Non-Nerd's Guide to Wizard World Comic Con

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Ask your nerd friend to identify these awesome people for you. - image via
Ask your nerd friend to identify these awesome people for you.

Do you hear that -- that low hum of anticipation emanating from comic-book shops and Risk tournaments throughout St. Louis? That's the sound of every nerdstuff enthusiast 'gasming as they prepare for Wizard World St. Louis Comic Con, which takes place Friday, March 22, through Sunday, March 24, at America's Center. The event will be a cornucopia of sci-fi and fantasy celebrities, workshops, costumes, collectibles and more.

Yep, it's pretty much every fanboy or fangirl's wet dream.

See also:
- Hungry Nerd's Restaurant Guide to Wizard World Comic Con St. Louis

Wizard World might be a lot for a Muggle like yourself to take in, though. If you don't know Marvel from DC or have no clue how Buffy shared her vampire-slaying powers with thousands of teenage girls, would you even be able to enjoy an event like this? That's the question many of you will be asking as your nerdy spouses and friends coerce you into going to the three-day convention. Luckily, we've got a survival guide for you.

The Basics

Lando's not a system. He's a man. And he'll be at Wizard World. - image via
Lando's not a system. He's a man. And he'll be at Wizard World.

What is this thing, really? It's everything we mentioned above and then some. Dozens of top actors, writers and artists from the television, film, online, comic-book, video-game and toy industries will be talking to fans, giving presentations and signing autographs. There also will be games, giveaways, photo ops, rare collectibles, on-site illustrations and more.

Where did it come from? The event has roots in Wizard, a comic-book pricing guide and pop-culture magazine. Its parent company, Wizard World Entertainment, began hosting conventions in the late '90s, and its cons are now held throughout the world. This is the first year a Wizard World convention has been held in St. Louis.

Who are the big names? Celebrity guests are subject to change, but right now the roster includes Stan Lee, Marvel Comics' biggest name and mastermind behind Spider-Man, X-Men, Daredevil and other major titles; Laurie Holden, "Andrea" from AMC's The Walking Dead; Tom Felton, "Draco Malfoy" in the Harry Potter movies; Billy Dee Williams, "Lando" from the original Star Wars trilogy and spokesman for Colt 45 malt liquor; and Morena Baccarin, "Jessica" on Homeland and "Inara" from Firefly. There also are a ton of St. Louis-based industry professionals on the docket. Find out more here.

Inside the Con

Where do I buy tickets? You can order general one-day and three-day tickets on the Wizard World website, or you can get them at America's Center at the door for an extra $10. You also can request tickets for autograph sessions and photo ops. Here's some more ticket info.

How's it set up? Have you ever been to a major trade show, craft fair or sports-fan event? It's kind of like that, but on crack and with more costumes. Rows of tables, booths and activities snake through the convention center, with their representatives offering information, takeaways, merchandise or services (floor layout here). Celebrities are available on a special schedule, either at their own booths, at panel events or at VIP shindigs. Within one hour, you might pick up a comic book, play a round of Settlers of Catan, take a photo with Batman and hear what it's like working on professional zombie makeup.

This variant cover by Arthur Suydam for "The Walking Dead" #1 is a St. Louis exclusive. - provided by Wizard World
provided by Wizard World
This variant cover by Arthur Suydam for "The Walking Dead" #1 is a St. Louis exclusive.

What happens during the special events? During panels, celebrities and industry experts discuss specific topics and answer fan questions. Some of the panels deal with filmmaking, the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, creating comic books on an iPad and St. Louis' own Voltron television series. There are some special meet-and-greets and Q&A sessions, too, including those with Marvel's Stan Lee and members of The Walking Dead. You can read the programming schedule.

Will I get swag? We'd be surprised if you walked away with nothing. In addition to the purchasing opportunities, many booth owners hand out freebies or coupons. You'll likely fill a bag with buttons, plastic rings, figurines, patches, books, game pieces and more. You also could pick up items that are exclusive to the St. Louis con, such as illustrations, comics and lithographs. In addition, there are plenty of prize drawings and special gifts.

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