Wizard World Sacramento event recap

wizard world cover

A three-day nerd storm rolled through California’s capital city this past weekend, and I and the rest of the Videogame BANG! podcast crew were right in the middle of it. Wizard World Sacramento Comic Con is hands down been the biggest comic convention to land in Sacramento for decades. My co-host, Aaron Carter, and I had never been to a convention before and knew very little about what to expect. We knew that through Nerd Reactor, we would receive press credentials, but even beyond that we didn’t really know what that was going to get us into.

For those who don’t know Wizard World Comic Con is a fairly new traveling comic convention that grabs a cavalcade of great actors, writers, artists, cosplayers, and anyone else with some serious geek fandom and takes them on the road. What I am going to attempt to do in this article is recap my experiences and opinions from this event into a written manifesto, if you will. For those out there who read this far but would rather have the sentiment of what I’m going to write here injected directly into your ear holes please visit our page on www.videogamebang.com, where we recorded a wrap up after each day.

Wizard World General

Much like your standard con, there was a main floor loaded with vendors and autograph booths. Unfortunately due to the nature of my credentials and media responsibilities, this is where I spent the least amount of time. From my life experience, the closest thing I could compare it to is a Geeky Swap Meet, where the people don’t smell like motor oil. Instead of homeless people, you have cosplayers, and rather than old car parts, you can buy a memento or piece of art from just about any fandom you can think of. From extremely obscure anime to Marvel powerhouse heroes, all the way to The Big Lebowski. I saw representation from all of them on multiple occasions.

Outside of the showroom floor are the panel rooms. This is where they held all of their celebrity one-on-ones, advanced screenings of television shows, and programming of the like. Wizard World staff was always extremely courteous and helpful. Traffic flow in the panel area was extremely cramped and slow moving, as one was ending before the next began. I wouldn’t attribute the blame to Wizard World as much as I would whoever designed the building to have such narrow hallways.

The panel mediators that I witnessed were all on point, with most of the panels I witnessed were in the main hall. Aaron Sagers and Mo Lightning were both extremely sharp, kept the panels moving at a smooth pace, and managed to deflect some of the more…bizarre questions and requests from the fans into the ground without making anyone feel bad.

Other than some of the major panels in day two or three, Wizard World did everything in their power to keep the line aisles moving and lines short. I praise them on how I saw them treat the fans, special guests, and media alike. One suggestion of mine would be to have a more well-rounded treatment in quality of panels from the main ballroom to the smaller downstairs rooms as far as production. While Aarons Sagers is chatting it up with Julie Benz with amazing lighting and VFX, my friend Eric Moran was in a cramped little room with a high school projector and some computer speakers showing short films that many people had trouble seeing. Again, this is probably a victim of the venue more so that Wizard World. Outside of picking knits, the Wizard World machine was very efficient.

The Guests

wizard world guest wwe

Wizard World Sacramento made a statement with the caliber of guest they brought along in their debut. Some of the higher profile guests included Chris Hemsworth, Stan Lee, William Shatner, Norman Reedus, Billy Dee Williams, and James Hong. Panels for the most part ran on time, and lines to ask questions were fairly short. While the panels with guest like Billy Dee Williams, Sheamus and Julie Benz were straight forward, they were full of interesting tidbits and stories from behind the scenes of many of the most iconic franchises. Others like Michael Rosenbaum, William Shatner, and James Hong took the panel as an excuse to tear down the walls of what you would expect from a Q&A and turn it upside down. Rosenbaum spent the entirety of his time in the crowd making jokes, heckling fans, and squeaking in a few answers to the questions. I found most of my most memorable moments from Wizard World coming from the more unorthodox presentations.

Side story here: Stan Lee was supposed to be at the con on Saturday, but was pushed back to what was supposed to be a condensed version of his panel due to illness. They got him to Sacramento via private jet and despite his hosts trying to end the panel, Stan refused and completed a majority of an entire panel. This goes to show how much Stan really cares about the fans. For a 91-year-old man, I was personally inspired by this.

Before the Stan Lee panel, the head honcho from Wizard World addressed the crowd and announced that they would be back in Sacramento twice next year. With the incredibly high bar set by this Wizard World outing, there are some huge expectations as far as I’m concerned when it comes to the celebrity guests. Outside of the panels, my crew and I had very little interaction with the guests, because understandably they were pretty busy. If I have one complaint about the handling of the guests, it would be the amount of isolation of the guests from the media.

Cosplay

thor cosplay wizard world

Now I want to change focus to some of the advertised guests of the Comic Con that are somewhat unsung heroes, the cosplayers. Coming into this con, I only got to see the internet side of cosplay. And when it reached my attention, it was due to some sort of scandal or misuse of crowd sourcing. I attended the panel ‘Costumes + Playing = Cosplay! So what does that actually mean’. My biggest take away from the panel was the sense of community there is in the cosplay world.

Outside of a few select people and some phony reality TV show, it is not at all an appropriate representation of these extremely friendly, and hardworking individuals. I spoke at length with Keith Zen Dragon and Eric ‘The Smoke’ Moran about some cosplay controversies in the industry regarding crowd sourcing, and they were extremely insightful. I was able to speak with Ivy Doomkitty and Vegas PG about cosplay being a lot more than a destination to glamour, but instead it’s a journey of hard work and glue gun burns. The thing that won me over the most was when I saw Ryan Frye, despite being in a huge rush being cattled between buildings, stop for nearly ten minutes to take pictures with some very enthusiastic children. He let them play with and pose with all of his props. It was really a sight to behold. Seeing all of the work that the advertised cosplayers did like hosting panels, judging the costume contests, taking thousands of pictures, it’s impossible that they are being compensated enough.

Now moving beyond the big dogs of cosplay, I want to hone in on the rest of the costumed con community. Not one single time did I ever encounter a cosplayer with a negative attitude when asking for a picture or interacting with them. Every single one was so gracious and kind. From the people who obviously spent months crafting amazing pieces of art to the ones in Walmart Halloween costumes, they were all fantastic people. We will be posting a full gallery of all of the beautiful people who let us take pictures of them shortly.

Final Reaction

wizard world nerd reactor

Never having been to a con in my life, this felt like everything I would have expected and more. Wizard World clearly has their finger on the pulse of the convention community and delivered an experience that topped many people’s expectations. My only fear is that they set such a high standard for conventions in Sacramento that they have loads of work to do next year. Does it match San Diego Comic-Con? Not yet. In a nutshell these guys are taking the magic of SDCC, making it ‘Fun Sized’ and bringing it to your home town. I can’t quite put words to how much fun I had at the show as a media guy, a skeptic and a nerd. Now stop reading this and go buy your tickets to the nearest Wizard World.

About author

Cory Vincent
Cory Vincent 434 posts

Forged in the crucible of awkwardness and self loathing, Cory somehow manages to get himself out of bed each day and make it a priority to spend life killing Beef and going H.A.M.