Photo by Karl Beck. See more in Karl’s photo gallery here.
America’s Center | 04.05-07.19
When it was first announced back in February that Jason Momoa, star of the DC Comic blockbuster Aquaman, would be attending Wizard World Comic Con St. Louis, it quickly became one of the most talked about stories in St. Louis. It was on the local news, in the newspapers, popping up as notifications on everyone’s phones, and popping up in everyone’s email. After that, it was hard to find a person who had not at least heard of the convention.
If you were not already familiar with the convention, you might think that he was the only guest at the show this year, but this year’s event, as always, was full of celebrity guests, artists, creators, and various vendors. Included in the list of celebrity guests were Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters), Sean Astin (The Goonies, Stranger Things, Rudy, The Hobbit), Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk), Thomas Ian Nicholas and Chris Owen (American Pie), Alaina Huffman (Smallville, Stargate Universe), Holly Marie Combs (Charmed), Brian Krause (Charmed), Drew Fuller (Charmed), Chris Kattan (Saturday Night Live, A Night At the Roxbury), David Alpay (Vampire Diaries), and even Kato Kaelin (Big Brother).
The artist’s alley was overflowing with talent this year. There was so much artwork to choose from it really made it hard to decide which piece to take home. One table I really found myself drawn to was Benitez Productions. Joe Benitez is an American comic book artist whose work includes Titans, Superman/Batman, Magdalena, and The Darkness. Even though he did not attend the convention himself, some of his own creations were available for purchase from his production studio’s table, including Lady Mechanika and Wraithborn. His style is extremely colorful, dramatic, and consists of mostly steampunk and urban fantasy characters. A mixture of his dark, dramatic color against a metal surface really made his work stand out amongst the others in artist’s alley.
Another great artist that could be found in this year’s artist alley was Phil Ortiz from The Simpsons. He has worked on The Simpsons for several years and was available to sketch attendees who wanted themselves Simpson-ized just like other celebrities and guests who appear on the show. If you are a fan of the Simpsons in any way, shape, or form you’ll want to check him out wherever you can.
If you’re a fan of quirky, cutesy, and sassy t-shirts, the Tee Turtle table was the place to be. The table is always busy every year and they bring fresh, new merchandise for fans to swoon over. Imagine cute little cartoon bears, horses, turtles, you name it, on a t-shirt with sassy sayings. If you love unicorns like I do, make sure not to miss their new ‘Unstable Unicorn’ collection which is also available online. While totally inappropriate, these unicorns definitely make a statement that is geared more toward the older unicorn fans as opposed to the younger crowd.
Another not-to-miss is Wild Bill’s Olde Fashioned Soda. While a tad pricey, the novel soda bar boasts several eclectic flavors like Rocky Mountain Root Beer, Rocky Mountain Diet Root Beer, Blazing Black Cherry, Buck’n Birch Beer, Outlaw Orange Cream, Gatling Gun Grape, Open Trail Ginger Ale, Sarsaparilla Six Shooter, and Vintage Vanilla Cream. The line is always long, but well worth the wait. Price includes refills for the entire day and several barrel-style souvenir mugs to choose from.
Warner Bros. also had a table there giving away posters to promote a few of the theatrical releases coming out this month including The Curse of La Llorona, the newest installment from The Conjuring series. They were also giving away movie passes to a few lucky winners. It must be noted that as attendees were entering the convention center, they were handing out promotional items with Pet Sematary on them to help promote the release of the new remake of the 1989 movie adaption of the Stephen King novel that was released in theaters this weekend. As an avid movie lover, this was a pleasant surprise and was a great beginning to another wonderful year.
The great thing about Wizard World Comic Con is that fans can choose how much they want to interact with their favorite guest or artist and other attendees. While the convention is over a three-day period, you can spend the whole weekend there or you can choose one specific day. You can attend all the panel discussions, just a few panels, or none at all. Whether you decide to wear a costume or just your favorite t-shirt, you’re always welcome and the camaraderie between the attendees is like nothing else. | Jennifer Manjarez