Wizard Entertainment Group, the country's foremost authority on everything related to pop-culture, comic books, gaming, anime, toys and collectibles, drew more than 27,000 fans to its annual Wizard World Los Angeles event, posting more than a 10 percent increase from last year's show. The event marked another milestone for Wizard as it was the brand's first show at the Los Angeles Convention Center, moving from Long Beach to downtown L.A. for the first time.
The three-day extravaganza drew a larger audience that is directly attributed to a virtual lineup of 'who's who' in the entertainment industry, including Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes (Clerks 2, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back), Shawn Wayans and Marlon Wayans (co-creators of Super Bad James Dynomite and writers/stars of Scary Movie and Scary Movie 2), Kane (WWE, See No Evil), and many more. In addition, Spike TV showcased a sneak peek of its new 'Blade: The Series,' with the show's writer, Geoff Johns, leading a panel session.
Wizard World Los Angeles also featured special content from several comic, sci-fi and horror-themed properties from seven different movie studios, which included clips from See No Evil and Clerks II. Not to mention, the dozens of industry led panels that allow fans to quiz, heckle and hear from the leading talent and executives in the comic book industry. Artist Alley also allow fans and creators a unique opportunity to meet and interact. It also gives independent creators an opportunity to showcase their talents.
The industry panels cover a large array of topics. The big two, Marvel and DC, each held several panels to discuss their upcoming launches or to talk about the current state of affairs with their line. DC hosted a number of panels discussing the Vertigo, Wildstorm and DCU lines of comics. The big question on everyone's mind is what happened during the skipped year? Mark Waid, Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison and others weigh in with some answers, but mostly fans are told to read the upcoming weekly series 52 that follows those missing weeks. Marvel likewise had a series of panels covering specific sections of the Marvel universe. These were X-Men, Ultimate and Civil War. The upcoming civil war is Marvel's next big epic that pits heroes against each other over the issue of registration. Fans were treated to previews of the covers for issues involved in the civil war.
Not all panels are specifically about the comic book industry. Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes held a Q & A about his career in both movies and comics. Damon Lindelof, Jeph Loeb and Javier Grillo-Marxuach led a discussion about working on a show like Lost and in the comic book industry. They have found that comic books are a lot more time consuming, but a less difficult medium. It is only less difficult, because television seems to suffer from considerably more scrutiny. The major difference in the time comes from having to be explicit about each panel in a comic book, where in a television script the actor and director are more naturally limited. They talked about the series Lost and how the writing pool for the show is composed mostly of comic/sci-fi loving geeks and that this gives them a common perspective from which to talk. Most of the voice actors from Ultimate Avengers hosted a panel where they discussed what it was like getting to bring iconic comic book characters to life. The Ultimate Avengers is a more modernized version of the classic characters. The entire cast really enjoyed working on the project as well as the sequel, Ultimate Avenger 2, which was previewed at the panel.
A large draw for any convention is the opportunity for fans and amateurs to meet and interact with people in the industry. Fan based conventions have the added pleasure of celebrity attendance. Wizard World Los Angeles featured such genre stars as Charisma Carpenter, Ray Park and a variety of other stars from movies and television. The larger attraction for fans is the list of creators that attend the convention. The large distributors, Marvel, DC, Aspen and Top Cow, all had their major talent present for autographs and discussions. Beyond the major distributors, a lot of artists get their own tables in the area called Artist Alley. Some small distributors also set up booths with their creators throughout the main floor.
While the celebrity listing gets a lot of press, it is probably one of the low points of the convention. While the celebrities are present and available for autographs it's for a fee. They are there to sell photos and other merchandise related to them and their characters. Most people will take a look and snap a photo, but not much else. Most of the celebrities are not really accessible to the fans the same way that the creators and industry professionals are.
The creators and industry professionals can be found hanging out at the booths, artist alley or around the conference rooms before and after their panels. Most of them like to meet their fans and sign their work for you. Swing past the different booths and check out the signing schedules that are posted. Make sure to show up at the beginning of the signing period if not earlier as they often give some kind of token out early for the really big name creators. If you miss your favorite artist's signing at a booth, check to see if they are hanging out in Artist Alley. Beyond the large distributor booths, lots of smaller distributors also have booths where you can meet the creative teams behind their line of comics.
One such booth was Frank Beddor's Hatter M based on his novel The Looking Glass Wars. The idea behind both the comic and future novel seems to be that, Lewis Carroll took liberties with the history of an actual place: Wonderland. And not only is that other-dimensional destination real, Alyss Heart originated from that place. She happens to be the crown princess. Her bodyguard is one Hatter Madigan, a man of deadly skill with the blade, whose hat becomes something of a flying guillotine when thrown properly. In HATTER M, he has slipped through a puddle to 1859, Paris, in search of the missing Alyss. His lack of understanding of our world, and the immediate disappearance of his hat, offer only the first of many obstacles he's about to face.
No matter what, pay a visit to Artist Alley. There you will get the opportunity to meet not only some of the artists that you missed at the booths, but a lot of artists that won't be at the booths Plenty of creators, both established and beginning, reserve space in Artist Alley. Walk around and talk with the various artists, you will get a unique insight into their work, plus exposure to some of their lesser known projects.
'What an amazing third year in Southern California,' said Gareb Shamus, chairman/CEO of Wizard Entertainment Group. 'That we did it all in Hollywood's backyard allowed our partners to provide our fans with access to unbelievable entertainment of all shapes and sizes. This year's show exceeded our expectations, and it was in large part to due the commitment of our fans and partners. We can't wait 'til next year!'