By Alexa Solis
For the first time ever, super heroes, trekkies and sci-fi fans of all kinds descended upon Reno for Wizard World’s Comic Con. Excitement buzzed in the air as super heroes and civilians alike prepared to enter the show room.
The event hosted vendors, celebrities and artists unique to 16 other Comic Cons in cities across the nation. Towers of comics and other sci-fi paraphernalia greeted visitors when they entered the convention.
“Every show is a little bit different,” said Jerry Milani, public relations representative at Wizard World. “[It’s] based mostly on the fact that we’re in Reno, so we’re going to have artists that are only here and maybe at no other shows.”
According to Michael Golden, a comic book artist, one of the greatest draws of the event is the breadth of its attractions. For Golden, that leads to a greater number of families and people who weren’t interested in coming to the event before.
That was true for University of Nevada, Reno freshman Cole Peck who came to the event in full red Power Ranger garb. Peck came to the convention to meet Jason David Frank, the original green Power Ranger, but he found that there was more to the convention than just the celebrities.
“This is my first [Comic Con], so I came here really to just experience it, and it’s awesome,” Peck said. “Everyone is really nice. I’ve taken a couple of pictures with some little kids, so that was kind of cool.”
Costumed characters of all sorts percolated through the crowd. A group of Spider Men posed for photos, just as a group of Boba Fetts did the same from not even 5 feet away. A tired toddler yawned, as he gazed up from underneath his helmet at his frenzied surroundings. Keegan Allen of “Pretty Little Liars” looked into the crowd and pointed to the little boy.
“He looks stoked to be here,” Allen said.
According to Allen, one of the best parts of going to events like Comic Con is meeting all of the fans.
“It’s exciting meeting fans, most of them just get really emotional,” Allen said. “One girl was crying, which was really exciting and made me feel a little weird.”
Allen was just one of the many celebrities in attendance. Some of the other celebrities present at the convention were Norman Reedus, William Shatner, Karen Gillan and Lou Ferrigno.
Ferrigno, most famous for his role as The Incredible Hulk, said that one of the most fulfilling aspects of doing conventions is interacting with people.
“Meeting the fans [is my favorite part],” Ferrigno said. “It’s a wonderful thing to connect with people whose lives were affected by the Hulk or myself. With families coming here, sharing their experiences, connecting with celebrities ⎯ everybody walks away with a smile on their face.”
Fans interacting with their favorite celebrities is just one of the many facets of Comic Con. There are also themed panels, vendors and artists promoting their work. While there are many local vendors, some travel for the event.
Las Vegas-based artist Frank Carpenter came to Reno to sell his posters at Comic Con. While there are a lot more rules and regulations at conventions like Comic Con in comparison to smaller art festivals, it remains a good experience for artists, according to Carpenter. The presence of celebrities and special guests draw in more people than Carpenter would ordinarily see at another art festival.
Thousands of people came to Wizard World’s Reno Comic Con. Though it’s not the largest opening show Wizard World has ever had, they are expecting to grow at next year’s event, according to Milani.
“We are coming back for the same corresponding dates next year, and it’ll be a different set of celebrities mostly, but it’s going to be an exciting time for us to build on what we’ve done this year,” Milani said.
Alexa Solis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @alexacsolis