Fri 3/17 @ 5-10PM
Sat 3/18 @ 10AM-7PM
Sun 3/19 @ 10AM-4PM
If St. Patrick’s Day partiers in Cleveland think they’re seeing Klingons, zombies and Timelords, it’s not necessarily a drunken hallucination. This also happens to be the weekend of the third annual Wizard World Comic Con presence in Cleveland.
A company relation to the late Wizard Magazine (which, while it lasted, was the definitive journal of the superhero comics-book industry), the Wizard World Comic Cons, taking place annually in major US cities, bring VIP guests from all corners of pop-culture and nostalgia.
As with the trendsetting San Diego Comic-Con that spearheaded nostalgia conventions of all sorts, it’s not necessarily about buying/selling comic books and action figures (although that element in strongly represented), but runs the gamut of entertainment. Pro wrestling to Japanese animation and everything Hollywood in between, with science-fiction/fantasy tending to dominate.
How big is Wizard World? Slated to appear at Wizard World New Orleans before her 2016 death was actress/author/Star Wars icon Carrie Fisher.
“We did a tribute for her there,” said Jerry Milani, who handles PR for Wizard World.
The Cleveland Comic Con was a somewhat late addition to their circuit (what else is new? Star Wars with Carrie Fisher opened here a week later in 1977 than it did in the rest of the country), but it makes up for that in a stellar lineup of celebrities, vendors, panels and even concert-screening events.
Visiting eminences include actress Nichelle Nichols of classic Star Trek (plus a tireless NASA rep), bodybuilder-actors and superheroes incarnate Lou Ferrigno and Kevin Sorbo, Monkees Peter Tork and Mickey Dolenz, wrestler Kurt Angle, actor Barry Bostwick (hosting a special screening of the original Rocky Horror Picture Show) and movie special-f/x specialist Ed Kramer and Disney artist Clinton Hobart.
There will also be prolific cartoon voiceover actors Sandy Fox and Lex Lang; Millie Bobby Brown from the Netflix series Stranger Things; Jennifer Carpenter, Jamie Murray, Michael Hall and others from the cast of TV’s Dexter; and the Renaissance man himself, rock bassist/actor/author/reality-TV star Gene Simmons.
“Most of the celebs at this year’s event are new to our Cleveland show. Michael C. Hall, Sandy Fox, Lex Lang and Jaime Murray are new to Wizard World at this show. Gene Simmons, Jennifer Carpenter, Millie Bobby Brown are new to Wizard World this year,” said Milani.
Also expect Ohio comics creators, Starfleet followers, filmmakers and authors, plus replicas of the Batmobile, DeLorean Time Machine and Mach V, and on-the-spot podcasting. Plus costume/prop-making workshops and even a panel discussion on entertainment copyrights.
Tickets start at a basic $35 at the door Friday (raised to $45 Saturday). But that doesn’t count special additional charges for autographs and such and VIP events (come on, Nichelle Nichols is worth it) that might push your Wizard World experience into the three-figure range. Buying online brings discounts, but tickets are going fast.
[Written by Charles Cassady]