Wizard World. To say that it’s an event is an understatement. It’s basically Geek Christmas come to town in the form of a pop culture deluge of celebrities, artists, vendors, panels, cosplay, gaming and more. The term “nerdvana” is completely applicable when referring to one of the largest comic cons in the entire country. In anticipation of the upcoming Wizard World St. Louis, I spoke with their Public Relations Manager, Jerry Milani. (The actual audio was not available due to a bad sound card on the computer being used to record it.)
GeekToMeRadio: Wizard World STL is rolling around again. It is April 1 – 3 this year. I was looking at the schedule on your website – did you add more cities this year?
Jerry Milani: What was done: We’ve gone from 8 cities in 2013, we doubled to 16 cities in 2014 and then we went half again to 24 last year. We’re at 19 this year. We’ve taken some of the shows and moved them to 2017. But St. Louis is one of those shows that we have to do every single year, so here we are!
GeekToMeRadio: And we’re very excited to have you here. I saw the guest list for the upcoming show and this may be the biggest roster of stars that we’ve had come to town since Wizard World STL started. You originally had David Tennant and Billie Piper, which on it’s own is amazing, but then you added Charlie Cox, Elden Henson & Jon Bernthal from ‘Daredevil‘, Matt Smith from ‘Doctor Who‘, Krysten Ritter and Mike Colter from ‘Jessica Jones‘, there’s William Shatner, Lou Ferrigno… Do you hold back any announcements until the event gets closer or do you announce them as soon as you know?
Jerry Milani: We’d rather know and announce sooner so that people have more time to plan. We didn’t know that David Tennant and Matt Smith would both be available for this date until a few weeks ago. We originally announced a show that will be 2 weeks after St. Louis in NYC that we were all excited about because that was going to be the first time that they were ever together in a public event. Now that first time will be in St. Louis so it’s very, very exciting. We don’t do a New York show so this was our opportunity to have them both together in NYC and get the Doctor Who fandom together. But then when that was set, David and Matt had a chance to look at their schedules and saw that they were able to accommodate some other cities as well. So now we’re going to have The Tennant & Smith Show almost like a little tour of it’s own. But as you mentioned, it’s not the only thing. You mentioned all the big names. Krysten Ritter did one of our shows early in the year and had a great time. We’re happy that Krysten and Mike Coulter were able to work the other shows into their schedules. Charlie Cox and Elden Henson will make their Wizard World debut in St. Louis and with ‘Daredevil’ and ‘Jessica Jones’ being such big hits, this is a great way to introduce them to our series by doing some of these shows early on and we hope it will be a permanent thing for them.
GeekToMeRadio: With so much going on and all of these fantastic guests, it can be a little daunting and overwhelming. For someone who is new to the whole comic con experience, what advice would you give to navigating Wizard World.
Jerry Milani: Prepare beforehand! Make a plan and maybe walk around the first hour and see what we have happening so you can get an idea of what you want to see. Make mental notes about what you want to do and see while you’re there. Obviously if you’re there for a particular celebrity, then you’ll want to work your schedule around that – their autograph and photo op sessions, their Q & A panels, etc. I don’t think it’s something that you can do in just one day. If you’re just there to meet David Tennant because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, then that might be something that you to do on a Saturday. But most fans will probably want to be there the whole weekend because it is such a wide and diverse convention. We offer a large variety of different panels happening at various times in multiple rooms at the convention center, we have our celebrity Q & A sessions, lots of exhibitors, artists, etc. And we’ve try to set it up so you’re not waiting in line the whole time. We have set times so you can find when your slot is for a photo op and then you can go walk around and check out some of the other things we have going on. There really is a lot that you get for the price of admission.
GeekToMeRadio: In terms of the star power that you seem to be attracting, the St. Louis show has an impressive roster and it’s very different from previous years’ line-ups. Is that just serendipity or careful planning?
Jerry Milani: One of the great things about these shows is that there are always new things coming out such as ‘Jessica Jones’, which was huge and now a lot of people who may not have seen Krysten Ritter before are now excited to meet her. One thing Wizard World always does is try to keep it fresh. You won’t see the same old stars at every show. As we mentioned, this is the first time that David Tennant and Matt Smith have been together at a public event. This is also the first comic con appearance ever for Charlie Cox and Elden Henson from ‘Daredevil’ so just the level of celebrity watching will be different from any show that has passed through St. Louis in the past. And you can see that the con is growing. We’ve gone from using just part of the Convention Center for our first St. Louis show in 2013 to using the dome as well in 2014 and it just keeps expanding. That’s very exciting.
GeekToMeRadio: Let’s talk about CON TV. I believe it’s celebrating its 1 year anniversary this spring. How would you describe it to someone unfamiliar with it?
Jerry Milani: CON TV is done in cooperation with a company called Cinedigm which has many different networks that they put on. Fifty percent of the content is free and it includes videos of our panels, our interviews as well as a game show that we did with Bruce Campbell called “Last Fan Standing” and a lot of other really great content. Suppose you’re on Instagram and you see a picture of an interview we did or you heard about about a really cool panel that we did, you can go to the CON TV app and check it out. It’s a way to bring comic con to everyone.
GeekToMeRadio: Of course I have to mention the Comic Con Box that Wizard World also launched about a year ago. How’d that come about?
Jerry Milani: Comic Con Box started as a result of fans and the convention goers saying “Hey! You have all of this great stuff. We’d love to get this exclusive merchandise.” Due to the relationship that we have with Marvel and other organizations, it means that we can produce some of these exclusive items that are only made for our subscribers. You might get some stuff from The Walking Dead, Star Wars, Captain America, it might be t-shirts or action figures or comics depending on the theme of the month.We’ve had great feedback from the fans and it’s a great way to celebrate the fandom.
And another way to celebrate the fandom is to check out a Wizard World Comic Con in YOUR area. Their website is www.wizardworld.com where you can search by city or celebrity. If you’ve never attended a Wizard World show, you should make it a goal to do so this year. After all, everyone deserves to experience “nerdvana.”