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BAM! SMASH! POW! Wizard World Comic Con makes its debut in St. Louis

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 22, 2013 - Remember the Comic Book Guy from “The Simpsons?” Burly and surly and not-so-great with social encounters? Yeah, this isn’t his kind of convention.

Actually, Wizard World Comic Con has never been his kind of convention, even though that may have once been the perception, says Jerry Milani, public relations with Wizard World. “We really consider our event to be a pop culture celebration,” Milani says.

Wizard World Comic Con makes its debut in St. Louis this weekend, March 22 through the 24, at America’s Center, bringing what Milani likes to think of as a carnival of pop-culture offerings. You can meet artists, listen to panels and see lots and lots of stars.

Featured at the weekend’s event will be the creator of Spider Man, the Fantastic Four and X-Men, Stan Lee; Dean Cain, of the popular “Lois & Clark” series; Billy Dee Williams, of “Star Wars” fame; as well as actors from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer"; Lou Ferrigno, “The Incredible Hulk"; and Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy in the “Harry Potter” series.

Wizard World puts on Comic Cons in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Nashville, New Orleans, Austin and Columbus, Ohio.

St. Louis gets added to that list this year, and also new is Portland. While every city is different, Milani expects a great turnout.

Milani says there are many ways to experience the festivities. You can listen to panels with celebrities such as Henry Winkler talk about his work. You can meet the artists behind comics, dress up, shop and get autographs.

And whatever you may think you’re going for, whether it’s for the limited edition cover of “The Walking Dead,” comic, which every ticket holder will get after registering, or to see and hear from the stars, you’ll probably find a lot more there, Milani says.

“Fans who come with an idea of what it is end up enjoying a lot of other things."

Tickets cost $35 and up and kids 10 and under get in free with a paying adult. You can buy your tickets in advance and see the roster of stars and the map of the convention here.

With increasing appeal for sci-fi, comic books and films like “Spider-Man” and “Batman” bringing the characters more mainstream, this festival of pop culture in St. Louis doesn’t belong to the Comic Book Guy, Milani says, but to anyone who loves movies, TV and comics.

“Even if you’re not a ‘comic book fan,’” he says, “it’s a pop culture festival. There’s something for everyone. We have Billy Dee Williams. Who’s more pop culture than Billy Dee WIlliams?”

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