Wizard World features everything from Thor to Doctor Who to local sci-fi talent

For the second year in a row, Wizard World Comic Con, the convention for all things fantasy, science fiction and the arts, will stop in Cleveland this month as part of its 21-city tour. Attendees dress in costume, wander 120 vendor booths and attend workshops centered around the likes of “Dr. Who,” zombies and Marvel Comics movies and super heroes.
“It was such a huge success in the first year that we’re here again,” says Jerry Milani, Wizard World’s public relations manager. “Wizard World offers all dimensions of the pop culture world – sci-fi, gaming, comics and art – and puts it all together in one place."
Wizard World takes place Friday through Sunday, Feb. 26 - 28 at the Cleveland Convention Center, 300 Lakeside Ave.
Celebrity guests include actor Chris Hemsworth, or Thor, from the “Avengers;” actors Matt Smith and Karen Gillan from “Dr. Who;” and actor Robert Englund, or Freddy Krueger, from the cult classic “Nightmare on Elm Street,” among others.
In addition to national celebrities, about half of the exhibitors will be local artists. Among the group will be filmmaker Johnny Wu, owner of film and production house Media Design Imaging (MDI) in Creative House Studios in the St. Clair Superior neighborhood.
Wu, who is also co-founder of the Cleveland Asian Festival and co-producer for Cleveland One World Day, got involved with Wizard World last year after producing the Dr. Who fan film series, T.R.A.C.E. The first five films have each had more than 47,000 hits on YouTube, and Wu plans to make three to four more.
“Because of that popularity we were noticed by Wizard World last year,” Wu says. “I love science fiction and I love time travel movies, so I've been on and off watching Dr. Who. One day, while talking to my friend in the UK, he suggested I do a Dr. Who fan film. I've done one about Batman's offspring, and one about Superman. So I thought: why not?”
Wu’s booth garnered more than 300,000 visits last year. His workshop on how to make fan films was the most attended workshop outside of the celebrity workshops.
This year, Wu will again show his fan films, along with having a Dr. Who (David Tenant) lookalike, a TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) phone booth and Weeping Angels. Attendees can pose for pictures with all of these icons. He will conduct his fan film workshop again this year on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 6:30 p.m. in room 26BC.
Wu himself has a ball at the three-day event. “Wizard World is fun. You get to meet a lot of people, and knowing that we aren't there to sell something but to let the public have a good time and in return hearing them thanking us is touching and gives us warm hearts,” he says. “We also get to meet a lot of other cosplayers and such. It's a fun weekend.”
To encourage Clevelanders to come out to Wizard World, MDI is holding a raffle to win a pair of tickets for Sunday.
Why should people stop by? “Because it's Comic Con,” Wu says. “It's for all the people who want to dress up, to be comic book superheroes or villains, who are into games, and to get together to express who you are without the fear of being ridiculed. And to get to meet celebrities and have a great time.”
Tickets are $35 to $75. Wizard World runs Friday, Feb. 26 from 3-8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 27 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 28 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Up to two children under age 10 are admitted free with a paying adult. Photos and autographs cost extra.

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 20 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.