This past weekend was the inaugural year for Wizard World in Pittsburgh, PA. What’cha Reading had the opportunity to visit the event on Friday, September 11th and Saturday, September 12th which turned out to be quite the productive weekend for us as the good people at Wizard World made sure that everyone had a fun experience. With countless celebrities offering fans the chance to participate in autograph signings and photo ops, an eclectic amount of vendors, and a convention center that offers natural lighting, Wizard World turned out to be just as vastly different from New York’s Special Edition and Comic Con as there are miles between the Steel City and the Big Apple. It was an unforgettable weekend and one that we will gladly tell you about here.
Over the years, most successful comic conventions have become more of a pop-culture event than anything else. Highlighting the best of the most buzz worthy movies, cartoons, television series, comics, and collectibles – each convention normally has a significant amount to make any fan feel at home. If there’s one thing that I’ve seen that makes a successful convention, it’s the attention paid to what the fans want. That’s why as commercialized as many feel San Diego and New York Comic Con have become, they remain at the very top of the event list for those around the world that make these events such hits in the first place. This is where Wizard World comes in. If there’s one predominant name in how to put together a show and well, those at Wizard are some of the best. They’ve been doing it for a while and public relations manager Jerry Milani is someone who exemplifies in every way what a pr manager should be. Upon arriving at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, for those well versed in their convention experiences, especially New York ones, you’d realize that the Pittsburgh edition is a marvelous throwback to the days where one could actually attend a con without feeling claustrophobic nor as if they were attending a meeting with a high-ranking government official.
The show floor, housed at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, is excitingly different when compared to the Jacob Javits Center, Pier 94, and the various other venues that. Offering natural lighting and ample space, this was one of the first aspects Mr. Jerry Milani was sure to point out. While Friday, September 11th was a bright and sunny day, Saturday, September 12th was overcast. Yet both days, featuring the massive natural lighting gave Wizard World Pittsburgh a fantastic feel. It was easily one of the most clean of shows, especially considering the feedback that came through after this summer’s Eternal Con.
Wizard World in this year booked triple the number in locations than of what they booked last year. Pittsburgh is one of nine new cities on its roster. Public safety officials and Mayor Bill Peduto were on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday. In speaking with Mayor Peduto, he went on to welcome us to the city, and inform us that the city is quite proud of its inclusion in The Dark Knight Rises.
Over the course of two fun days, I was afforded the opportunity speak with Mr. Lou Ferrigno of The Incredible Hulk fame. I’d like to thank Mr. Jerry Milani for making this happen. You could check out our interview here.
On Saturday, I was afforded the opportunity to sit in on the panel for CBS’s Supergirl. Dean Cain took the stage in Room 305 and despite minor sound issues, the presentation was very enjoyable, along with a room filled with enthusiastic fans. Everyone in attendance were handed temporary Supergirl tattoos and got to watch the pilot episode in full. You could read What’cha Reading’s advance review here.
On a side note, before I went out to Wizard World on Saturday I had some time to explore the city. One of my first stops was PPG Place, a building complex located at 1 PPG Place, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. According to Kevin Smith, in the documentary The Death of Superman Lives. What Happened?, the PPG Place was supposed to be the location of Lexcorp. The Tim Burton film starring Nicolas Cage would have turned the 5.5 acre, three-city block site in downtown Pittsburgh into a fantastic looking Lexcorp complex. I would have loved seeing that happen and if you watch the documentary, I’m sure you’ll agree too.
Again, What’cha Reading would like to thank Jerry Milani and Wizard World for allowing us to visit their fun convention. It was a much different kind of experience for this New Yorker and an excellent opportunity. Those that volunteer and those that are part of the staff; all those involved in making Wizard World such a hit show work endlessly in making sure everything runs smoothly. Throughout the day it would not be surprising to see Jerry Milani walking around and checking in with those attending. Now name a comic show that has someone as devoted to the event as that!
The next Wizard World convention will take place this September 18, 19, and 20th in Columbus, Ohio. For more information, please check out Wizard World’s home at this link http://www.wizardworld.com/