When you’re a seasoned nerd like me, walking into the sparse halls of the Pennsylvania Convention Center on the opening day of Wizard World Comic-Con holds the same excitement as opening up presents Christmas Morning. Instantly, you’re greeted with thousands of cosplayers dressed up like every pop culture icon you could imagine. While there are a variety of popular, trendy cosplayers, the crowd goes bonkers over the more obscure or original concepts. When John and I cosplayed as Jessie and James from the original Team Rocket from Pokemon, we were stopped every two minutes for pictures because at the time, anyone who cosplayed as Team Rocket did the updated versions. It was my first time cosplaying and needless to say, that experience spoiled me.
Wizard World Lets Adults Be Kids Again
There’s a certain comradery that exists at every Wizard World Comic Con, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is no different. No one judges you on who you’re dressed like, or how good you look in what you’re wearing. It’s a safe space where tax lawyers, waitresses, HR Managers, and bank tellers can let go of who they are Monday through Friday and let their freak flags fly for an entire weekend, losing themselves in being a kid again. Because that’s all we are: kids trapped in adult bodies.
Aside from cosplay, and meeting celebrities from back in the day, like Henry Winkler (the Fonz), your favorite wrestlers like Bubba Ray Dudley (get the tables!), or the newest Marvel characters like Jason Momoa from Aquaman, there’s enough nostalgia and excitement to go around for all ages and interest levels.
Much More Than Superheroes…
My favorite part of Wizard World though, is taking a walk through Artist Alley. Here, you come across a gold mine of talented artists who can paint, illustrate, write and create unique works of art that bring life to the unusual – like the zombified Little Mermaid doll that has a dingle-hopper dangling from her forehead I bought for $60.
Every year I’m taken off guard by the quality of product I bump into at not just Artist Alley, but with every vendor. You can’t feel akward for rummaging through a giant pile of plush Pokemon dolls, thinking you’re “too old” because the vendor selling it is just as obsessed with “nerd culture” as you. It bonds us – and my wallet can show the proof!
It’s not a place to be up tight or insecure. Wizard World won’t allow it. They encourage you to get up on stage dressed like Princess Peach and start singing “Don’t Stop Believing” at the top of your lungs. Always stop and ask for pictures with or of cosplayers. As Deadpool wearing a unicorn pool float and snorkles said to me, “We dress up to make people happy.” Somewhere inside I can imagine this is making a very real Ryan Reynolds very, very happy.
The End of Wizard World Always Leaves Me Wanting More
After the weekend ended, John looked at me and asked, “Did you ever see yourself going to a comic-con before you met me?” I could have said something honest and heartfelt, but the giant pink, Jigglypuff plush wedged between my arms said everything I needed to. This life – this is who I am and who I’ve always been. Wizard World is a community I’m lucky to be a part of. That’s just something you never, ever grow out of.