Pros and Cons of Wizard World Austin 2015

I am what most people would consider a nerd. I enjoy anime, comic books, super heroes, dressing up, and going to comic cons. I have been attending conventions for the last three years and have loved every bit of it. This year was my third time attending Wizard World Austin, my previous experiences at conventions had set my expectations pretty darn high for this one. Some of my expectations were met, and even exceeded, but others were just … not … by a longshot.

Blog post and photos by Taylor Boswell

Wizard World holds conventions throughout the U.S. and caters to a wide variety of people, such as your run-of-the-mill comic book nerds, celebrity junkies and anime lovers alike. Some people would say that it is a “pop culture convention,” rather than a comic con, but once you step through the doors you can see the emphasis on comics and superheroes over everything else. Wizard World Austin 2015 was held on Oct. 30-31 at the Austin Convention Center, and I was happily able to attend as press and enjoy all that Wizard World had to offer me.

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Lucas Till at his Q&A panel

Celebrity Q&A with “X-Men’s” Lucas Till

Lucas Till is a young 25 years of age, but his filmography would lead you to believe otherwise. Not only has he acted in the blockbuster “X-Men: First Class,” but he also had roles in “Walk The Line,” “Battle: Los Angeles,” and “Hannah Montanna: The Movie,” to which he jokingly states he’s “trying to forget [he] was a part of.” He has also produced some small films, stuff he said we will probably never hear of or see.

Till loves acting and producing and is excited for his new movie, “X-Men: Apocalypse,” to drop. He will be reprising his role as Havok, and can’t wait for fans of the comics to see what the directors and producers have done with the story. When asked about how he feels with people being angry about him not being an original X-Men, or that the movies don’t follow the comic book storyline verbatim, he stated, “I think it’s good that they don’t follow the comics perfectly, because you read the comics, and then you go to the movies and you know what’s going to happen. This way you don’t know what is going to happen and you get a good movie.”

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Chris Sarandon and Ken Page, the voice actors from “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” at their Q&A panel

Celebrity Q&A with Chris Sarandon and Ken Page

If these names don’t ring a bell with you, that’s quite alright, because maybe you know them by the iconic characters they voice act for: Jack Skellington and Oogie Boogie. Yes, Chris Sarandon and Ken Page are the voices behind some of the most beloved characters in the Disney film “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

When asked if they thought the film was going to garner such a cult following after being somewhat of a “flop” when it was first released, both said no. Although, Sarandon went on to say that he remembers the time when he first brought home the black and white timestamped version of the movie. He recalls sitting down to watch it, and soon after he noticed the heads of kids standing around him completely transfixed by what was on the screen. He went on to say, “I knew that this was something special.”

Looks like you were right Sarandon. You were definitely right.

Celebrity Q&A with Kristen Bauer and Rutina Wesley

Just a couple of the best and strongest female actresses on primetime television graced us with their presence at Wizard World Austin and talked about their shows, experiences and what it’s like to be a woman in the industry.

Both admitted to things being harder for women as they begin to age, and joked that it’s only easy if you’re Meryl Streep. Both believe that TV shows need strong female characters and enjoy being able to play roles where they are allowed to portray such women. Rutina Wesley even stated, “There’s a lot of female-driven shows on TV right now, and it’s really cool.”

We here at Shuffle agree with you, Ms. Wesley and hope to see more women like you and Ms. Bauer across television and film opening doors for women of all ages, races, and creeds.

Celebrity Q&A with “Harry Potter’s” Jason Isaacs

Harry Potter’s” Jason Isaacs, AKA Lucius Malfoy, isn’t as scary as he pretends to be in the films. Isaacs revealed one aspect of roles that influences whether he decides to accept them or not. He explained that he doesn’t want to play characters that he too deeply identifies with because he doesn’t want to use acting as a way to release his aggressions. Behind Malfoy’s long white-haired, mean exterior in “Harry Potter,” is just a guy who loves to act and put a smile on people’s faces.

He also has his own views and interpretations of Harry Potter and the whole franchise. When asked about a fanmade theory of Neville Longbottom being the real hero, and Harry Potter just being the chosen one he replies with, “I think Draco is the true hero.” He complements this with the facts: Draco is in a world where everyone is telling him to be evil and work for Voldemort. He has no real reason to act heroic or save the day, but despite everything being held against him he still ends up fighting for what is right and just, while Harry Potter from the beginning was destined to be good, to be the hero and to save the day. This was not the case for Draco, but he still managed to do what was right, Isaacs discussed.

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Voice actors Charles Martinet and Mike McFarland at their Q&A panel

Celebrity Q&A with Charles Martinet and Mike McFarland

You may or may not know this, but Charles Martinet is the voice behind some of the world’s all-time favorite video game characters. I’m talking Mario, Luigi, Wario, etc. Yes, the voice behind some rather large parts of your childhood graced the stage at Wizard World Austin along with Mike McFarland, who has voice acted in such hits like “Dragon Ball Z,” “Attack On Titan,” and “Fullmetal Alchemist.”

Both have resumes that span over hundreds of animes, cartoons and videogames that they have lent their voices to. Despite having been in the industry for so many years and acquiring so much experience, they admit that it is still a time consuming line of work that takes a lot of effort, practice and patience. But they wouldn’t have it any other way. Charles Martinet loves his job and Mario so much that he admits to listening to music from the video games or even just doing the voice to cheer him up when he is having a bad day. He urged us all to “Find a job that you love, so you can wake up like I do everyday, happy.” To this, the whole room burst into applause and cheers, and some people started to cry (namely me).

Various other things

Aside from the amazing panels, the Con also had a wide variety of plushies, comic books and cosplay to see while walking around the convention floor. The artwork I see at Wizard World amazes me every year and I managed to pick up three prints for five dollars each! I had previously bought prints from the same vendor before and was ecstatic to see them again because they have such a wide variety of prints to choose from. I ultimately went with prints from “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood,” “Borderlands 2,” and a beautiful one of Zero Samus. The talent and craftsmanship that these people have is just intoxicating. It’s hard to not just scream, “TAKE MY MONEY, I WANT ONE OF EACH. PLEASE. THANK YOU.” Also, it gets you into the artistic spirit because you wish you were as good as they were.

The same thing goes for cosplay. It’s just wonderful to see how talented and devoted people are to these costumes. It not only shows a deep appreciation for the arts, but also an appreciation for a work of art created by another human being. A cosplay tells everyone that this character or show or movie meant so much to me that I decided to put all of this time, effort, and money into a magical tribute to it. It’s truly a beautiful thing and creates an atmosphere that harbors friendships and connections.

Although I did have fun at this Con, I have a few criticisms about this year’s Wizard World Austin.

  1. First of all, the convention was about half the size of last year’s. There were about five vendors actually selling comics and the rest were basically selling the same thing: FUNKO Pop Figures, New 52 trades and nerdy t- shirts. There weren’t a lot of new things to ooh and ahh over, so it made walking around difficult because I easily got bored.
  2. Secondly, the convention was filled with booths that had absolutely nothing to do with the convention. No, seriously. I’m talking there were about 10 booths that were about sweepstakes giveaways (SPIN THE WHEEL AND GET FREE THIS OR THAT!!), Lyft, random organizations, and even more sweepstakes giveaways. I felt bombarded by the amount of people asking me to fill out this form or that form. It made for an annoying atmosphere and I had to actively try and avoid these people by making large circles around them.
  3. Also, just the fact that the convention was only two days made for a bad feeling straight from the get-go. You went in feeling more pressed for time, which took away from the fun experience that cons usually give people.

In the end, I had a lot of fun at Wizard World this year and will most likely go again next year. The pros and cons kind of balanced each other out, but I will be watching more closely in the next coming year to make an educated decision about going to Wizard World for the whole weekend or maybe just for a day. I am thankful that I got the chance to see some of these amazing actors, actresses, and voice actors and wish I could live through those panels again because a feeling of elation just coursed throughout my body the entire time. Wizard World, you were good (could have been better) but I still thoroughly enjoyed you.

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