Wizard World 2016: The “special guest” rundown

The big-box con returns with David Tennant, Joey Fatone, and the van from Dumb & Dumber.
 

"Can too, double stamped it, no erasies!"

"Can too, double stamped it, no erasies!"

Last year’s Wizard World Madison Comic Con (“Where Pop Culture Comes To Life!”) was relatively over the top with its broad lineup of “Special Guest” star power. Gathering Bruce Campbell, William Shatner, Edward James Olmos, Billy Dee Williams, Ernie Hudson, and Eliza Dushku under one roof was an effective way for the event to make its presence known in a new market. Even the more tangentially related celebs, like George Wendt and Jay Mewes, had that special something that added some value to the cost of a ticket.

This year's’ Wizard World, returning April 8 through 10 at the Alliant Energy Center, is less broad in its booking of guests but doubles down on the Doctor Who contingent. I might not know my Eye of Harmony from my Hand of Omega, but I do know that David Tennant (The 10th Doctor) and Alex Kingston (The 10th Doctor’s “companion”, River Song) are going to result in a lot of “My Other Car Is A Tardis” bumper stickers in the Alliant Energy Center parking lot on the Saturday and Sunday when they’ll be available for photos and autographs (I’ll be the weirdo in line for Alex Kingston clutching a DVD of The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover).

Speaking of photos, a shot of you with David Tennant alone costs $110, one with Alex Kingston alone costs $65, but one with both of them together costs $175? You’re not even gonna offer some savings on a package deal, Wizard World? Fans of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. get off comparably easy, though: Dual photo ops with actors Brett Dalton and Elizabeth Henstridge, who play the characters Grant Ward and Jemma Simmons, respectively, will save you $25 over splitting solo photos between the two.

In an unexpected move, noted beer-lover George Wendt won’t be returning, but this year still has its fair share of oddball pop culture veterans, including Barry Bostwick (Rocky HorrorSpin CitySpy Hard), WWE® Diva Paige™ (that ® and ™ were copy / pasted right off the Wizard World Madison site), and *NSYNC’s Joey Fatone (“the fat one”). If you want to get even more niche, voice actors Jeremy Shada (Finn from Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time) and Charles Martinet (Mario, Luigi, Wario, and Waluigi... the quadruple crown!), will be on hand, but NOT taking photos for whatever reason.

Sure, it’s fun to oversimplify comic conventions to the handful of famous folks who show up to sign stuff and pose for pics, but there is of course a whole lot more going on over the duration of weekend than just opportunities to fawn over nerdy celebs. Attendees will have access to dozens of awesome panel discussions, including locally focused fare like “Wisconsin Creators, Wisconsin Comics Character” (Sat. 11:30 – 12:15PM), “Everything & The Kitchen Sink: Wisconsin’s Underground Comix Scene” (Sat. 5:30 – 6:15PM), and the “Supernatural Fan Forum” (Sun. 2:00 - 2:45PM), the latter promising to unearth the connections between Wisconsin and the hit CW Television Network show. On top of all this you get the vast expanse of the convention floor, all the cosplayers (“Official Wizard World Cosplay Guests” and amateurs alike), artist alley, spaces for the tabletop and video gamers to hang out, and, last but not least, those slick wheels all shiny and chrome! That’s right, you can check out K.I.T.T., a replica 1966 Batmobile, an actual “screen used” 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner from Furious 7 (MTV Movie Award nominee, Ensemble Cast), and, most importantly, The “Shaggin' Wagon'” from Dumb & Dumber. The official site makes no mention of how much it’s gonna cost to take a photo with the famous Mutt Cutts mobile, but I’m ashamed at how much I’m hypothetically willing to pay.

Comic cons are uniquely silly places, with their obscene photo and autograph prices, but even streamlined big-box style cookie-cutter ones like Wizard World offer a fun playground for geeks amd nerds (let’s be honest here, maybe even a couple of dweebs and spazzes are gonna slip through too) looking to get out of the house for a weekend. Be safe out there everyone, and remember: Wait until Sunday to buy stuff from the retailers since it’s the easiest day to haggle.