The X-Files. Star Wars. Star Trek. Daredevil. The Walking Dead. Back to the Future. Game of Thrones. Ash vs. The Evil Dead. Clerks. Gilmore Girls. Gotham. Chances are, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve seen at least one of these shows. If you’re like me, you may have seen most of them, and may be a huge fan of a select few. If you are, and you’ve got some free time this weekend, Wizard World Chicago is the place you’ll want to be. Starting on Thursday, the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont will be the hub for all things pop culture, nerd culture and horror related. If you’ve never attended a comic con, you might feel a little intimidated, but don’t be afraid. You’ve probably heard the bad when it comes to cons–long lines, con crud, crowds and pricey merchandise–but come in with a plan, comfy shoes and an open mind and you’ll have a fantastic time.
Some of the big names this year are sure to impress. Carrie Fisher, Kate Mulgrew and Gillian Anderson are some leading ladies we can’t wait to meet there, and if you’re an X-Files fan, you’ll be happy to see that David Duchovny, Mitch Pileggi and William B. Davis will be there as well. If you’re a fan of either Daredevil or Ash vs. The Evil Dead (and I’m a fan of both), you’ll find that the main casts of both shows will be in attendance, too. It’s an impressively long guest list, and an equally impressive set of panels to attend. There’s something for just about everyone, from a Back to the Future reunion to “Snootchie Bootchies” with Jason Mewes of Clerks fame.
When I attend a con, the first thing I do is make a list of can’t-miss events. Find out what day or days the things you want to see most happen, and prioritize these. Then, if you really want to get the con experience, dig deeper into the schedule, and add some educational panels, like the ones Wizard World Chicago will be offering on cosplay makeup, photography and even ethics in nerd culture, touching on issues such as whitewashing in popular media, gender equality and the importance of self care. You can also learn what it takes to break into the comic or video game industry as either a writer or a designer.
Then there’s the floor. I like to look for a big open slot of time in my schedule to walk the floor from start to finish, because there WILL be crowds, and I like to get a good look at all the unique merchandise as well as having time to admire the cosplay marvels walking the floor along with me. There’s a cosplay contest open to anyone on Saturday, but whether you attend that or not, you’re sure to see some amazing artistry just walking the aisles.
The word “nerd” might have lost some of its original stigma and meaning, but for us, it’s about true excitement for and immersion in some form of entertainment. Whether that’s films, comic books, TV, literature or tabletop games, to be a nerd is to be passionate about the things you love, and not care who else knows it. Cons are a great place to meet communities of people who love the same things you do, ask questions of your favorite stars in their panels (I’m already concocting one for Kate Mulgrew in the “Aboard the USS Voyager” panel on Saturday), compliment cosplayers on their hard work, and maybe check out something new you don’t know anything about. Let your nerd flag fly, and soak up as much of that goodness as you can.
For a list of guests and the schedule of panels, click here. Then grab some tickets and prepare for your weekend adventure.
Wizard World Chicago takes place Thursday through Sunday at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N. River Rd. Hours are 3pm to 8pm Thursday, 12noon to 7pm Friday, 10am to 7pm Saturday and 10am to 5pm Sunday. Tickets are $40 to $60 for single-day admission or $95 for the full weekend. To get there on the CTA, take the Blue Line to the Rosemont station and walk two blocks south.