Will there be an apocalypse? Could it be a zombie apocalypse? Where there’s a science fi ction convention, there will be zombies, not to mention zombie hunters, stormtroopers, Jedi, wizards…you name it. You’ll find literally any and every sort of character ever to inspire a fan following at New Orleans Comic Con.
Gary Breaux, Commanding Officer of the 501st Legion Bast Alpha Garrison, describes his popular ‘Dark Side’ Star Wars fan group.
“The 501st Legion is a worldwide costuming group of over 5500 active members in 46 countries specializing in movie quality ‘Bad Guy’ costumes of the Star Wars galaxy with a focus on charitable causes,” shared Breaux. “Wizard World has been very generous last 2 years to provide the Bast Alpha Garrison, the Louisiana Chapter of the 501st Legion, space to put up a fun, interactive activity called ‘Shoot-A-Trooper’. The Comic Con attendees, for a small donation, got the opportunity to shoot Nerf guns at stormtroopers, Darth Vader, and other Star Wars characters. The money raised is always donated to a local charitable cause.”
Krewe du Who is a group of over 300 enthusiastic Doctor Who fans and cos-players (costumed fans). Founder Paul M. Patecek is the creator of the group’s mascot K-9, and I had to ask him about his re-creation of the beloved robotic dog from the time-traveling BBC television series. Patecek explained that his K-9 is a fully mobile prop replica originally built almost 30 years ago.
The Gulf Coast is booming with fan groups, including Louisiana Ghostbusters, NOLA Krewe of Pirate Wenches, Mystic Krewe of Chewbacchus, Steampunk Americans, Anne Rice’s Vampire Lestat Fan Club, and Krewe of the Living Dead.
This writer runs a fan group as well, but more on that later. Fan groups (in a convention setting, are organized members of science fiction, anime, history or gaming fans sharing a love for a movie, or series, or comic, etc.) are invited by Wizard World to host a table during the huge convention to be held for a third run at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
“Fan groups and other local organizations,” according to PR Manager Jerry Milani, “bring additional excitement and festivity to Wizard World events. From entertaining kids to promoting charitable causes to just roaming the fl oor spreading cheer, the dedication they show to the movies, television shows and other pop culture phenomena the groups represent is a huge part of the Wizard World experience.”
Wizard World brought Comic Cons to New Orleans in January, followed by Toronto, Philadelphia, Chicago, Columbus, Austin, and an encore appearance in New Orleans this same year. The 2013 nationwide schedule of Wizard World cons to date includes Portland, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Austin, with others to be determined.
“The New Orleans show is in the second tier, after Philadelphia/Chicago,” stated Milani, with attendance ‘increasing’. Milani added that Wizard World anticipates an even better turnout this fall.
Big guests are already confirmed. “Stan Lee, Eliza Dushku, Michael Madsen, WWE ® Superstar CM Punk ®, Dean Cain are among the most popular,” said Milani. “The three Boondock Saints actors have drawn a lot of interest at our other shows as well.”
“New Orleans has embraced Wizard World at the level of our top shows, “stated Milani. “Our January show was a big success, and when we couldn’t secure an appropriate date for 2013, we added our Nov. 30 - Dec. 2, 2012 show. We have even announced that we’ve scheduled Feb. 7 - 9, 2014 already.”
Red Stick Rebellion Co-Founder Wayne Dupree added, “We are a Star Wars collectors group based in Louisiana and we have had a fan table at Wizard World Comic-Con since it started. Last year’s event was amazing because of the enormous turn out of guests and stars that the convention brought to New Orleans, plus we also got to participate by hosting a ‘Jedi Training Academy’ event for kids that went in tandem with Nick Gillard hosting his own lightsaber training class! Wizard World is great because it’s a huge, local convention and we get to meet loads of people who are collectors and fans just like us – it’s like a family reunion since you see many of the same people every time and look forward to being able to see them at the next con!” As I mentioned previously, this writer runs a fan group as well. We call ourselves the Cast Aways Open Theatre Troupe. Basically, we take Renaissance Festival style costumed open-air improvisational theatre and bring it into the science fi ction convention setting.
Thrones, flags, period clothing, treasure chests and statues of knights in armor make the scene, and it’s time to perform. Now, you may think ‘castles’ and ‘British accents’ and ‘royalty’ and one phrase could come to mind: “It’s good to be the king.”
I disagree. It is far better to be the QUEEN. It was in 2002 that I became Queen of the Louisiana Renaissance Festival. I reigned there as queen from 2002-2004. Then it was on to the Ocean Springs Renaissance Festival, where I was stand-in queen. Next, 2006 brought me the title of Queen Philippa of Hainault of the Acadiana Medieval Faire. Queen of countless cons and events since, it’s a tough job but somehow I’ve just gotta do it.
In between all those titles, I formed the Cast Aways Open Theatre Troupe. This was a way for many of my friends and acquaintances and I to perform in costume across the Gulf Coast and bring the royalty of the Renaissance to children of all ages from hospitals to nursing homes to conventions. Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con is the largest con where my group and I have performed, and it’s a thrill to look forward to our third year in a row as a featured fan group.
This year, the Cast Aways Open Theatre Troupe are performing in conjunction with Geek Girls With Guns. Knights will be knighted, ladies will be declared, and both the Cast Aways and Geek Girls With Guns will be on the lookout for costumed attendees (or cos-players) dressed as their favorite female gun-loving characters.
Favored ‘Geek Girls With Guns’ will be asked to compete in a contest to ultimately declare four winners to appear in a charity calendar. Cheri Cerio, Chairperson, Geek Endowment Krewe: Geek Girls With Guns Charity Calendar, said, “I love the extended family that has grown over the years in fandom. We all look out for each other.”
Fan groups of all genres tend to mesh and members cross-join other groups, and new members are always welcomed. If you love Harry Potter, or Dr. Who, or Medieval reenacting, or zombies, there’s likely a fan group for you.
Come out to Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con from Nov. 30 - Dec. 2, find kindred spirits and become a part of the fun.