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Dion Long, Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, and Friend at Wizard World Reno*Editors Note: Dion had some computer issues which led to a delay in getting his review of the con posted in what I consider a timely manner* ~ Jeff

The Wizard World Comic Con tour had its last stop of the year at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center (November 17th-19th). As for their second year, the convention had a lot to live up to after a successful kickoff and had the Northern Nevada area showing up with high expectations. Let’s get into the nitty gritty and I’ll share my thoughts.

Celebrities/Special Guests: With the likes of William Shatner and Norman Reedus not in the lineup like last year, I was really curious to see if the lack of “star power: would affect the convention. Adam West/Burt Ward (The original Batman and Robin) and Kevin Smith/Jason Mewes (Jay and Silent Bob) headlined as the special guests which drew their own fans. As usual many offered autographs, professional photo ops, or $20 selfies with your phone at their booths.

Wizard World Reno AttendeesHere’s a list of what Wizard World considered this year’s top special guest guests:

  • Kevin Smith/Jason Mewes (Jay and Silent Bob; Clerks; Dogma)
  • Adam West/Burt Ward (Batman – Original Series)
  • Adrian Paul (Highlander)
  • Mena Suvari (American Pie; American Beauty)
  • Tovah Feldshuh (The Walking Dead; Law and Order)
  • Barry Bostwick (The Rocky Horror Picture Show)
  • Erik Estrada (CHiPs)

Artist Alley: This year Wizard World brought back some comic industry greats in Neal Adams and Aurthur Sudam, a new breed of artists just breaking out into the biz as well as some local talents. One of the big disappointments was the cancellation of James O’Barr (The Crow) due to scheduling conflicts. However, there was still a great lineup of artists on hand selling prints or taking commissions for custom art work.

Here are some more artists that made it to the show:

  • Neal Adams (Batman; Green Lantern; X-Men; Superman; Avengers)
  • Mike Zeck (Spiderman; Punisher; Captain America)
  • John Beatty (Marvel Super Heroes; Thanos Quest; Batman)
  • Phil Ortiz (Animator – The Simpsons; The Masters of the Universe)
  • Aurthur Suydam (Marvel Zombies; Army of Darkness)
  • Jim Shooter (Former Editor in Chief – Marvel and Valiant Comics) 

Cosplay: Once again the locals came out in style, with some impressive custom costumes on display. With the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens coming out, it was nice to see a few Kylo Ren’s and new Stormtroopers out and about. The 501st Legion (Guinness Book of World Record holder for the ‘World’s largest Star Wars Costuming Group) made an appearance as well, where they continue to promote interest in Star Wars as well as contribute to fundraisers and charity work through their ‘Legions’ all over the country.

Wizard World Reno Mystery BoxesBooths:  A lot of great vendors were on hand selling tons of pop-culture goodies. One of the interesting twists this year were the mystery boxes, where an attendee could purchase a box for $40 with unknown contents. The biggest draw to buyers were if you chose the right box, you can win one of the limited edition items they had on display and some were valued two to three times the amount you paid for the box.

Panels: Wizard World had a decent selection of panels if you wanted to get away from the convention floor for a little bit. On Friday night I got a chance to attend the ‘Jay and Silent Bob Gets Old’ Smodcast where Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes amused the crowd with jokes and their usual antics. Kevin Smith also explained that he created the smodcast to save Jason Mewes life from his previous drug use, where as the conventions and being interactive with his fans keeps him on the straight and narrow. Kevin Smith also provided his view on the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens as well as his love for the new Flash series.

I also got chance to attend the ‘Body Image and Diversity In Comics, Cosplay, and Pop Culture with Chunky Girl Comics’ panel where panelists discussed body image, diversity and body shaming in the world of cosplay and comics. Encouraging attendees and the world that no matter what color, shape, or size, you acceptable the way you are!

Here were a few of the programming highlights:

  • Jay and Silent Bob Get Old (Smodcast) – Kevin Smith/Jason Mewes
  • There can be only one! And Sword Fighting Class – Adrian Paul
  • The Barry Bostwick Panel Show – Barry Bostwick
  • Inside the BatCave with Adam West & Burt Ward

Wizard World Reno Harley QuinnIn my honest opinion, Wizard World took a HUGE step backward with the show in Reno this year. It’s clearly apparent the Wizard World team relies heavily on the special guest stars to draw people in and definitely not the artists or special events. I’m sorry but when you have stars like Nicole Eggert (Baywatch) and Will Freidle (Boy Meets World) sitting at their booths looking bummed no one will come up to them to buy their $40 autograph, something is wrong! This year’s guests (outside of those I’ve noted above) were certainly C-List at best. Event-wise, the community was highly anticipating the famous crawl, which would’ve been the second annual Reno Comic Con crawl, but the event was cancelled due to licensing issues and was the first crawl EVER to be cancelled at any event. In addition, there were open seats available to the The Jay and Silent Bob smodcast which normally sells out in every city!

Value-wise, if you bought a three day or VIP pass, you definitely didn’t get what you paid for. Friday and Sunday were very dull and Saturday was the only day worth generating any excitement about. When you compare or contrast this and last year’s conventions, I now view Wizard World more of a touring circus for its “star” attractions rather than a true ‘comic con’. I feel bad for many of the artists or special guests that came into town and didn’t get the attention they truly deserve.  Wizard World is now pushing out their next Reno show to 2017 instead of next year, and I think they surely noticed they didn’t get the draw they anticipated. Hopefully they’ll see they see the errors of their ways and improve prior to their 2017 but only time will tell…

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Currently residing in "The Biggest Little City in the World" - Reno, Nevada - Dion began his passion for gaming from an early age when 8-bit gaming was 'top of the line' with such platforms as Atari 2600 and Commodore 64. He has a wide range of tastes when it comes to comic books, where he grew up a huge fan of many Marvel comics heroes, as well as DC, but mainly Batman.

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