop culture products. While comic books and graphic novels could be found, most of the show’s vendors featured collectibles and craft items. Comics publisher Zenescope was one of the only comic book companies present.
The Artists Alley section of the show floor included a number of illustrators and crafts people, but few working comic book creators.
Comic book panels were scarce as well, unlike in previous years when the show included panels with comics historians like Danny Fingeroth and Peter Sanderson.
The majority of this year’s programming sessions were geared toward general pop culture activities, such as cosplay and fan discussions, in addition to the popular celebrity panels.
Celebrity discussions on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday included the following. [Click on each image to display a photo gallery in Flickr.]
Friday’s Charmed reunion included actors Holly Marie Combs, Drew Fuller, and Brian Krause, who were happy to discuss the original series in which their characters appeared, but declined to comment on the show’s reboot, about which they clearly had little interest.
Cary Elwes, speaking with moderator Victor Dandridge, told hilarious anecdotes about his work on films such as The Princess Bride and Robin Hood: Men in Tights. The tales were enhanced by his uncanny ability to mimic the voices of his collaborators, with dead-on impressions of Rob Reiner, Mel Brooks, Wallace Shawn, and Andre the Giant.
Friday ended with Dean Cain discussing his role on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman with Tony B. Kim.
On Saturday, the Once Upon a Time panel featured actors Jared Gilmore, Rebecca Mader, and Lana Parrilla.
Actors Kevin Conroy and John Glover discussed their voice work in Batman: The Animated Series, portraying Batman/Bruce Wayne and the Riddler, respectively.
Ian Somerhalder held an extended audience Q&A session, moderated by Victor Dandridge.
Closing out Saturday’s programming sessions, the Firefly Q&A panel included actors Adam Baldwin, Jewel Staite, and Sean Maher. When asked about what might have happened to their characters if the series had continued, Staite and Maher both thought babies would have been in the future for Kaylee and Simon. As if to complete the picture, at the end of the session, a child from the audience came up on stage and was embraced by the pair.
On Sunday, Tony B. Kim interviewed Supergirl actors Mehcad Brooks and Jeremy Jordan.
Also on Sunday was “Ted Talk: A Conversation with Ted Danson,” where the actor discussed his roles on shows such as Cheers and The Good Place. Midway through the session, Danson was joined by his Cheers co-star George Wendt in a surprise appearance.
Wizard World is scheduled to return on June 11-14, 2020 for the company’ 20th anniversary Philadelphia Comic Con.
For the complete photo gallery from this year’s show, see the Flickr photo album Wizard World Philadelphia 2019: