This past weekend, Wizard World added Portland, Oregon into it’s family of shows. It not only my first time to Portland but my return to a Wizard show after a less than stellar experience from their LA con years ago. After a change in management, Wizard has been rebuilding their reputation and brand to once again be a competitive force in the world of comic conventions. As an untapped market, Portland was fertile ground for this kind of show and the fans enthusiasm was evident. Among some of the talent were Stan Lee, Bruce Campbell, Brent Spiner, Morena Baccarin, and more- with Norman Reedus drawing the largest crowds. Here is my brief highlights from the show:
The Oregon Convention Center was quite nice. There was plenty of space on the showroom floor. There wasn’t a huge selection of vendors but that was to be expected for a first year show. Artist Alley was adequate with great access to some amazing talent. Shows like this are great opportunities to meet celebs and artist since the crowds are little more manageable. Stalkers, perfect place to get your creep on :) To round things out, there were about 7 programming rooms running panels for all three days.
The Portland nerds showed up in droves all weekend, with advance ticket holders lines wrapping out of site from the main lobby. Many Portlandians said this was their first show and expressed their sincere gratitude for Wizard World’s arrival. Remarkably, Saturday tickets sold out- not bad for the first year. What really amazed me were the commitment of the volunteers. For most, this was their first comic convention to volunteer and many of them worked all three days just to serve the Portland community. Nerds are awesome.
Cosplayers were present but not in overflow like you would see at a more senior show. It typically takes a few years for the cosplay culture to build in a new area- but there were some great costumes and the final costume contest yielded over 150 talented contestants.
The Walking Dead Dyanamic Duo- Michael Rooker and Norman Reedus riff to the fans delight creating one of the most memorable moments at Portland Comic Con. Reedus has definitely become the new rockstar of these conventions with his signing lines (and panel) being longer than his peers. The evident that the ladies love a bad boy.
Brent Spiner amazes fans with his quick wit and hilarious Patrick Stewart impersonation. He shared about his disdain for his ST:TNG cat Spot, challenges with playing multiple character episodes, and staved off the advances of a Portland stalker. My favorite fan question: “Do you have any good stalker stories and do you have a toothbrush I can have?”.
It was a honor to moderate a few panels among some of the greats in comics. I had a chance to share the stage with Mike Grell, Paul Gulacy, Mike Deodato and the legendary Chris Clarement.
Of course, no convention experience would be complete without some nerd goodies- here I purchased my first (of hopefully many) Doctor Who T-shirt.
One VERY cool thing Portland did was offer an Exclusive re-print of The Walking Dead #1 with a new variant cover by Michael Golden. I think the plan is to offer new variants at other future shows. Here is my signed copy- that sound you just heard is me leveling up :) Overall, I had a great experience and it was awesome to be among fellow Portland nerds. Like any new show, there were bumps and hiccups but that is to be expected. I look forward to attending another show and I think even the Doctor would say that Wizard World brand has a bright future ahead.