RICHMOND, Va. — There will be 16 Wizard World Comic Con conventions this year and for its first time, Richmond will be one of the cities hosting; in fact the early reception has gone so well that a 2015 date has already been set.
Fans of the “Evil Dead,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Breaking Bad,” and the original “Batman,” will get to meet actors from those shows. That means Bruce Campbell, James Marsters, Adam West, Burt Ward, and Giancarlo Esposito will be in town.
That’s not even mentioning Dave Bautista (WWE) and Michael Rooker (“Walking Dead”), also from “Guardians of the Galaxy,” or Ron Perlman of “Hellboy,” Dean Cain of “Lois & Clark”, Lou Ferrigno aka “The Incredible Hulk” or the Boondock Saints — Sean Patrick Flanery and David Della Rocco.
And that still doesn’t cover all the star power that will be in town for two nights and three days at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, starting Friday Sept. 12 and running through Sept. 14.
Fans will also get to interact with the prominent comic creators of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Batman,” “X-Men,” “Iron Man,” Green Lantern,” “The Crow,” and more.
There are more than 60 writers and artists slated for the inaugural event. Programming includes options for gamers, Q&A with celebrities, artist panels, film screenings, workshops and a best costume contest.
On Saturday attendees will get an advance look at the FOX show “Gotham.” That’s about it for the industry sneak peeks, but where do you think you are — San Diego?!
Merchandise will be available at the roughly 200,000 square-foot venue. On site there will be a mix of t-shirt vendors, unique collectibles, very rare comics, games and gaming accessories, leather goods, Wizard World-themed merchandise, and more.
Tens of thousands of people come out to the Chicago and Philadelphia conventions, and cities like Las Vegas, New Orleans, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Reno, Austin, Raleigh, and Nashville also play host to Wizard World events.
Richmond has a pretty healthy industry for such events, given the 28-year success of VA Comicon.
Jerry Milani, with Wizard World, explains that Richmond popped up on their radar because they are “…always looking at cities and regions that have a strong pop culture fan base, and that we feel would benefit from having a show like ours that combine all the elements — movies, TV, comics, sci fi, art, cosplay, etc. — in one place.”
Add all the diverse celebrity power to the comic and sci-fi fan base and you have Wizard World’s magic recipe to make everyone happy.
And sell tickets.
Expect “a little bit of everything,” with your ticket, says Milani. “A fan may be coming to meet Lou Ferrigno, for example, but on the way to his booth, he or she may see an artist who has drawn a unique interpretation of The Hulk, or a vendor with a piece of Hulk-themed merchandise they’ve never seen before, or a cosplayer in a home-made Hulk costume.”
“Wizard World shows bring all those elements together in one place – plus more than 50 hours of Q&A programming starring celebs, artists, and industry leaders, 95% of it free with admission,” he adds.
Also be ready for a lot of cosplay, or fans in costumes. The adult costume contest is one of the most popular events at every show, according to Milani. That runs from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday night.
The WWE stars and Campbell will attend on Saturday only; Perlman and Marsters will appear on Saturday and Sunday; Rooker is scheduled for Friday and Saturday; West, Ward and Bennett will attend all three days.
Wizard World Richmond Comic Con show hours are Friday, Sept. 12, 3-8 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 13, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 14, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
The venue is 403 North Third Street. Click to the convention center website for parking options and directions.
Sunday, Sept. 14, is also Kid’s Day, with an array of activities and programming specially designed for the younger Wizard World fans. Children under age 10 get in free with an adult ticket (up to two kids per adult ticket).
Ticket prices are $5 more at the door. If you buy online there is a service charge, so the prices appear to be about the same, but you won’t have to wait in a line. Some conventions definitely sell-out.
VIP tickets are for sale from $199 to $225 and the various packages include options like autographs, photo op, seating at the stars’ panel and access to the show floor 30 minutes early on Saturday and Sunday.
Check here for package options.
The Official Wizard World Richmond Comic Con after party is 8:30 p.m. through midnight at the Capital Ale House on 623 E. Main Street. Entry is free with Wizard World wristband; 21 and up only.
Think I just heard someone humming Black Sabbath: “He turns tears into joy/Everyone’s happy when the wizard walks by.”