Wizard World Philadelphia 2014 Day 3

comic con punch-wwpSpencer: Nothing could have prepared me for day three of Wizard World. Since it was Saturday, it was the busiest day of the con, and since it was the busiest day of the con, it was the day all the big name celebrities were there. I’ve spent the last two days mostly concerned with comic books, but today I tried something new, and the combination of literally suffocating crowds, my own ignorance, and Wizard World’s poor explanation of their policies as well as their outrageous prices derailed my entire morning. Fortunately, today’s session was so long that it felt like two days, and the afternoon proved to be much more successful.

My day got off to a slow start. I got in line to see Greg Capullo, but it was long and everybody was having him sign tons of books (they later wisely limited signings to three apiece) and he was leaving for a panel in half an hour, so there was no way I could get through the line in time. Instead, I mustered up my courage and ventured into the suffocating celebrity side of Wizard World.

I can’t get mad at anybody for wanting to meet a celebrity (which also means I can’t be too mad about the long lines), but the side of the floor where the celebrities were gathered was almost impossible to navigate; I felt like a football player, spinning to evade attackers from all sides as I tried to make my way across the floor. Some friends and I were supposed to get our pictures taken with Matt Smith and Karen Gillan, who played the eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond respectively on Doctor Who, but that’s when I hit a snag: I had the “standard” VIP pass, while you needed a specific Smith/Gillan VIP pass (which, of course, cost more money) to get the picture. I suppose I’m probably a dunce for not understanding that, but I’ll argue to my deathbed that Wizard World wasn’t very clear about it; the handbook/app (thanks for the tip, Patrick!) only mentioned one kind of VIP pass, after all.

Anyway, to get the photo I needed to buy a $100 dollar ticket for it, and I just said “screw it” and got in line to buy the ticket because when else will I have this chance? Everybody in line faced similar confusion to me, and things got worse when — at the very front of the line — we found out you could only buy these tickets in cash (a girl I was waiting with had to hop out of line to hit an ATM). When I tried to buy my ticket I discovered that it actually cost $199; I threw up my hands and let the dream die. I once spent an entire day hanging out with my favorite band for $200; it’s just too much money for a thirty second photo op.

I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but it just seems morally wrong to charge so much money to people who already spent hundreds of dollars to get in the doors to begin with. Honestly, throughout the day I noticed a huge disparity between the “regular” guests and the VIPs in general — at one point they were literally herding VIP guests into a panel through the escalator while forcing general admission guests to walk the stairs. Ick.

At least my friends still got their photo with Matt and Karen and it’s glorious. I settled for a more lo-tech Who fix.

tardis

The con opened at 10, and by then it was already 1:30 ; fortunately, from there things could only get better. I again got in line for Greg Capullo, and this time things worked out; for my three choices I had Capullo sign 21, 25 and 30. Yes, I was going for a theme.

zero

Capullo told me that he always gets a little angry when he sees that all black cover to 25 because he fought and fought with DC to get the barcode moved to the back so that there would be no color on the cover at all, but DC refused (“Marvel does that all the time!” Capullo said, to which I countered, “That’s probably why DC didn’t want to do it.” Capullo thinks that’s a weak excuse).

Capullo himself was an absolute pleasure to talk to, extremely personable and bombastic and full of energy. He told stories about Batman toys Scott Snyder bought him, a 5-foot Doctor Doom statue a friend bought and dragged around for a day, and in the end, even took a picture with me!

I am not worthy

I am not worthy

The rest of my day was spent at two different panels. The first was “On The Battlefield With Marvel’s Falcon and Winter Soldier.” Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan had excellent chemistry on stage as they answered questions, with Stan playing quiet and humble and the enthusiastic Mackie constantly cracking jokes. The crowd ate it up, though the young, primarily female crowd probably would have loved anything these two had done (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). They certainly realize the lightning in a bottle they’ve captured, and when asked how they feel about fans cosplaying as their characters, Stan immediately replied “it’s the fucking best!”

I in no way have room to transcribe all their questions and answers, but a few highlights:
If you could play any superhero other than your current role, who would it be?: Mackie replied “Wonder Woman”, to resounding cheers.
Were there any wardrobe malfunctions?: Stan ripped his pants falling off a car, and then Mackie went into graphic detail about how they had to lube up Stan’s arm to put on the prosthetic and about the horrific sound it makes.
Are there any other characters you would like to play in a movie?: Stan wants to play Billy Idol or anybody in Motley Crue, Mackie wants to play Jesse Owens or Napoleon. He’s a big Napoleon fan.
Would either of you be open to hosting SNL?: Stan says he’d be nervous but he’d do it if Mackie were there; Mackie says that hosting SNL has always been his dream, but that “it’s easier to get hit by a line drive outside Yankee Stadium while walking down the street eating pizza” than for a brother to host NFL. He received more applause, and rightfully so.
How would you want your character to die?: Mackie would want Falcon blown to bits so he couldn’t continually be brought back like Loki. Stan says Bucky would probably rip off his own arm and beat himself to death with it.

stan and mackie

When asked if they got nervous about working with big stars early in their careers, Sebastian Stan said that working with Ian McShane on Kings forced him to step up his game. Mackie recounted a story about working with Morgan Freeman on Million Dollar Baby. Mackie started arrogantly ad-libbing during his first scene, and soon he and Freeman had a boxing scene together; Freeman started punching him for real, absolutely wailing on him and saying “Pay your dues!” with each hit. Mackie was ready to murder him, but at the end of the shoot Freeman walked up to Mackie, told him he had talent and potential, and handed him his contact information. Mackie was stunned.

When asked about their acting style and influences, Stan said that he watched a lot of iconic monster movies, but it wasn’t until he tried on the costume that he was able to figure out how to approach the character. Stan was also tight-lipped about spoilers to the point of hilarity, but Mackie says he knows what’s coming and that “it’s really good.”

The next panel was “Superstar Artists Panel” with J.G. Jones, Mike Manley, and Khoi Pham. Jones kicked things off by talking about the novel-size script Grant Morrison sent him for Marvel Boy, and how Morrison tried to murder him with two 12-panel pages in a row (Jones studied Ditko for reference and ended up finding that it ramped up the action). When the subject of editors came up, Jones mentioned a time he was asked to draw a Snakes on a Plane cover, and one by one editors asked him to remove the plane, then the snake, leaving only Samuel L. Jackson on the cover. Jones was eventually forced to show the cover to Jackson, and of course, the first thing he asked was where the snakes and the plane were.

Pham shared that frequent collaborator Brian Michael Bendis’ scripts are autocued, meaning that the program will automatically paste in identical scene descriptions (complete with identical spelling errors) every time he writes a certain word. Much like our beloved Soule, Pham started out as an attorney, and while he never felt at home in that career (in law school he was once asked to name his favorite attorney and he chose “Matt Murdock”), learning how to present an argument in court did help him with his scripting and storytelling. Pham came across as very humble, emphasizing how he really pushed storytelling because he didn’t think he was a very good artist. While all three artists agreed on the next point, it was largely Pham who emphasized how storytelling will only click when the artist has a message to convey that he believes in.

Manley had a longer career that eventually led to him quitting mainstream comics after finding them unfulfilling. He says that going independent was the best thing that ever happened to him, as it allowed him to defy stereotypes and broaden his style, eventually leading to storyboarding gigs, children’s books, and even work on a syndicated comic strip. All three artists agreed that comics are more competitive than ever, and the internet has led to a globalization of artists that has caused wages to stagnate even as workload (scanning, photoshopping, etc.) has risen.

Throughout both panels I noticed a running theme of tone-deaf questions and hatred for the internet. One poor girl had the misfortune of asking Stan and Mackie about fan fiction, and before she could even finish her question the crowd kind of shushed her through a horrified mutter of “oh no is she actually asking this?” (I know I was worried she was going to bring up slash fic). Mackie had no idea what fan fiction was, but it set him off on a tangent about how he hates the anonymity of the internet; if people are going to insult him, they should insult him to his face.

Meanwhile, one guest at the Artists’ panel asked about the “mass exodus” of creators at DC and Marvel (“How do you feel when you go into work and see half your coworkers suddenly missing?”) The panelists calmly but firmly told him that they had no idea what he was talking about and that most artists work from home, and this led to a lecture about how creators who badmouth other creators on the internet soon find themselves without friends or work.

I guess it’s no surprise that there are dark (or just stupid or naive) sides to the fandom, but fortunately, most of the guests I had the pleasure of speaking to were intelligent and enthusiastic. As always, the cosplayers lead the pack in enthusiasm; here’s my daily collection of favorite cosplays:

Cosplaying for the highest bidder

Cosplaying for the highest bidder

hey 90s kids, check it out!

hey 90s kids, check it out!

When this con is in ashes, then you have my permission to die

When this con is in ashes, then you have my permission to die

Why not Zoidberg?

Why not Zoidberg?

Blue Devil lost his cool!

Blue Devil lost his cool!

Sim Con

Sim Con

Brothers

Brothers

"Kick-Ass? More like Ass....kicked"

“Kick-Ass? More like Ass….kicked”

It's the Age of Ultron!

It’s the Age of Ultron!

And while we're talking about horrific villains...

And while we’re talking about horrific villains…

My OTP

My OTP

Just making his rounds on the inmates

Just making his rounds on the inmates

"I am not too small! I'm PERFECT!"

“I am not too small! I’m PERFECT!”

The Corps United

The Corps United

I can’t believe this weekend is almost over. With only one day left, I already have a to-do list written up of everything I want to accomplish while I still have the chance. I’m flying solo tomorrow (my friend’s beyond exhausted), so I’m going to push myself to finish up Wizard World with a bang!

2 comments on “Wizard World Philadelphia 2014 Day 3

    • Kaif, thanks! It’s really good to know that people are reading these and getting something out of them. When good stuff happens to me I always love sharing!

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