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Amid Celebs and Costume Contests, A Little Learning
With another edition of Wizard World Comic Con in the books, Christilisa Gilmore surveys the entire event, and ponders some of the event's often-overlooked educational panels.
The end may be nigh according to the Mayans, but Wizard World made sure to help with the impending end of days during this weekend's Comic Con in New Orleans with its most timely panel: How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse.
The panel ran down the necessary objects to survive, such as a shotgun, an axe, and a checklist but for some reason cardio was left off this all important list. Solar powered chainsaws, however, did make their way into the conversation. (Still not a good idea.)
The panel was just one of the ways Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con made another jump through time and space to bring the fans and fun to New Orleans.
Walking into the Morial Convention Center's Hall H to witness the takeover was like stepping into another city, another time even. There was a lounge area in front, making it easy to relax when moving about the floor got to be too much. An added feature this time around were lounges set up for cosplay and artists. The cozy new additions made the Con more intimate providing that home/family feel that was missing over Wizard World's two prior stops in New Orleans.The merchandise booths filled with products that made this convention possible overflowed, waiting for hands of children and adults alike to give them a permanent home, lined the walkways. On the outskirts, the fan clubs and artist booths were creating and enticing people to come over and join.
This creation of comics and artwork shows how much comics have grown to be a part of our society more than ever before. Some say that is a result of the post 9/11 life, where escaping from the pain and truth of reality, is how we as a society have learned to cope. Sitting in Vampire Lore and Urban Myths and Stan Lee Heroes and Psychology panels, there was something explained and introduced that is normally overlooked: the true appeal of a myth, an urban legend, a super hero, a villain, a lover, a friend, family, disfunction, guilt, and compassion.
All of those things are prevalent in comics and teach us so much more than that universal dichotomy of good vs. evil. Dr. Travis Langley, a psychologist gave a different interpretation of what comics can offer and how it addressed issues such as guilt and family dysfunctionTake for example, Spiderman is dealing with guilt because he is the reason why Uncle Ben is murdered. In a unconventional way, he deals with this guilt. He develops powers that help him avenge Uncle Ben’s death. And on the other side of the spectrum pertaining to guilt, there is Bruce Wayne, better known as Batman. He witnessed his parents' murder, which takes him down a road that he otherwise would have avoided. .
A psychological examination of comics is common but there is also a historical undertone in comics as well.
“The historical beginning of topics like vampires and werewolves can be traced back to the story of the Hindu God, Kali as well as the story of Lilith, “ Dr. Rebecca Housel began on her panel, Vampire Lore and other Urban Myths. The panel continued to enlighten as well as entertain, especially after having some tech issues. Once the tech guy finally arrived, Dr Housel’s eyes lit up and she said, “I just got wet.” Never a dull moment at Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con.
The New Orleans Public Library possibly had the most interesting and important panel of the convention.
“When I first started working at the main branch on the corner of Loyola and Tulane, there were 14 comics that were hidden in the 741s. Which is labeled as 'cartoony,'" ara Olivia Melton explained during the Getting Graphic in the Library panel. The list of conflicts that a library faces concerning comics/graphic novels is overwhelming.
From proper placement, age appropriate labeling, to getting the word out that there is even a comic book section at the library, as well as, getting other people to see the importance of having comics/graphic novels be accessible. Being part of events such as comic conventions allows for that outreach and dialogue to take place. “Doing events like this and being part of outreach programs helps us get the word out. We’re not looking for money this time, just want to let people know what we have,” Melton states.
To be sure, the educational information that could have been obtained was overlooked by most Con goers in favor of recognizable faces. The celebrity panels are frequented more simply because for most of them, this is their first time to this market. There are also those celebrities who are that popular that get invited back such as the Boondock Saints (Sean Patrick Flanery and David Della Rocco) and Marvel Comics founder Stan Lee. The Saints were their rambunctious and vulgar selves while Stan Lee was the epitome of cool, as always.
Unfortunately there is no clear and easy way to make it easier to chose panels, but that is just the product of having events such as these with a wide range of topics. Another event that was split was the costume contest this year. The costume contest grows every time Wizard World returns. So, to make it easier on finding out the winners, the final reveal happened at The Metro nightclub. Surprisingly, the move from the Convention Center to the Metro happened in a timely fashion. For a city that believes in costumes no matter what day it is, there didn’t seem to be unique, custom made, outstanding costumes. Though there are two that stood out the most and happened to win honors in the contest. The first was the Best Female Villain: The Weeping Angel from Doctor Who was a great replica of the scary creatures. The winner of it all was: General Grievous (of Star Wars), who received a trophy and $200.
All in all, Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con put on a great event for it to be such a fast turnaround from the beginning of the year. New Orleans is slowly becoming a market that has an appeal for events like this.
“We try to build each year and the guest list this year is the best we have had, by far,” Wizard World's Jerry Milani said.
The continued success and growth of this event is set to stun with each blast.
Dead Huey Long, Emma Boyce, Elizabeth Davas, Ian Hoch, Lindsay Mack, Anna Gaca, Jason Raymond, Lee Matalone, Phil Yiannopoulos, Joe Shriner, Chris Staudinger, Chef Anthony Scanio, Tierney Monaghan, Stacy Coco, Rob Ingraham,
Brandon Roberts, Rachel June, Daniel Paschall
Michael Weber, B.A.
B. E. Mintz
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