Daenerys Targaryen of Game of Thrones is next, shivering in her cerulean cap-sleeved frock and hugging her three stuffed dragons for warmth. She's followed by a Walking Dead zombie, who's leaving a bloody trail in the snow. Star Wars' Chewbacca, covered head to toe in shaggy fur, appears the least bothered by the cold.

The next day, the National Weather Service will declare that St. Louis had endured a record-breaking snowfall on March 24, 2013, its sixth greatest since records began in 1891. But those 12.7 inches of snow made no difference to the crowd heading to the Gateway City's first Wizard World convention at the America's Center.

Inside, Marvel Comics god Stan Lee is holding court in a meeting room, autographing the arm of a man who will later turn the signature into a tattoo. Eisner Award-winning artist Neal Adams is snacking on nachos between sketching for fans. Cosplayers dressed like Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley compare stickers obtained from one of the vendor booths. The aisles are packed with attendees, photo ops and brightly colored merchandise.

Brian Spath screens his Web series Comic Geeks around the country at conventions like Wizard World.
Jon Gitchoff
Brian Spath screens his Web series Comic Geeks around the country at conventions like Wizard World.
Star Trek's William Shatner is one of many celebrities slated to appear at Wizard World St. Louis. John Macaluso stands at right.
Courtesy of Wizard World
Star Trek's William Shatner is one of many celebrities slated to appear at Wizard World St. Louis. John Macaluso stands at right.

Adron Buske, co-creator of the supernatural comic-book series Loop & Hoodie and fantasy comic Good Intentions, can remember it all clearly. "We were blown away by the Sunday showing during that huge snowstorm," he says. "We made more money that day than on either Friday or Saturday — and we had debated even showing up!"

"It was such a great day at the con," adds Wendy Buske, Adron's wife and co-creator and marketing director for Nerd for a Living, which helps the geek-inclined find fulfilling, potential career paths in comics, gaming, anime, film, TV, publishing and more. "It means Wizard World got confirmation that it needs to keep coming to this city. There was nothing like this here before, and people wanted it badly."

All said, tens of thousands of people attended the 2013 convention, surpassing Wizard World's expectations. And this weekend the Buskes and Wizard World are expecting even bigger crowds and more attractions with Adam West of the '60s Batman series, Eliza Dushku of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Matt Smith of Doctor Who all scheduled to greet fans at the America's Center. And taking it all in will be Macaluso, who hopes to keep the geek love blossoming.

"Ultimately, if it wasn't for the fans, we'd have no business, no show," he says. "To see how excited they get, to see them shake in front of a celebrity, to see them sweat and cry, it's terrific. When it all comes down to it — and I really mean this — we want to make the fans happy and give them a great show. Our company will do well if we do that."

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