Best. Convention. Ever?
Comic-book guys from Springfield, Ill., to Springfield, Mo., are cutting their ablaze sabers and snarky comments for the Midwest’s better accident of the fantasy/horror/sci-fi season: Wizard World, a fanfest that runs Friday through Sunday at America’s Center.
While the Darth Vader of pop-culture conventions is the massive Comic-Con in San Diego, that anniversary accident requires admirers to arise from their cloisters and biking to brilliant Southern California. Wizard Apple is a traveling appearance of 13 bounded conventions area geeks can accommodated and accost legends, from Lando and Draco to the Hulk and the Fonz.
Wizard Entertainment, which produces the tour, grew out of Wizard Press, the ambassador of Toy Fare and Wizard magazines. In 1997, it swallowed the disturbing Chicago Comicon and grew it into one of the better fan conventions in the world. Wizard Apple Chicago now attracts added than 70,000 attendees a year, additional alone to the different Banana Con New York (with 100,000) and Comic-Con San Diego (with 126,000).
Comic-book publishers, toy manufacturers and cine studios can feel the force of the assemblage phenomenon. It’s no accompaniment that fan-driven brand movies such as “The Avengers,” “The Hunger Games” and the “Harry Potter,” “Twilight” and “Lord of the Rings” alternation are consistently amid the highest-grossing films of the year, and abounding added billions can be fabricated from merchandising.
With its army of zealots and bloggers, the San Diego accident is a ablution pad for projects that may be years in the future. Meanwhile, bounded contest such as Wizard Apple activity the pot by absolution admirers beyond the country get up aing and claimed with the stars.
On this year’s Wizard Apple tour, cities on the coasts are accepting William Shatner, but headlining the heartland stop in St. Louis is an alike bigger name in this alternating universe: Stan Lee, the biographer and ambassador who co-created Spider-Man, the Hulk, the X-Men and abounding added iconic comic-book characters for Marvel.
Although Lee makes adornment appearances in all the Marvel movies, he is the best archetype of addition who is admired by admirers for his behind-the-scenes contributions.
At fanfests, for every autograph table abounding by movie, TV and alike angry stars, there is an according cardinal of artists, writers and furnishings wizards who are chock-full by admirers who apperceive their names if not their faces. (Another archetype at this weekend’s accident is Neal Adams, who has fatigued Superman and Batman for DC Comics and who led a attack to accord due acclaim to golden-age predecessors Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.)
The Wizard Apple assemblage additionally appearance console discussions, fan-created-costume contests and afar of memorabilia. But for those who are addled by stars, actuality are some of the appropriate guests:
Stan Lee: Still agile at 81, the allegorical Lee is the face of Marvel, which has auspiciously broadcast from banana books into films. (“The Avengers” was the accomplished grossing blur of 2012.) Alike if he lives to be 200, Lee’s greatest accomplishment will still be creating Spider-Man, a appearance who is both a crime-fighting superhero and a regular, annoyed teenager. (Appearing Saturday only) By Joe Williams
Tom Felton: As Draco Malfoy, the buck villain in the “Harry Potter” franchise, Felton actually grew up afore our eyes. Post-“Potter” he’s overextension his wings, with roles in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and the accessible abstruseness “Therese.” (Appearing Saturday and Sunday only) JW
Billy Dee Williams: In the “Star Wars” universe, he will consistently be Lando Calrissian, the adroit ambassador of Cloud City, a role he says he’s been asked to reprise for adventure VII (with Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher). But in assertive corners of earth, he will consistently be the smooth-as-silk agent for Colt 45 Malt Liquor, the borsch that “works every time.” JW
James Hong: An archetypal amateur whose face you apperceive but not his name, Hong’s account of credits accommodate “Blade Runner,” endless TV alternation and the activated blur “Kung Fu Panda” (for which he was the articulation of Po’s noodle-peddling father). Fun fact: Hong was a finalist for the role of Sulu on the aboriginal “Star Trek.” JW
Lou Ferrigno: The youngest champ of the Mr. Cosmos bodybuilder antagonism (at age 20), the 6-foot-5-inch Ferrigno went on to brilliant as Bill Bixby’s mean, blooming alter-ego in the TV alternation “The Incredible Hulk.” Off-camera, the hearing-impaired Ferrigno has been an afflatus for special-needs kids. JW
Dean Cain: Behind those Clark Kent glasses is a Princeton alum and above pro-football amateur who put a adventurous circuit on Superman in the TV alternation “Lois and Clark” (opposite Teri Hatcher). Cain, whose affection films accommodate “The Broken Hearts Club,” will arise at the assemblage with Clark’s on-screen nemesis, Lex Luthor, aka Emmy-winning amateur John Shea. (Appearing Saturday and Sunday only) JW
Laurie Holden: She was a active added alike afore landing the analgesic role of Andrea on “The Walking Dead.” Admirers of chilling TV will bethink Holden as Marita Covarrubias on “The X-Files.” (Was she good? Was she bad? Somebody ask her, please.) Now, she dispatches zombies with absolute ability but has added agitation allocation out her animal priorities, in AMC’s hit thriller, now in its third season. By Gail Pennington
James Marsters: The “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer” affectionate ability accept agitation acquainted their admired “Spike” after his white-blond beard and English accent. Since “Buffy” and “Angel,” Marsters has dabbled heavily in sci-fi, including roles on “Smallville” and “Caprica.” But article like the absolute Marsters, who’s neither albino nor British, angry up two seasons ago on “Hawaii Five-0.” GP
Henry Winkler: In 1984, back “Happy Days” concluded a 10-year run. Winkler afraid up his covering anorak and clearly retired “the Fonz.” But he never “jumped the shark,” alike admitting he aback created that t byword back his appearance actually jumped a shark. Winkler produces and acts; he writes children’s books. He’s appeared on “Arrested Development” and has a alternating role on “Royal Pains.” But these days, he’s apparent best on TV in commercials for about-face mortgages. GP
What Wizard Apple St. Louis Banana Con • Where America’s Center, 701 Assemblage Plaza • When 3-8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m-7 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday • How much One-day tickets are $35-45 at wizardworld.com, or $10 added at the door; weekend passes are $65 in advance; accouchement beneath 10 get in free; best autographs acquire a abstracted fee • More info wizardworld.com/stlouis.html
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