Wizard World New Orleans offered real life experiences with sci-fi icons

Published 7:00 am Saturday, February 15, 2014

By Hugh McDonald

Guest Columnist

For the fourth year in a row, thousands of science fiction fans of all ages descended upon the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans to attend Wizard World Comic Con New Orleans, which is part of a traveling exhibition that showcases cosplay costume contests, gaming, shopping, discussion panels on a variety of topics with famous actors, artists, and writers, autograph lines, and meet and greet celebrity events for special ticket holders.

Wizard World New Orleans’ big event last year was “The Walking Dead” discussion panel, which included “Daryl” (Norman Reedus), “Merle” (Michael Rooker), and “Shane” (Jon Bernthal). This year’s Comic Con saw the addition of “The Walking Dead” star Steven Yeun who plays “Glenn” on the show.

The big event this year was the “Dr. Who” discussion panel with the eleventh doctor, Matt Smith. Several thousand people crowded into the convention center’s theater to listen to him describe what it was like to play the lead character in science fiction’s longest running television show that just celebrated it’s 50th anniversary in November.

Manu Bennett who plays “Slade Wilson/Death Stroke” on the CW Network’s hit television show “Arrow” hosted another interesting discussion panel. He also played “Azog” in the last two “Lord of the Rings” movies. The focus of his panel discussion was the audition process that resulted in his roles and working with computer generated sets and effects.

Also of interest this year was the “Batman at 75” panel discussion hosted by Dr. Travis Langley, author of “Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight.” Special guests at this panel discussion were Danny Fingeroth, author of “Superman on the Couch,” Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson who is the granddaughter of DC Comics founder Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, and Marv Wolfman, who has written for the “Teen Titans” cartoon series as well as for “Batman.” This panel discussed the origins of “Batman” and what influenced his creators’ thought process.

In addition to these attractions, Wizard World New Orleans offered after parties, sci-fi speed dating, many other discussion panels that covered a wide variety of topics, and a film festival. Vendors sold non-personalized autographs, t-shirts, videos, games, toys, comics, and art. If you had comic books that you wished to have appraised there was a vendor there that offered to send them off to a professional appraiser.

Many visitors had their picture taken with Dr. Who’s T.A.R.D.I.S., two of the Batmobiles, “Ecto-1” from the “Ghostbusters” movies, “KITT” from “Knightrider”, and the Delorean time machine from “Back to the Future.”

Fan clubs had a large presence at Wizard World Comic Con New Orleans. Representatives of the “Krewe of Chewbaccus,” “Krewe Du Who,” and the 501stLegion Star Wars fan organization ,which does charity work on an international scale, were all in attendance. The 501st took donations to shoot nerf darts at storm troopers right around the corner from Chewbacca the picture friendly Wookie.

If you missed this year’s Wizard World Comic Con, but are into all things geeky, make sure you visit all three days of Wizard World New Orleans 2015 next January, but until then “may the force be with you.”