This past weekend, comic book appreciators descended upon the Pennsylvanian Convention Center in order to attend the annual Philadelphia Comic Con organized by Wizard World.
With artist booths and vendors set up as far as the eye could see, attendees were able to browse the displayed collectibles and apparel, though they had to maneuver through thick crowds in order to do so. While there was a surplus of genres and various medias represented, comic books were still the biggest draw of the event, with dozens of stalls set up to buy and sell comics. Entire aisles dedicated to comic book artists also took up a considerable amount of floor space, which each artist showcasing their art or working on personal pieces for fans.
Of course, the Philadelphia Comic Con wouldn’t be the same without the dedicated cosplayers who attend every year. This year, they made it out in droves. For the uninitiated, cosplayers are dedicated fans to their favorite franchises that dress as their favorite characters. Costumes weren’t limited to comic books either – members of the “Firefly” crew were seen eating hotdogs, “Halo” and “Metal Gear Solid” soldiers were walking about and various “Game of Thrones” contenders were seen alive and out in full force.
Lori Wilson, of State College, opted to attend this year’s Comic Con dressed as Daenerys Targaryen from “Game of Thrones.” “She’s very strong and powerful.” Wilson said, “I just like her.”
Wilson had previously attended the Philadelphia Comic Con only once before – last year. She enjoyed last year’s convention immensely, which is why she opted to undertake the five-hour drive to Philadelphia once more.
“It’s just a lot of fun,” she said.
Several fan organizations had also set up shop using the event as a way to recruit. Members of Pennsylvania Jedi and New York Jedi took part in large, choreographed lightsaber demonstrations and the Browncoats of New York and Pennsylvania, fans of “Firefly” had booths.
Aside from battling on the stage, with children watching eagerly, Jedi Master Flynn Michael also set aside time to speak with his growing audience. Not only did the founder of New York Jedi demonstrate some of the moves his students were taught, he even took some time to lead a small class.
“This lightsaber, this is a weapon” he said, addressing the crowd. “You never want to hold it like this…” he demonstrated holding the saber by the blade. When he asked why, several children shouted back that he would cut his hand off.
Of course, not everyone who attended came in costume. Michael Brighton, of Doylestown, Pa., takes his eight-year-old son Joshua to the convention whenever he can.
“The great thing is, it’s always on a weekend,” he said, before quickly instructing Joshua to not touch the swords that were on display on a nearby shelf.
“He’s always been interested in Sci-Fi and superheroes. He has ‘Superman’ pajamas he wears every night, he is obsessed with ‘Iron Man’ and ‘the Avengers’,” Brighton said. Joshua’s appreciation for Iron Man was noted, he was sporting a plastic “Iron Man” mask.
“The great part is, he gets excited whenever he sees a superhero he likes and the people who dress up, they always interact with him,” he said. “It’s just a great event all around.”
In the very back of the convention center are enclosed areas dedicated to the actors and actresses who attend as special gusts. This year, Summer Glau and Gina Torres from “Firefly” were in attendance, as well as Norman Reedus from “the Walking Dead”, WWE’s John Cena and Comic Con legends Stan Lee and William Shatner. Lines for each of stars were long, with most wrapping around several booths.
“You don’t get to see your favorite character every day,” Amy Laurens, from Lewisberry, Pa., said.
The University of Pennsylvania student put off returning to her hometown for the summer in order to attend Comic Con. Instead of looking around at the stands when they first entered, Laurens decided beeline straight for Reedus’ booth.
“It’s all about opportunity. Even if it means nothing to [Reedus], it means something to me,” she said.
Even at 4 p.m. on Sunday, an hour before the Philadelphia Comic Con was scheduled to close for the year, the convention center was still packed with many purchasing last minute items even as vendors began packing away their products.
This year, the Philadelphia Comic Con was a success, with Wizard World calling it Philadelphia’s largest convention yet. By Monday morning, Wizard World also announced the dates for next year’s convention – June 19-22, 2014. If you missed this year’s Comic Con and can’t wait until next year, don’t fret – another Wizard World convention, New York Comic Con, is slated to begin at the end of the June.
Samantha Tighe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SamTighe.[juicebox gallery_id=”100″]