Last Dispatch: Wizard World New Orleans.

So…yesterday was a good day at the convention, but today was a great day. Like most other conventions, Sunday is the day to really get to talk to people and move around. There just aren’t as many people around. If you’re daunted by the price of the two day admission, but you want to get some autographs, some books, and chat up some pros, trust me when I say that the Sunday beats the Saturday. Everybody from looky-loos and casual fans to hardcore fans on a budget go on Saturday. Sunday is much more relaxed. So it was again this year at this con. There’s only one downside to Sundays: sketches are hard…if impossible to come by. I’ll post some time about getting sketches from folks, but for now suffice it to say that the artists are working during the second day to fill the obligations of the first…mostly.

But my general thoughts on attending a con are not why you’re here. You probably want to hear about the Stan Lee panel and the William Shatner Q & A.

As you might surmise from his exuberance in the media, Stan Lee looks like he’s genuinely having fun. His interactions with the crowd at the Q&A were warm and friendly. The man seemed to enjoy being there and interacting with the people. Sure there wasn’t anything revelatory today, (after so many years that wasn’t likely anyway) but it was a joy to listen to him speak about his career and his creations. As an English teacher, the greatest part of the session was his genial insistence on proper grammar. He corrected the moderator and a fan. It was a hoot! For an 89 year old man, there was a great deal of sharp give and take with the crowd. It was easily the best panel I’ve ever been to, and most likely ever will go to. AND I got to take a picture with him! It’s a rare thing for me to smile outside of laughing, but standing next to Stan Lee in that photo is a fool with a huge goofy grin.

The Shatner panel was a fairly different tone. Although he was standing in front of the table the entire time, there was a greater sense of distance between him and the audience. Mr. Shatner was entertaining, and he certainly knows how to work a room, but the tone was more like a monologue than a conversation. After he mentioned that he’s about to open a one-man show, I realized that this panel was probably a rehearsal for his show. Answers to questions were followed by anecdotes that didn’t always tie to the question. It felt like he had these set things he was going to say come hell or high water. Distance and all aside, it was an enjoyable panel.

Another thing worth noting about this year’s convention is the increased presence of costumes. There were some really impressive ones too. You’ll see a couple below taken by friend of the blog Southall. Remarkably, steam punk seemed to outnumber any other theme. There were quite a few Dr. Whos and Star Wars stormtroopers. Regrettably there were also a hand full of goddamn furries.

Well, that’s it until next year.

Dispatch from Wizard World: New Orleans

In its sophomore year, Wizard World New Orleans is working hard to impress. Last year they were testing the waters to see if New Orleans could support a convention. The problem was that everything about last year’s convention was small. Don’t get me wrong; I had fun last year. I got to meet Adam West, Walter Koenig, and Kevin Maguire, but the convention didn’t have much else going. Few panels and relatively meager offerings in terms of vendors. It was…small and unimpressive… especially if you’re trying to convince people to attend annually.

This year everything is bigger. It’s much more in line with my other experiences in the comic book convention world. For starters, there have been some impossibly huge draws as far as guests go. Both Stan Lee and William Shatner are appearing. In addition, George Perez, Norm Breyfogel, and Mark Texeira have tables in the artist’s alley. Last year, there was a dearth of comic vendors with backstock much less bargain books. This year it’s very different. Tons of boxes of books as well as no less than three booths with substantial $.5o boxes.

Unlike last year, there was also much more in the way of fan costumes. Although there was more in the way of steampunk than the law should allow, there was also fair representation of the comic book world… including a phenomenal Aquaman and Mera which I’ll post tomorrow.

The con has room to grow though. The main area for improvement needs to be the lack of presence by any of the major comic companies…or the minor ones for that matter. To my mind, it’s still essentially a local con until the companies make an effort at attending.

I’ll have picks and panel summaries tomorrow. For now, suffice it to say that this is a good second year in a convention’s life. Today was a good day... oh… and there was beer sold on the convention floor.