This is the first of a two-part piece on my time at the Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con. As you’ll read below, my experiences at a convention like this are not necessarily the same as an ordinary attendee. Today’s post will cover the first three days I spent at the convention, which for me was Wednesday to Friday. Tomorrow’s post will cover the big day – the arrival of Matt and Karen – as well as the last day of the convention. I hope you enjoy my unique perspective on things!
I am not the typical convention goer.
To pay the price to walk around a big open space and maybe see celebrities and attend panels about fan films and other topics is not how I do things, mainly because, to be honest, I’m broke. A bit lacking in the paying job area right now.
So I am one of the few, the proud, the foot tired, the sometimes harassed. The one to whom every question is directed from “Where are the bathrooms?” to “Where is *insert name of celebrity* signing autographs at?” I am a volunteer.
For the third year now, I have willingly given up 5 days of my life to help the Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con run smoothly.
This has proved hectic and back-breaking but absolutely rewarding as well. I get to experience a side of things that others do not. I get to see how hard people really do work so that everyone has a good time and how far those same people will go to make things right for those whose experience wasn’t all it was supposed to be.
And I can say I have now seen the TARDIS move through the vortex. Or at least over a convention floor.
(To move her physically when her engines aren’t working takes about 40 minutes, more than one Doctor, and a few companions…)
When we volunteers arrive on Wednesday afternoon, much of the physical work to set up the convention floor, registration area, and panel rooms is almost complete and there are tables and booths as far the eye can see on the convention floor. Towers of t-shirts and walls of artwork are already making the room brightly coloured. In a short 24 hours, this whole room will be packed with almost every superhero, anime, and sci-fi item available.
Those of us in the yellow shirts (Wizard World’s colour of choice for its volunteer shirts this year in Philly) are tasked with filling those bags that everyone ends up with that have all kinds of fliers and pamphlets advertising things at the convention. Not a glamorous job, but those bags won’t fill themselves! It is a rite of passage for those new to the volunteer crew and a great way to get to know everyone.
Wednesday also brings with it a kick-off party this year. Drinks and dancing and a good time is on hand for all who attend, including a few of the stars who will be appearing this weekend at the convention. Ever want to get to meet Jason David Frank from the Power Rangers or Michael Rooker from The Walking Dead? This was a great time to do just that, as both spent a great deal of time with the media and with the fans, taking pictures and meeting all sorts of people. And where else could you get to see a star willingly get up and ride a mechanical bull!? Mr. Rooker delighted us all by doing just that!
Thursday brings the actual start of the convention. This is when the real work begins. We will greet all of the fans coming to the show, get them checked in and given their wristbands for the day or for the weekend, and direct them where to go and how to get to the all that is taking place during the convention. All of it sounds rather dull, but this, for me is where the fun starts. Everyone coming in is so excited to be there and they all can’t wait to see what the massive convention floor will hold this year. Many arrive in costume, all proudly displaying their passion for their fandom. I even get in on the act – wearing my customary bow tie. A subtle but huge hint to where my fandom loyalties lie.
Friday is when the real fun begins at Wizard World. The stars come out! And with them come many, many more people, all clamouring to see who they can see. And tonight will mark the arrival of the two stars many of us have been anxiously waiting for – Matt Smith and Karen Gillan!
My job the last two years as a volunteer has largely been one of getting to hang out with the TARDIS all day. Rough work, let me tell you. While some volunteers really want to work at a booth with a celebrity, which usually includes controlling the line of people waiting to see whoever it is, I personally get more enjoyment out of working with those that costume and cosplay. Since a convention like this isn’t geared directly towards anime or to a fandom like Doctor Who, fans of every property come out and wear their best. Since I am stationed near the lovely blue box, I see think I see every fan of the Doctor who is at the convention that day. Even a Dalek stopped by!
Did I mention that the TARDIS was given a home on the convention floor that could not have been in a better place? Just steps from Smith and Gillan’s autograph booths! This will prove interesting as the night draws on their impending arrival and on Saturday, when the biggest crowds of all are expected to attend.
Tune in again soon, dear K reader, for more on my time at Wizard World Philly, including Smith and Gillan’s q&a panel and the appearance of all the Doctors! (In costume cosplay at least…)
For more of my pictures from the weekend (as well as pics from past conventions) check out my Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con album on Flickr! It features loads more photos of the lovely TARDIS as well as some hints at stories for my next post!
(Photos courtesy of Andrew Swetz)