The weather could not have been nicer for Wizard World’s first ever Cleveland comic convention. (I say this, because in Northeast Ohio half a foot of snow is usually the best welcome we can offer to newcomers.) After a good trudge through the slush-covered streets, I managed to step out of the chill air and into the press of con-goers. Despite the icy conditions, Cleveland’s convention center was packed with attendees.
Soon enough, the crowd would be divided, forming lines for booths and celebs (like fellow Kent State alum Dolph Ziggler). As with any Wizard convention, the same complaints come to mind. There were very few comic related guests in attendance. The focus was given mostly to the old standbys from the Wizard group. Jason David Frank, William Shatner, and others were all in attendance. There were a few booths set up for independent comic companies, like Action Lab, Mess Bucket, and Zenescope, but those were the most recognizable names. On the plus side of things, the cosplay was excellent. Ohioans really put their hearts into the hundreds of costumes (about 25% Army of Darkness) worn to the show.
I don’t normally talk about myself in articles. I find it unprofessional, but since I traditionally speak so negatively about Wizard’s conventions, it might be appropriate to relate what an incredible time I had at the show. While waiting in line for Bruce Campbell to sign my Moontrap poster, I watched as Bruce’s assistant, or agent, pressed through the crowds checking for contraband. The man had slick, black hair, a small soul patch, a perfectly fitted black suit, with a thin black tie, and an air of menace. It struck me, upon seeing him, that Bruce Campbell may be a real life Faust, as this man certainly looked like a modern representation of the devil, pressed into servitude. Several members of the crowd began mumbling nervously as he passed them. It was unsettling. To my knowledge, no pictures exist of this man (Because he was on anyone with a camera before they could snap the shutter).
Less terrifyingly, I was able to meet another international celebrity. Adrian Paul, who many know as the Highlander, was very pleased to meet me. Paul was fantastic, and thanks to some special connections we were able to spend some time chatting. The famed actor seems to be spending much of his time doing charity work with his Peace Fund and, of course, spending time with his family.
I wrapped up my day with the only panel I attended, “Bruce Campbell Vs. the Audience”. Campbell was on the search for “the most talented person in Cleveland” (and pickings have been slim since Drew Carey left). Campbell brought six audience members onstage with him, and asked them to compete, showing off their talents, in attempt to win a fabulous mystery prize ($20 value). There were certainly some characters, including the Schlockmeister (A self-proclaimed movie host) who Campbell thankfully snarked offstage after the first round.
All in all, the convention was a good first effort for Cleveland. I picked up a handful of independent comics, and the first ever tabletop RPG drinking game, all of which I plan on reviewing over the course of the next few days (level of sobriety depending). So stay tuned folks.