Greetings Gothamites! I write to you to share my first time at Walker Stalker Con at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey. The journey is not long, the bus ride from 42nd St. to the Exposition Center was no more than 15 minutes, but it gave me enough time to chat about The Walking Dead and Gotham with three other first-timers. The Exposition Center itself was small but homey, which I’ve taken a liking to when it comes to con events. At the entrance, there was a zombie apocalypse simulator which mimicked the environment of The Walking Dead. I got my wristband in the lobby then walked into the main showroom. The middle of the floor was strictly vendors while the walls were lined with autograph tables and a Walking Dead RV stage which I found out was used as the location for the various panels being held. (I asked one of my new friends Wade, originally from Miami, which guest’s autograph he wanted the most and he replied, “I’m here as a guest of a friend. I love the show but I’m not here for autographs.” Wade, wherever you are, it was nice meeting you.)
Norman Reedus was the biggest draw in the con with a full crowd at 9:30am! I walked around to explore and get an idea of the layout. I asked a volunteer where the Gotham stars were set up and she led me to a downstairs area which was actually a converted parking level. Eureka! I had found what I was looking for.
Upon going through a curtain, I was greeted with the smell of popcorn and as I kept walking I saw against the wall, five tables lined up starting with Robin Lord Taylor. While I walked down the line, Sean Pertwee was the first cast member at his table so I stopped over for a selfie with the beloved butler. We talked about the time we met at Wizard World Pittsburgh and then I was on my way back to R.L.T. I took my place on line and waited patiently to meet Oswald Cobblepot himself. He was a great guy who took his time with the fans and was appreciative of the fact I came to see him and his fellow cast. Taylor had a big smile on his face the whole time he was there which got bigger when I told him I too have a drawing of him done by the famous Neil Adams. After a handshake and a smile, I was off to the next booth.
We all know Butch Gilzean as the right-hand man and enforcer of both Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett-Smith) and Oswald Cobblepot. In real life, his name is Drew Powell and he is the nicest guy you can meet, a gentle giant. He mentioned how he had just moved to my old neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY so I suggested a good restaurant to try out. He and Robin shook hands so I’m guessing they put the chopping off the hand incident behind them. He did sign a great photo of himself with Fish Mooney. There was only one more actor left on my list, Ben McKenzie.
I had just missed Ben’s first session so I decided to walk around for a little while to kill some time. As I passed David Mazouz’s booth I couldn’t help but notice our little Bruce is growing up. He had a decent crowd waiting to meet him though the biggest Gotham crowd award went to Robin Lord Taylor. By this time, the general crowd was increasing and it was getting tight to move but I managed. Remember folks, a little courtesy goes a long way. As I walked I noticed a crowd and people talking on the microphone in front of the Walking Dead RV stage. It was a Gotham panel! I stayed for about 7 minutes just listening to what the group had to say. I saw it was getting closer to Ben’s autograph time so I made my way back down to the lower level when I happened upon a tiny stage with a sign that read “Walker Stalker Live!” As I couldn’t get an autograph from a cast member, I decided to stick around as I couldn’t leave Walker Stalker without something Walking Dead-related. The guest for the 10-minute session was the character fans seemed to love to hate, Nicholas, played by Michael Traynor. When that was over, it was back to Ben McKenzie.
I made sure to be right up front to avoid a long wait and I got my wish as I was third in line. He ran late but he made it nonetheless. Like the rest of the cast, was cool and appreciative of the Gotham fanbase. He commented on my The Dark Knight-themed attire and seemed honored when I told him the sole reason I attended was to meet the cast of the show. Ben was my last autograph of the day and I felt accomplished.
Walker Stalker Con experience in general was great. It wasn’t the most organized at times, especially when it came to sorting out VIPs, general admission, etc. on autograph lines but at the same time, it was kept under control and for the most part ran well. There was plenty of security making sure guests followed the rules while getting around quickly and efficiently. Since visiting events like Eternal Con and Wizard World, the small cons have grown on me. They are more intimate, fan-friendly and give ordinary small-business vendors a chance to make a few bucks for a weekend. I would definitely go back to a Meadowlands Expo con event. The trip was cheap (round-trip in and out of New York City is only $8.50) and convenient with an arriving bus stop in front of the facility and two departing stops on each end of the block across the street. The staff knew their stuff and I had no trouble getting my wristband or asking questions. Meeting the cast of Gotham was not only exciting, but it will certainly help hold me over until the show’s return February 29.
To see upcoming Walker Stalker Con events shamble over to their site! To Read about more things Joe is doing to stave off insanity during Gotham’s hiatus check out Gotham – Five Things We’ll Miss (during the mid-season hiatus). And be sure to catch Gotham when it returns on February 29th on FOX!