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Wizard World Portland Comic Con 2014 Review

Clockwork Droids  Lebowski

Cosplay of the Clockwork Droids from “Doctor Who” and The Dude, Donnie, and Walter from “The Big Lebowski.”

After testing the waters in Portland for the first time with their successful 2013 event, Wizard World Portland went all out for their 2014 show. Not only were there more guests, but the convention also took up more space in the Oregon Convention Center’s Exhibit Halls and Ballrooms. Basically, everything was bigger for their second show in the Rose City.

Last year, WW was criticized for a lack of comic industry talent, but the naysayers were silenced this year when the company brought out big guns like Eric Powell (“The Goon”), Stan “The Man” Lee (credits too numerous to mention), George Perez (DC Comics galore), Randy Stradley (Dark Horse “Star Wars” comics), Brian Michael Bendis (in a panel only appearance), Mike Allred (“Madman”), Jim Valentino (Marvel Comics artist and Image Comics co-founder), Neal Adams (award winning DC Comics artist), and Randy Emberlin (“Spider-Man” artist). Virtually everywhere you turned you could see a comic book legend. Of course, there were plenty of other truly talented lesser known artists like Charlie Donkin (whose booth was always packed with people whenever I caught a glimpse of it), The Pumpkin Geek (an insanely talented custom pumpkin carver), and the feline artwork artist Jenny Parks.

Alien  11 Foot Alien Cosplay

While it may be called “Comic Con,” the Wizard World conventions are essentially multi-media events. Whether it appeals to you or not, film and TV celebrities are the big draw for these shows and this year was no exception as crowds flocked to “Star Wars” stars Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and Ray Park (Darth Maul), “The Walking Dead” cast members Michael Rooker, Jon Bernthal, and Laurie Holden, “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” icon Jason David Frank (the first Green Ranger), the original Freddy Kruger Robert Englund, Nicholas Brendon (of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” fame), Elvira (in costume!), and Adam West (“Batman” himself). The biggest stars, however, proved to be William Shatner (“Star Trek” and “The Twilight Zone”), Summer Glau (River of “Firefly” and “Serenity”), and the fan favorite Norman Reedus who portrays Daryl on “The Walking Dead.” Even though Reedus appeared at last year’s show, he seemed even MORE popular this year as the autograph booth line stretched to Moda Center (I’m only slightly exaggerating here).

elvira Elvira. The real one.

Reality show/unscripted series stars proved to be popular this year as Grant Wilson (formerly of “Ghost Hunters”), Aaron Goodwin (“Ghost Adventures,”), Ryan Glitch (host of the vastly underrated “Geek Love” web and TV series), and multiple stars from the Discovery Channel series “Gold Rush” made appearances. Perhaps the biggest surprise, however, was the fact that several shows were actually filming AT the con. SyFy Channel’s “Heroes of Cosplay” (which also filmed at the con last year) was lensing again while the unbilled Jordan Hembrough was simultaneously manning the Hollywood Heroes booth and filming an episode of the addicting “Toy Hunter” series (the third season of which premieres Jan. 29th).

Toy Hunter Jordan Hembrough (The Toy Hunter) penning an autograph.

While it may not be something one associates with a comic convention, the sports demographic was well represented here as well. WWE superstar CM Punk was a bonafide hit at the con as was Portland Trail Blazers Center Robin Lopez (who was dubbed the Ambassador of Portland Comic Con). As an added bonus, local radio sportscasters Isaac and Big Suke made a cameo appearance on Friday as they recorded an entire show live from the Exhibit Hall floor.

Rolo The towering Robin Lopez couldn’t be missed.

On the subject of the Exhibit Hall, there were decidedly less exhibitors this year (not including artist alley and the autograph booths in this conversation). Sure, there were some great displays such as the “Back To The Future” DeLorean replica and the Droid Builders, but there were strangely less shops to choose from (and even less comic book centric ones). Many of the businesses setting up shop were repeats from last year with only a few new exhibitors of note (namely Dark Horse Comics and Whimsic Alley). With all of that said, I’m still happy to see local stores such as D&S Sci-Fi Toy World and Bridge City Comics getting the attention they deserve at this show.

DeLorean DeLorean with Hoverboard

As per usual, one of the most enjoyable aspects of Wizard World (or any con for that matter) is observing and or snapping pictures of cosplayers (professional or otherwise). Since there was a costume contest taking place on Saturday, costumes were everywhere that day. Among the highlights that I saw over the weekend included a child dressed as Bumblebee, not one, but two Quail Mans (from the 90’s animated series “Doug”), Muppets, an 11 foot alien, an Unggoy from the “Halo” video game series, a Totoro Batman, Rita from ‘Power Rangers,’ and last, but not least, a trio dressed as The Dude, Donnie and Walter from “The Big Lebowski.” Above all else, however, “Doctor Who” was once again THE costume of choice amongst local fanboys and fangirls of all ages. Considering Portland is home to a HUGE Whovian fanbase and the TARDIS Room bar, it’s rather absurd that there has yet to be a “Doctor Who” guest lined up. Hopefully, next year Wizard World Portland will correct this gross oversight and schedule one (or more) “Doctor Who” cast members.

Muppets   Quail Man

Muppets!                                                                        Quail Man!

The biggest improvement over last year’s show was, without question, the panels. Last year, the panels were housed in small, small rooms, but this year, many of them were thankfully moved to the massive ballrooms. Over the course of three days, there were over 80 panels to choose from with subjects involving Buffy Season 10 comic books, speed dating, celebs, a film festival, video games, a concert from The Doubleclicks, web comics, and trivia.

Dark Horse Dark Horse Comics booth.

Since dvdcorner is primarily a film and TV centric site, the Ron Perlman/Kim Coates and Bruce Campbell/Ted Raimi panels were of the utmost priority for this site. Even though it was billed as a “Sons of Anarchy” event, the Perlman/Coates panel covered a wide range of film and TV subjects including Guillermo del Toro, “The Name of the Rose,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Resident Evil,” “Hellboy,” and “Alien: Resurrection.” Between the stone faced comedy of Perlman and his banter with the lively Coates, it was an entertaining 45 minutes to be sure.

As for the standing room only Campbell/Raimi panel (which was preceded by a trailer and exclusive clip to the upcoming CGI ladden Sony Pictures disaster flick “Pompeii”), it wasn’t quite what fans were expecting. Instead of doing the usual Q&A, the two decided to mix things up by “making a movie” with audience members. For over 45 minutes, the two picked a producer, a writer, a director, and an actor and an actress from the crowd to create a zombie love story scene on a $25 budget. While the panel fizzled out near the end as time ran out, the two did amusingly demonstrate (and mock) the movie making process.

Rita Rita cosplayer with random guy.

As lively and organized as convention was this year, it wasn’t without its faults. As I mentioned before, there was a clear lack of exhibitors, but more than that, there was a clear lack of room to navigate the exhibitors. Since a very large chunk of space was devoted to the autograph booths and photo ops area, the exhibitors and artist alley areas were very cramped, crowded, hot and humid as a result (especially on Saturday AKA the busy day). Perhaps next year the photo op/autograph area can be in a different room from the exhibitors to allow more room to move/breathe?

Overall Thoughts: Despite a few issues, there’s no question that the second Portland Comic Con was bigger and more ambitious than its predecessor. With more guests and more attendees, it’s a no brainer that Wizard World Portland is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

Bumblebee Bumblee Kid  Totoro Batman Totoro and company.

* Photos provided by Kathryn Perkins.

January 26, 2014 - Posted by | News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. Man, that was a blast! My son, nephew and I were the Big Lebowski characters! Thanks for the love! Vote for us on the Wizard World Facebook page, under Photos – Albums – Cosplay Circuit Digital Hall Awards – Portland – Picture 265

    Comment by Rob Bertrand | January 29, 2014 | Reply

    • Hi Rob. Thanks for the comment! Do you happen to know where this review was linked on Facebook? I’m getting a lot of traffic from FB, but I have no idea from where.

      Comment by nicklyons1 | January 29, 2014 | Reply

      • I shared it from my personal Facebook page. A friend at work sent me the link via email. My son and nephew shared it too. (The Dude and Donnie)

        Comment by Rob Bertrand | January 29, 2014

      • Great! Thank you for the views! Just voted for you!

        Comment by nicklyons1 | January 29, 2014


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