Wizard Word held its annual Philadelphia Comic Con this past weekend and with its impressive lineup of guests, it was sure to be an exciting three days. I arrived early Friday morning, strapped on my fanny pack and made my way to the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
The exhibit floor was considerably smaller than other cons I’d been to but it seemed more focused on small press and individual artist promotion than the big booths you’d see at say San Diego or New York Comic Cons. While this meant that there was little in the way of free swag, it did allow for a better appreciation of the cosplay and artists in attendance. There was also an array of fandom merchandise and comics for sale and trade. I picked up the cutest Vulcan Teddy Bear!
I attended two very interesting panels over the weekend. One was called Batman: The Psychology of the Dark Knight. This session was conducted by a psychologist, along with actor Anthony Michael Hall, and explored the question, “Is Batman insane?”
Another great panel was Vampire Lore and other Urban Myths. This one was conducted by a pop culture professor and looked at the history of Vampire and Werewolf myths throughout history and varying forms of media.
Celebrity guests in attendance also made the Con very exciting. Among them were, Chris Hemsworth, the 5 Captains of Star Trek, the Boondock Saints stars, and casts from Legend of the Seeker and Spartacus, plus a 20th anniversary celebration with the stars of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
While I didn’t get to see all the guests’ Q&A’s, I did manage a few:
Sam Witwer is such a sweatheart and a great sport. He spoiled us a little on Season 3 of Being Human to say that he was growing out his beard in preparation to play Aiden. He talked about his audition process for BSG, Smallville and Being Human saying that in the first show he actively sought a role and in Smallville and Being Human he was asked to come in to read. He compared his characters of Aiden and Doomsday joking that they looked exactly alike and could be twins. He also said that they were both at the core nice guys each struggling with a unique condition.
He took in stride the guest who thanked him for all his good work because it made his sex life better, declaring for the whole audience how turned on his wife gets any time she sees him on TV. Another fan said that between him and Samuel L. Jackson, they’ve played every type of character and asked what was next for him. Sam answered that he will be playing Samuel L. Jackson next.
Claire Kramer (Glory, BTVS) hosted the Chris Hemsworth and 5 Captains panels on Saturday. In Chris’ Q&A everyone was eager to congratulate Chris on his new baby … and did so … numerous times. A fan asked, “Who’d win in a fight, Thor or Glory?” The answer was obvious, though. Didn’t Buffy school Glory with a hammer? It’s her weakness. Someone also asked Chris if he felt slighted by not being invited to the Captains panel since technically he was the captain of a starship for 12 minutes. He answered yes and that he was going to sneak in the back.
I also got to see history being made when all 5 captains from Star Trek series appear on stage together for the first time ever. They are all such talented and amazing individuals. Highlights included Avery Brooks’ sour face, Scott Bakula saying he wants to play William Shatner, Kate Mulgrew poking fun at Patrick Stewart and his lack of bosoms and hair and Patrick Stewart retelling how he accidentally grabbed Gates McFadden’s breasts once during filming.
The best moment was a fan saying that she thought Sir Patrick was sexier than Chris Hemsworth and she rather get a hug from him. At first, he balked but then William Shatner egged him on and ordered Stewart to give her a hug. Shatner warned the girl to be gentle. Sir Patrick agreed and leaped off stage to hug the fan. Unfortunately, there were no stairs for him to climb back up and he was stuck in the audience.
The highlight of Sunday was the Buffyfest panel with James Marsters (Spike), Amber Benson (Tara), Claire Kramer (Glorificus), Mark Metcalf (The Master), and Kristy Swanson (Buffy: Movieverse). They all talked about their time filming and recalled some of their favorite lines; “Wow… the Slayer’s a robot. Did everybody else know the Slayer was a robot?”
James said that his character was always meant to die but that Joss kept him around because he was a fan favorite. The audience was supposed to hate Spike and cheer when Angelus killed him after losing his soul.
James also commented on how Joss likes to prove people wrong and that the impetus for the episode Hush came from people saying that Joss’ genius came from his great dialogue, so he made an episode with no dialogue. Then people said Joss’ genius was in his comedy and jokes, so he wrote an episode with no jokes, The Body.
I also went Sci Fi Speed Dating. This was so much fun. I got to meet a ton of guys that were into some of the same stuff as I was and killed a few hours I would have spent in my hotel room alone. The host was a very nice guy who travels all around to various Cons. He’ll be at NYCC this fall and I will be participating again.
Now for some lowlights:
I have attended San Diego, Big Apple and New York Comic Con and found them to be a scene of organized chaos. Many times Philadelphia Comic Con was disorganized chaos. The biggest was panels and screenings. Panels were consistently running late. I saw volunteers telling attendees and guests to clear rooms between panels when there were only 10 people outside on line. I can understand clearing a room if you have a large number outside waiting to get in but that was just ridiculous.
Wizard World also dropped the ball on the Theater Programming. There was a 3 hour gap between panels in this room and of the most frustrating things was standing on line for the captains panel and see them let people in five minutes before it was due to start. Then the volunteers moved attendees line by line up one escalator. By the time I got into the theater, I missed the first ten minutes.
Since there wasn’t anything going on in that room at the time, they should have started to let people sit inside for the hour before. It would have saved having the need of volunteers to monitor crazy lines with no barriers and people skipping. The reason for this was given to me that Press and VIP’s needed to go in first and set up. This is solved by having a reserved press and VIP sections.
I also have to mention the photo op disaster on Saturday. A creepy thief made off with 200+ photos of fans with CM Puck and Chris Hemsworth. As a result the exhibit floor was closing at 7pm and fans (especially those with only Saturday passes) were scrambling trying to get their pictures. I was a part of that mess for about five minutes before I had to leave. I had a Sunday pass so I knew I’d be able to get my picture the next day.
I can’t predict how I would have felt if I were in a different situation and only had a Saturday pass but I think Celeb Ops handled it as best they could. I have never seen security at the photo tables because what rational person would steal 200 pictures of celebrities with strangers. What are they going to do with them?
Celeb Photo Ops set up tables outside the Exhibit Hall Floor where fans without Sunday passes could claim photos. If you left town or just couldn’t make it to the show on at all on Sunday, you were given a free digital download and your picture would be mailed to you. Not ideal, but a great plan and quickly executed by Celeb Photo Ops when faced with and unpredictable scenario.
I look forward to going again next year. I can’t wait to see what guests will be there. I’m hoping for a Charmed or BSG reunion. As for other guest, I’d always be happy with Star Trek actors and my new obsession, Teen Wolf. See you next year!