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Wizard World lands in Cleveland with Rocky Horror, costumes and stranger things









Thousands of pop culture fans will descend upon the Cleveland Convention Center next week to attend the notorious Wizard World Comic Con’s 15-stop tour.

Running Friday, March 17 through Sunday, March 19, this year marks the third consecutive year that Wizard World has come to Cleveland. Each year, fans attend the weekend-long event to show off their costumes, meet celebrities, tour more than 100 vendors and exhibitors and attend workshops centered around topics such as cosplay, zombies, the Simpsons and super heroes.
 
“Everyone wants to be themselves,” says Wizard World PR manager Jerry Milani of the characters attendees become. “Wizard World is the place to come out and be themselves.”
 
Highlights of this year’s Wizard World include guest appearances by Anthony Mackie of Avengers, Captain America; Jennifer Carpenter from the cast of Showtime’s Critically-acclaimed serial murder series Dexter; Millie Bobby Brown of the Netflix original series Stranger Things; and Loren Lester and Kevin Conroy of Batman: The Animated Series. Locals will enjoy saying hello to Ted Sikora, creator of Apama – The Undiscovered Animal and Cleveland's resident superhero.
 
KISS fans will appreciate a guest appearance by the band’s front man Gene Simmons, who will be on hand for photographs and autographs before performing at the Agora on Saturday, March 18. “It’s an opportunity to meet him and also hear him on the concert side,” says Milani.
 
The concert will be followed by a Wizard World After Party, also at the Agora.
 
Saturday night screenings of cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a popular addition to the lineup from last year. This year, Rock Horror star Barry Bostwick will be in Cleveland and local shadow cast group Simply His Servants will be acting out the movie in tandem with the screening.
 
"It's a new, kind of different format for us,” says Milani of the screening and shadow cast.
 
Perennial favorite Nichelle Nichols of Star Trek fame will be in Cleveland all weekend. “She’s science fiction royalty,” proclaims Milani of the 84-year-old actress. “She’s really something else. She’s just a must-meet for so many people.”
 
Between 100 and 150 exhibitors will sell unique and hard-to-find items, says Milani, while replicas of famous cars from movies and television shows will also be displayed. Popular vehicles include the Batmobile, the Sanford and Son salvage truck and the Ghost Busters Ecto-1.
 
Guest from the comic strip and cartoon world include Simpsons illustrator Phil Ortiz, who is known to draw Wizard World attendees as Simpsons characters; Muppet Babies creator Guy Gilchrist; and Ren and Stimpy illustrator Bob Camp.
 
Saturday night is capped off with a costume contest, judged by professional cosplayers.
 
"There's a little bit of everything," says Milani. "We have everything in the world that's pop culture at our shows."
 
Wizard World Comic Con Cleveland runs Friday from 5 to 10 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets start at $35 for general admission, while three-day passes are $75. VIP packages and tickets to specific events cost more. Admission to Rocky Horror is $15.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 18 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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