Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sacramento Wizard World 2014: Robbie's Report

The Sacramento Convention Center has become a familiar sight for con-goers in NorCal. Not long after Sac Anime moved to the new location, Wizard World decided to join in with Sacramento Wizard World, bringing the large comic convention to Sacramento.

Of course, NorCal has been missing a big-name comic convention ever since we lost Wonder Con to SoCal, so the convention’s arrival sparked no small amount of interest. When it started announcing guests like Stan Lee, William Shatner, Chris Hemsworth (or Chremsworth, as he is now called), and Norman Reedus, that pretty much guaranteed it was going to be big.

Sadly, I was unable to get tickets for all three days, so I had to spend some of the convention “ghosting” it. As such, this will be from the perspective of a broke attendee, rather than a report with all the perks that official press brings. We only learned that our press application was denied after full weekend badges had all been sold out, at which point all I could afford was a Saturday badge. But I am nothing if not professional, and will provide a fair and hopefully insightful report to the best of my abilities.

The convention opened at 3 on Friday, but attendees were allowed to pick up their badges ahead of time. When I say “badges,” I really mean wristbands, as people got different colored wristbands, depending on the type of badge they purchased. For cosplayers, that was something of an issue, as they can get in the way of costumes, but for the average attendee, it didn’t seem to be a problem.

After getting badges, attendees lined up outside of the dealer’s hall. The lines stretched far outside the convention center, but once the hall opened, it moved rather quickly. Picking up badges was a quick process as well, in spite of the equally lengthy lines, which is commendable.

Spaceballs! And they captured Princess Vespa's stunt double!

Squirrel Girl and Captain Marvel, with a photobombing Robin in the background
On that day, I brought my Dread Pirate Roberts cosplay, figuring it would be a good one to bring. It was, and more people managed to accurately recognize it than mistake me for Zorro, though I’ll need to get a new mask before wearing it again.

Without a badge, there wasn’t much to do aside from hang out with friends around the con, but thankfully, I had no shortage of friends to hang out with. It’s the people I meet that make conventions truly awesome, and there’s still plenty around Sacramento to see and do.

The convention itself only took up part of the convention center; it used the end of the center on K Street, and one of the halls therein, plus a few extra rooms for panels. It seemed like not very much for the price of admission, although the center was double-booked for another event that day, and next year’s convention will make use of the entire center.

Pearl Forrester and Tom Servo
Meridah and Ariel
Saturday, however, was what promised to be the biggest day, and that’s the day I had a badge for. I arrived bright and early to pick it up, and when the dealer’s hall opened, I made my way inside. The hall was packed with attendees, as well as booths selling all sorts of goods. Past the vendors was the artist alley, which hosted an array of professional and amateur artists, selling their prints and signing for their fans.

Past the artist alley was where the guests went for their autograph and photo sessions. There were booths set for each of them, with larger ones for the bigger guests. The booths also had signs saying when each session was, and how much it would cost, though even the more affordable ones ranged from 20 to 40 dollars.

If you wanted an autograph or picture with one of the big stars, they were selling VIP tickets with special badges. Those, however, cost well in the hundreds, depending on the guest, so I could not afford one myself. For some it may be worth the couple hundred bucks to meet Stan Lee and Chremsworth together, but budgets must be considered.

I did, however, take the time and money to meet Michael Rosenbaum, who voiced The Flash in the “Justice League” cartoon, and played Lex Luthor on “Smallville.” He was very polite and agreeable, and showed up early so the guests could meet him sooner. I also stopped by James Marsters’ booth, just to let him know I don’t hold “Dragonball Evolution” against him. Other guests included famous names such as Billy Dee Williams and Ralph Macchio, who tended to have lengthy lines throughout all their autograph and photo sessions.

I spent that day cosplaying as the 10th Doctor, along with friends as the 11th and War Doctors. Our “Day of the Doctor” group was a lot of fun, and we found ourselves bantering back and forth like they did in the episode, occasionally throwing out quotes at each other and responding in kind. Somehow, we actually managed to make it through the center without getting lost from each other too frequently. We even met a few more Doctor Who cosplayers, who joined us for a bit.

When the day neared its end, I decided to pass on checking out the masquerade, due to being too tired. I did hang out with some friends I don’t see too often, and got some pizza from nearby, but my day ended at that.

Anna and Elsa of "Frozen"
The Doctor, the Doctor, and the Doctor.
Zim and Dib from "Invader Zim"
Sunday, the last day of the con, was also going to be a big day. On Saturday, Stan Lee was sick and unable to attend, moving all his events to Sunday, including the photo ops. I was there for the Marvel shoot, which we hoped he’d be able to visit, but his schedule clashed with it, so no Stan for us.

For cosplay, I went as Doctor Nemesis from the X-Men comics, and hung out with fellow Marvel cosplayers for most of the day. The gathering was at 1:00, and had a decent turnout, with plenty of Avengers, X-Men, and other miscellaneous Marvel comics characters. It was well-organized, thanks to the experience of the group running it, and went by quickly. I also enjoyed getting to shout at people about science.

Captain America, classic and gender-bent
Clone Troopers aplenty. Thankfully, nobody ordered them to execute Order 66.
Lunch came after the gathering, and my day was pretty much done after that. It was a good weekend, spent with people I always enjoy seeing, and allowed me to meet many new friends as well. While the convention was very expensive, and needed to use more of the convention center to justify that price, it went well for its first year, was well-organized, and had some excellent guests.

Sacramento Wizard World is already set to return next June, so start saving up and working on those costumes, as next year promises to be even better.

Zapp Brannigan
Henchman 21 and Doctor Girlfriend

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