By: Erika Ashley
This past weekend I partook in my 4th Wizard World Comic Con, this time taking place in nearby Reno. Wizard World - Reno is the last stop on the traveling comic con’s route and usually has a pretty decent turn out. This year’s headline stars were only mildly exciting – Kevin Smith (Clerks, Dogma, Comic Book Men), Jason Mewes (Clerks, Clerks II, Mallrats), Adam West (1960s Batman), and Burt Ward (1960s Robin). The rest of the celebrity appearances were comprised of outdated D-list television actors that are clinging to their fading fame and a few B-list actors questioning their agents thought process. The one celebrity I was actually excited to potentially meet & greet was Brent Spiner (Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation), but he canceled last minute which was rather depressing.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend Friday’s festivities but from the other patrons I spoke with around the Con on Saturday, the biggest turnout was at “Jay & Silent Bob Get Old” Podcast Recording. A rather large audience laughed and enjoyed the usual foul-mouthed antics of Mews and Smith. I actually ran into Kevin Smith while walking through the Atlantis Casino later Friday evening after we finally arrived. We exchanged Silent Bob eyebrow raises and continued on our opposite ways like awkward ships in the night.
Saturday doors opened at 10AM and easily had the largest turnout out of the three day event. The Reno-Sparks Convention Center’s Main Hall was packed to the gills with little kids, punk teenagers, adults, cosplayers, gamers, geeks, nerds, you name it - they were there. There were a surprising number of redundant vendors lining the aisles. 2 words - Swords & Corsets. They were everywhere. For a comic convention there were probably a handful of actual comic book or toy related vendors. Outside of the Artist Alley I counted 4 comic book stores which were representing their local business and 2 toy vendors peddling vintage memorabilia. However, it seemed as if every other stand sold swords, knives, or corsets. And the exact same items no less. One vendor that was packed the entire day on Saturday was Wild Bill’s Olde Fashioned Soda Pop Company that sold limited edition stainless steel Wizard World mugs that ranged from $20-35 and included unlimited soda from their pull tab dispensers. The line was long and their stand pulled people in. Like a sucker I bought a $32 barrel mug, filled up my cup to the brim with foamy root beer and after taking a big swig I realized that due to the high demand of syrupy goodness there was a lack of carbonation. I had a big cup of $32 root beer flavored syrup water that I had to lug around. I tried to go back a few times hoping the issue would have been resolved but nay it stayed the same flat consistency the remainder of the day. I even chuckled on Sunday when I overheard a couple comparing sips and mentioning the flatness.
The programming and panels for the event was rather disappointing; just like the celebrity appearances, they seemed almost planned at the last minute and thrown together. The standard panel discussions about cosplay and “What Genre of Geekdom Do You Fall In?” and Q&A sessions for the celebrities on site filled the convention center rooms. While sitting in Stephanie from Full House - Jodie Sweetin’s discussion panel an amazing occurrence happened that would have made 10 year old Erika squeal in absolute delight because Will Friedle (Eric Matthews from Boy Meets World) stepped in during the Q&A portion and the two had a witty banter for a few minutes. The crowd went wild and everyone under the age of 32 nearly cried with sheer joy. The only other event that was worthwhile was the Cosplay Contest later that night.
Sunday the doors opened at 11AM and the previously thumping and bumping main hall barely had a heartbeat. The aisles were nearly empty and vendors started to discount their items in a last-ditch attempt to break even or make it into the black. Many of the cosplayers from the day before were wearing their same costumes, meaning there were more than enough Deadpool’s to actually drown in them. Even Wild Bill’s line was non-existent. Since the mood had switch so drastically and there really wasn’t much left to do, I headed home early
As much as I love a good comic con, Wizard World Reno had a lot of bumps that just couldn’t be overlooked. From second rate celebrities, duplicate vendors, poorly planned programming and lastly a lack of comic books, all together this con was practically a bust. I had fun none-the-less making memories with friends and even taking part in the GeeksterInk’s tattoo portion by adding a new piece of ink to my now growing collection. But, when Wizard World comes to Sacramento, I will certainly think twice about attending.
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