Yesterday I headed over to Wizard World in Philly for the second time ever, but the first time as a regular guest. You might remember that Frank and I headed there about two years ago trying to plug Shamoozal.com. We were so under prepared for that event, with only a handful of flyers, some tiny character cut outs, a “Shamoozal” yellow table cloth, and a laptop that only ran for about two hours a day to actually show our shorts. Oh, and the stickers we wanted to hand out didn’t come until AFTER that weekend… and I’m still stuck with about 500 of the things all this time later. This year was all about just enjoying the show, which I didn’t have much of a chance to when we were trying to sell people on typing in our URL when they got home.
Wizard World isn’t really my thing since I’m not really into comic books. That is essentially the bulk of the show, a way for collectors to buy MORE comics and more toys. I love toys, but I chose not to look at them this year since I’m in the process of figuring out what to do with the current toys I already have. The good thing is that there is enough other stuff to still make it an interesting trip. For instance, getting to meet the friendly Newgrounds staff, the always great B-List celebrity alley, the more grass roots Artist alley, and of course lots of video game stuff. Oh, and plenty of cosplay and Jedi too.
This year the Newgrounds guys had a huge booth in the front of the show floor with lots of goodies to buy and several of their popular artists chatting it up and doing commission work. I introduced myself to Tom Fulp, the creator of Newgrounds and he seemed like a really nice and down to earth guy. It was nice being able to chat it up with him. I also had the chance to meet the extremely popular Egoraptor, which was a really fun encounter. Frank and I spoke with him for a bit about the show and Newgrounds in general. He’s a really nice guy and is about as quick witted as you’d expect. I also met Steve V (SardonicSamurai) who was also a really nice guy. There were a bunch of other regulars there that I saw but didn’t actually get to speak with like Swain, HappyHarry, and Tomamoto. To be quite honest, it was actually a really overwhelming moment for me because there were so many people there. What I can say is that is a pretty tight group and they came from all parts of the US to be there, which is pretty impressive and shows they’re dedicated to the brand that Fulp created. Pretty cool stuff, I look forward to running into those guys again and hopefully spending a bit more time with them.
Outside of that, Wizard World has added tons more gaming related stuff this year, with tournaments for a bunch of different games (Call of Duty, Halo 3, Smash Brothers), and many more vendor tables. The year we went there was only one (tiny) game vendor and a Sony booth with playable demos (Sony was a no show this year). I just love looking at all of the classic retro games, because there is seriously just so much interesting stuff to look at. Everything from boxed Atari games, Neo Geo systems, ancient unopened packs of Nintendo trading cards, and rare games. I ended up buying about seven NES games and a Genesis game for about 25 dollars total. I could have easily spent more (especially at those 3 for 10 tables) but I did pretty good in limiting myself. Still, it was tough passing up stuff like Contra Hard Corps, Ristar, Illusion of Gaia, and the original Kirby’s Dreamland. Still, it’s awesome just being able to see all this stuff. I’m definitely in my glory with all that stuff.
I always feel bad for the celebrities that show up to these cons where people literally walk by and look at them like they’re at the zoo. This year saw tons of celebrities like Edward James Olmos from Battlestar Galactica, plenty of wrestlers (like Honkey Tonk Man in full costume), Kristanna “The Terminatrix” Loken, and of course Bruce Leeroy himself, Taimak. It reminded me of that scene from the wrestler where The Ram goes to that signing and no one gives a shit. This obviously wasn’t as pathetic as that scene, but it still had a similar vibe. I mean, it must work out for them to some degree or else Virgil wouldn’t be showing up every single year. Still, I kind of feel bad for them. Well, aside from Ray Park, whom had a huge line of people waiting to meet him. Either people are still pumped up over the 5 minutes of iconic kick ass footage of him in Star Wars Episode 1 from over 10 years ago, or people are stoked about him as Snakeeyes. It’s probably a bit of both.
Anyway so Taimak. I actually brought my Last Dragon DVD with me because god damn it, I was going to have this guy sign it for me. The Last Dragon is one of the secret best movies ever created. I watched it all the time as a kid even though I kind of hated it because I thought it was so ridiculous. Watching the movie again as an adult, I realize it’s supposed to be absolutely ridiculous and campy, and that’s why it works so well. It’s pretty much a classic in my eyes. So anyway, I approached Taimak at his rather empty table. His tabled was lined with photos and DVDs (I guess work out type DVDs) and I asked him how much for a signature in which he replied anything on his table was 10 dollars and anything I would have brought would be 20. I’m sorry, but 20 dollars for a signature, to me, is just kind of outlandish, and he was one of the cheaper guys. By comparison, Edward James had some ridiculous 100 dollar package going on. Yikes. So I told him that I did have the DVD with me but that I was low on money. At that point he said “You know, that’s fine, I’ll do it.” So he signed my DVD for 10 and made sure he pointed out that he wrote “To Phil, Keep Glowing!” in which I laughed and said that was awesome. At this point I guess he got pumped up, came out from around his booth, gave everyone with me a handshake, asked if I wanted to get a photo with him, and he even told us how he partied way to hard the night before and that the day was really tough. Yeah, it was kind of awesome. Oh and he’s still jacked as shit.
One thing I’ll never understand is all the people dressed as Jedi that go out to these things and just sword fight the whole time. From what I can tell, no one is asking them to come to these things and perform. They just kind of show up and do their thing, because it’s not like these people are professional sword fighters. They just go out there and twirl their plastic light sabers around and act awesome. So I mean, are they doing this to try and impress people, or just because they’re having fun? I guess I just don’t get it. Part of me thinks “Well they’re not hurting anyone and just having fun.” But the other part of me thinks they want people to see how awesome they are because why else would they just perform at a public thing like this? I don’t know, but if I were them, I would have been pretty embarrassed pretending to use a light saber when the real deal, Ray Park, is sitting 10 feet away from them. I wonder what he thinks of this stuff? Whatever, I guess in the end it really does just come to down them having fun and not really hurting anyone, so yeah.
Anyway, Wizard World was a pretty good time overall. The 35 dollar ticket at the door was a little shitty, but hey, I got to experience a lot of geekery and had fun for the few short hours I was around there for.