Last Saturday, I took a selfie with Spock, bought an art print of a pug wearing a tuxedo, and danced to a six-piece band that only played music composed for video games. Doesn’t that sound like a dream? It certainly was a dream come true for me.
As I sit here, finally cutting off my hot pink four-day ticket holder wristband and resigning myself to the fact that the dream is over for now, I thought I would take a minute to reflect on my weekend and share with you five things I learned from my first full convention weekend at Wizard World Comic Con Philadelphia 2015.
It’s really fun to be someone else for a day.
I find cosplay – which for those of you that don’t know, essentially means dressing up as a fictional character – to be one of the best reasons to go to fan conventions. It’s a fantastic way to let go of stress, express your creativity, and learn valuable skills like sewing, crafting, and leather/woodwork. Plus, it’s a dream come true for Halloween junkies like me. I finally have another excuse to wear a costume! While I collected my costume by piecing together altered items of clothing from thrift stores and crafting, many cosplayers make theirs from scratch and spend months or sometimes even years working on elaborate costumes. It’s truly an art form and was a sight to behold at this convention. Plus, photo opportunities are endless. Where else can you find Spiderman and Indiana Jones in the same place?
Nostalgia is a powerful thing.
On Friday, I bumped into someone dressed as Ed from Good Burger. On Saturday, my friend and I dressed up as Miguel and Tulio from the DreamWorks movie The Road to El Dorado. I witnessed the power of nostalgia firsthand on both days. As I sprinted over to get my picture with “Ed,” I was taken back to my younger days when my sister took me to the theater to see Good Burger for the first time – after which I admittedly watched the movie more times than I can recall on VHS and DVD. The next day, between 20 and 30 people stopped my friend and I for pictures with huge smiles on their faces gushing about how The Road to El Dorado was one of their favorite movies growing up. It was magical.
Water, granola bars, and superhero shaped gummies are also powerful.
Pack snacks. With all the programming, people, and vendor booths keeping you busy, it’s hard to find time to eat. Although it was quite fun walking over to the Reading Terminal Market –conveniently located only a block away from the Convention Center – for a Spataro’s cheesesteak, which I ate (very carefully) in costume.
Celebrities are people too!
Speaking of programming, over the course of the weekend I joined the audience for several events that attracted some of the biggest crowds at the convention, but topping them all were celebrity Q & A panels. I saw James and Oliver Phelps (the Weasley Twins from Harry Potter), Karl Urban (McCoy from the new Star Trek movies), and Scott Wilson (Herschel from Walking Dead) – just to name a few. While it was interesting listening to them divulge behind-the-scenes details about the pop culture franchises they’ve been a part of, I was most struck by how candid, intelligent, and kind they all were to their fans. It was a pleasure to experience that, at least in these cases, celebrities really appreciate the people who support them and genuinely enjoy their work.
It’s a lot of fun when Penguins, Robins, and Birds of a feather flock together. Above all, it was just wonderful to be among fellow fans and creators. Although “nerd culture” is becoming increasingly mainstream, nothing beats the feeling of gathering with a large group of people who share the same interests, appreciate your love for all things “geek,” and understand your oddly specific puns.
Wizard World Comic Con’s 2016 dates have already been announced, and Philly is slated for June 2 through June 5. I unquestionably plan on making my way to the Convention Center for next year’s fun. If you can find me under the makeup and fabric or armor of my next cosplay, be sure to say hello.