Centaurs, Celebrities, and Zombies OH MY! : Wizard World Chicago Comic Con August 2011
Wizard World Chicago Comic Con 2011 has come and gone, and though I felt as if the time I had last year could not be topped; I can honestly say I was WRONG! The friendships, the celebrities, and the sheer size were greater than last year. The experiences I have, and will share, pale in comparison to actually being there, and I must say that if you live close or are willing to drive to Chicago, this is one convention that should not be missed!
My adventure started on Thursday with the Press and V.I.P. day for people to walk around, see booths of where people are going to be set up, see all the locations of panels, and to get a good idea of what comics are being sold and deals that a person could possibly find. It was Thursday that I came across two of the stars of “Unicorn City the Movie”. The card I was handed immediately sparked my interest, and I was looking forward to screening the movie while I was there. I also had the chance to walk around freely and briefly spoke with Addy Miller from “The Walking Dead”. (She was the little girl that met her demise towards the beginning of the first episode.) She spoke of how she loved working on the show, but couldn’t offer any more details, especially about Season 2. Thursday also led me to becoming friends with the lovely ladies at the Murder Pin Up Girls. I was fortunate enough to go to dinner with them and share some quite intriguing conversation as well. While Thursday was great, nothing could prepare me for Friday.
Friday at Comic Con was a day I will never soon forget. I started early to see if any celebrities were on-site, that is the first time I met the Avellan Twins. (The Crazy Babysitter Twins in Grindhouse, and the Nurses in Machete.) We chatted a bit about upcoming things that they might be working on, and they told me they were going to begin production on a film in the very near future. Knowing that Robert Rodriguez had recently announced production of Sin City 2, currently in development, I asked if that was possibly the project. They kindly smiled and said they could not divulge any details and could not speak of what the project was that they would be working on. After a little more friendly chit chat, a person who looked vaguely familiar walked up behind them and seemed to know the twins very well. It was at this point where Electra Avellan told me that it was Noah Hathaway, Atreyu from Never Ending Story.
I was shocked and amazed that in a few short minutes I met two women whose beauty can’t be explained here and certainly can’t truly be captured on film and a guy who I IDOLIZED as a kid. I told Noah how The Neverending Story featured strongly in my childhood, and also how my mother read me the book after seeing the film. This led us into a discussion about how the movie did NOT do the book justice, and how much darker the book was. We also briefly talked about the struggles he had and how some parts of the film still touch his emotions and he is still very proud of that work and everything that encompassed his life because of the role.
Later that same day I attended the panel for “Unicorn City the Movie” and was even more intrigued. I also got the chance to chat with Adrian Lefler (Producer/Writer) and his wife Emilie Lefler, about everything they did to make it a reality. After hearing their passion, I realized this work was more than just a movie, it was an experience. The cast and I immediately bonded and established a great relationship, and after the panel; two of the stars Missy Hill (Angie), and Clint Vanderlinden (Rhubarb) went outside for some “fresh air” as we liked to say.
When we were outside getting some “fresh air” I noticed a person who looked like Norman Reedus outside getting some “fresh air” himself. I told Missy and Clint who I thought it was, and without a moment of hesitation Missy ran over and asked if it was him. He extended his for Missy to shake, and quickly waved Clint and I over. I noticed that Norman was wearing a “Minor Threat” t-shirt, and I boldly told him I was a fan of Minor Threat and their later band Fugazi. Norman reacted with a smile that someone genuinely knew the band. He told us of how he worked through the night, but he couldn’t tell us what he was working on (seemed a common theme in Chicago), and had flown straight to Chicago and came straight to the Comic Con. (Side Note: Norman was originally only scheduled to be there Saturday and Sunday, but decided to arrive early to surprise people.)
I brought up how he is a Cult ICON, and he smiled and thanked me for the interest. We chatted about “The Walking Dead” and how much fun the show is, and how happy he is by the success of the show. I told him about the site, and he said, “Sounds like my kind of thing! I’ll check it out!” I must admit that this was HUGE for me, and gave me goose bumps. I took a couple deep breaths in, checked the time and realized it was about time for me to head across the street for the “Red Carpet Event” that was set up for press. I headed over, got a few pics, said hi to a few celebrities and had a good time.
It was at the Red Carpet that I ran into the Avellan Twins again, and the fact they remembered who I was made me smile. Shortly after the Avellan Twins made their way on the Red Carpet, Noah Hathaway came in and we started talking once again. I asked him, via Rick Swift, what it was like to be the FIRST Harry Potter. He laughed and said “There isn’t enough time here or this weekend to give you ALL the details!” I also asked him what it was like to have a popular band named after his character in The Neverending Story, and he replied “They’re an AWESOME band, and of course it’s an honor that the name carries on in a different way.” A few celebrities were happy to say “Hi!” while a few wanted to get by as quickly as possible.
I was running short on time before I had to head over for the “Unicorn City the Movie” screening, but before I left I ran into Sean Patrick Flannery, David De La Rocco, and Norman Reedus. Sean shook my hand and commented nonchalantly, “Norman said you were cool.” I was honored, but running short on time I ran over to the screening. I arrived a few minutes late, and the room was PACKED! I found out that they opened doors to the adjoining room for a few more people to watch as well. I was happy I got to see the movie and I can say it was AWESOME!!! “Unicorn City the Movie” was great! It has humor for the WHOLE family, and a storyline that just keeps giving. I met up with the cast after the screening and went to dinner to pick their brains more about it. Friday had come and gone, and I was easily excited to see what Saturday was going bring next.
Saturday was here, and on my way over I saw lines that were longer than anything I had seen before. People were excited for what was described as “the BIGGEST day for Wizard World Comic Con this year!” I got inside and met up with my new acquaintances, the Avellan Twins, and asked how they were doing. They had an interesting night themselves, and were happy to be surrounded by such wonderful people. We got to talk some more and they showed me that they won’t forget me any time soon. I then popped over and dropped in on Noah Hathaway, and he was happy to talk a little more as well. I headed outside to check on the line and how big it had gotten, and much to my surprise there was an Indian wedding party outside. Women in surrey’s, the Bride riding a white horse, and people singing and dancing in a celebratory manner. This just added to the surreal experience I was having, and I couldn’t fail to to mention the beauty and grandeur of it.
As I was on my way in and walking around, I ran into my new friend Clint, while he was setting up the booth for the day, and he asked me to come outside with him for some “fresh air”. While we were outside we ran into Edward Furlong (Terminator 2, and Detroit Rock City). We briefly talked, and I even mentioned that we did an interview with Detroit Rock City Director Adam Rifkin. I told him to check out the site, and he said “I’ll have to check it out to see if you really like the movie or not.” I then went inside to help my new friends from “Unicorn City the Movie” hand out cards for their screening and also promote our site, lest Rick Swift stick my face in a blender – after all, this was a lot of fun, but it was also work. Yea, right! I found out that walking around with a Centaur will QUICKLY draw attention in crowds, and it also makes getting through easier as well. After a while of walking around, Clint and I ran into Missy and went out for some “fresh air”. While we were outside a guy came up to Clint, noticed his chest hair and asked “Do you shave or wax?” Why do I mention this? Because the person who asked was LeVar Burton. Yes, the Reading Rainbow guy who was also Kunta Kinte from Roots, and Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation, not to mention countless other writing and directing credits.
A few minutes later we hear another familiar voice walking by going “Thank You; Thank You Very Much! Nice costume Centaur!!!” It was Patrick Stewart HIMSELF!!!!! Professor X acknowledged Clint and waved to both of us! This was AWESOME!!!! We headed back inside; Clint and Missy were getting ready for the Costume Contest, and I was helping get the “props” ready for them for the contest. Standing in line for that, we heard YET ANOTHER familiar voice; it was BRUCE CAMPBELL!!!! He said, “I see a lot of Costumes out here! Hey, this poor guy has his head up a horse’s ass!” I got to shake his hand and was SHOCKED beyond belief.
I headed back to my hotel to shower and change before heading to the second screening of “Unicorn City the Movie”. I arrived back at the Con when I saw Missy and while we were talking, Bruce Campbell grabbed her attention and talked to her for a few minutes and wished her the “best of luck” with the movie. I was screening it for a second time, and already knowing the jokes didn’t detract from the hilarity that the movie provides; it actually makes the movie better and allowed me to pick up on things I missed the first time – so, you could say it was layered and better the second time. The people that were fortunate enough to not be turned away LOVED what they had seen, and became fully fledged fans like I had the night before. I once again had the honor of going out to dinner with the group from “Unicorn City”, and they helped to make my experience more memorable than the previous year.
I wish I could’ve attended the events of Sunday, but unfortunately I had to get headed home. Though I was not able to attend Sunday’s events, this was still an EPIC weekend!! I made some new connections, made some new friends, and also was happy to be one of the first people to see “Unicorn City the Movie”. I said before that I didn’t think that last year could be topped, and the experiences were awesome; but this year had so much more to offer. I hope, much like the friendships made last year, that the friends I made this year continue. My words of advice . . . if you are able to make it to a Comic Con are simple; comfortable shoes, time management, and “FRESH AIR”!!!! Thus far it seems each year keeps getting better, and I’m excited to see what next year brings as well!