After two years, the former Wizard World returns
After an absence of two years, the former Wizard World Comic Con returned to Philadelphia this weekend, rebranded as Fan Expo Philadelphia by its new owners, Fan Expo HQ.
The pop culture fest at the Philadelphia Convention Center had much of the structure and content as past Wizard World events, with a few new tweaks.
Fan Expo Philly had, surprisingly, little Covid mitigation. Comic-Con International’s WonderCon, held the prior weekend in Anaheim, California, required all attendees to wear masks and show either proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test. At Fan Expo Philly there was no mask requirement nor a requirement for vaccination or testing. Hand sanitizing stations were the sole visible Covid response mechanism. While cases had substantially receded since the previous fall, after two years of mandates and lock-downs the lack of Covid mitigation was initially startling.
The Main Stage, where the headlining celebrities held their panels and Q&A sessions, was not in a separate auditorium. The stage was in a large seating area that was open to the exhibition hall. As unusual as this was, it allowed people strolling around the vendor booths to stop and catch some of the celebrity presentations.
Celebrity headliners included several actors from various Star Trek series, including William Shatner, John De Lancie, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, and Gates McFadden. Also appearing were Agents of SHIELD and The Mandalorian star Wing-Na Wen, Doctor Who’s David Tennant, Wynonna Earp‘s Melanie Scrofano and Tom Rozen, Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s James Marsters, and Her Universe founder and Star Wars: The Clone Wars actor Ashley Eckstein.
The smaller panel rooms held presentations on various topics such as comics and cosplay, as well as a talk by The Office star—and Philadelphia native—Kate Flannery.
Aside from an awkward moment when one celebrity refused to continue until the small group of press photographers left the room, there were several charming moments during the celebrity panels.
When Ming-Na Wen’s Q&A session ran out of time to take questions from everyone who had lined up, she told the remaining people in line to come to the front of the stage after the session where she would answer their questions.
Near the end of Ashley Eckstein’s Q&A, a fan offered her a ketchup packet—presumably as ammunition for her ongoing Ketchup Wars with Matt Lanter. The attendee was graciously thanked and rewarded with a hug from Eckstein.
Wynonna Earp star Melanie Scrofano was accompanied in her Q&A session with Tim Rozon by her young son. After running around on stage behind the presenters, Scrofano brought her son over to the mic to meet the audience and talk about his favorite cosplay at the show.
Artist Alley included such noted comics creators as Greg Capullo, Marc Silvestri,
José Luis García-López, and many others. [See Flickr photo gallery] One of the most active signing lines for comics professionals was for the Venom team of Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman.
While a few comics vendors could be found on the show floor, most of the vendor booths featured various pop culture collectibles from Funko Pop! characters and minifigures to movie props and glow-in-the-dark posters.
As always at comic cons, many fans came adorned in cosplay outfits to add additional flair to the event.
For a full gallery of photos from Fan Expo Philadelphia 2022 see the Flickr album: