The weekend that Wizard World Sacramento rolls around seems to truly mark the start of the summer season in the region. When the doors of the Sacramento Convention Center opened at about 4PM on Friday afternoon, the temperature was already around 100 degrees under a relentless bright sun.
Official programming didn’t start until 5PM, which explained the sparse early crowd. There were no cosplayers standing around the convention center entrance when I arrived, but they slowly trickled in as the evening rolled on. I saw at least two Game of Thrones cosplayers and at least two Harley Quinns before I went home.
By the time I picked up my pass and entered the exhibitor hall, actor Thomas Ian Nicholas was already in full swing into his acoustic solo performance. Surprisingly, Nicholas has been making music longer than he was starring in American Pie movies. He covered Foo Fighters’ “Everlong” and performed his band’s song “My Generation” from American Reunion.
During the set, Nicholas mentioned it took 13 years before producers finally agreed to put one of his songs on a Pie soundtrack.
“Never give up,” encouraged Nicholas, “even if it takes 13 years.”
The evening’s highlight was a special ceremony on the entertainment stage as Wizard World inducted Trina Robbins, the first female artist to draw Wonder Woman, into its Hall of Legends. Robbins was joined on stage by a few Wonder Woman cosplayers.
The most obvious update to this year’s Wizard World was the hall layout. No longer were artists and autographs relegated to the back of the hall. The autograph area was in one general area to the east and closer to the entrance. Artist tables were sprinkled throughout the hall and mixed in with vendors.
The result: You could no longer avoid eye contact with artists and other creators.
I think this was a positive change that forced more mingling and left fewer dead zones, so to speak. But on a slow first day like Friday evening, I saw a lot of checking of the time by more than a few people.
Since Fridays are such slow days, why even include them? What’s the point if so few people, even full weekend ticket holders, bother to show up? That’s why so many guests turn up only on Saturdays and/or Sundays. It’s almost a waste of everybody’s time.
My opinion would be to abolish Friday’s programming entirely and push those events to Saturday and Sunday (the latter of which has a shorter schedule anyway), or don’t even charge admission on Friday and give people who may be only mildly interested in the convention a free taste. The second option might even get a few newcomers to come back and/or encourage more Friday evening programming.
As it stood, there weren’t many options for attendees who weren’t ready to buy anything just yet.
Victor Dandridge and Tony B. Kim discussed diversity in pop culture, which was largely focused on Marvel and DC Comics movies and television series. Dandridge and Kim briefly mentioned the recent statements Elizabeth Banks made about Steven Spielberg’s mostly male-centered movies. The two concluded that Banks’ criticism was fair, but poorly stated.
Dandridge and Kim also critiqued Wonder Woman, Netflix’s Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, and the controversy around the casting choices behind Iron Fist and the recent Fantastic Four reboot with Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm. More could have been said on a much deeper level, as the discussion devolved into critiques of the overall quality of the respective stories. Though I will agree on some level that if the show and movie suck, what’s the point of diversity if no one watches them?
Genese Davis (The Holder’s Dominion) moderated a discussion on the future of video games with Chris Hughes (FGL), Aaron Carter (Videogame BANG!), and Eric Kieron Davis (Star Citizen). They opined about 4k video quality, free and paid downloadable content or DLC, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) gaming, and the potential for more cross-platform multiplayer options.
And other than a Kim-moderated discussion of the Marvel and DC universes, there weren’t many programming options for those not interested in meet-ups or trivia games. Unfortunately, I was called out of town and had to miss the rest of the weekend’s event, but it looked as if many attendees enjoyed themselves. There’s always next year; hopefully, the temperature won’t be as hot.