Writing for Pop-Break.com for 6 years has awarded me so many good things. This weekend, I was able to use my time in journalism to apply for a press pass for Wizard World Philadelphia 2016, a convention that boasted a list of actors and actresses that would make your head spin. Thanks to the powers that be that ran the event, I was able to spend two days in Philadelphia doing one of my favorite thing-being a proud geek. Only this time, I got to do it representing a website I have been honored to write for for several years.
Many thanks must go to Pop-Break’s Bill Bodkin, Alfred Mannarino, and Brent Johnson for their continued support of my writing and advocating of my “in the field” reporting. Without them, I never would’ve mustered up the courage to try for a press pass in the first place.
So with that being said, I began my journey to Philadelphia on Friday, and as soon as as I got the Pennsylvania Convention Center, I was greeted by wonderful staff who slapped that press pass on my wrist for the weekend. I felt so powerful as I walked through the front entrance, armed with my borrowed camera (thank you, Ryan DeMarco, another Pop-Break employee), ready to take photos of all the great cosplay to behold. There was the usual Marty McFlys, Star Wars characters, Deadpools, Batmen, Jokers, Harley Quinns, Captain Americas, etc. All of them looked better than the next, but I was overwhelmed (and very happy) to see so many Spider-Mans everywhere. With his first big appearance in the MCU that had everyone applauding for the websligner’s homecoming (pun intended), it made sense to see so many. The details on some them were insane, and the variety of wallcrawlers was also apparent, meaning the different style of costume Peter (or Miles) wore. It was incredible, and I couldn’t get enough of that.
Working my way through the crowds of cosplayers and normal dressed people alike, I found myself at the Back to the Future booth, which could’ve been a financial death trap. My love for the time travel trilogy has been noted on this very site, and knowing that a lot of the weekend would be dedicated to such events surrounding BTTF had me really excited.
Wading through all the materials at the booth, I actually got to meet Stephen Clark, the man behind BTTF.com, which is a fantastic website if you haven’t checked it out (hint: you should). When asked to take a picture with me, he almost surprised. Modesty goes a long way, and I really appreciated his sincerity in the matter.
Not moving too far from the Back to the Future goodies, my feet took me to the line of Bob Gale, the man who penned all the Back to the Future movies. Realizing I didn’t have anything for him to sign, I bolted back to the BTTF booth, grabbed a comic, and headed back to Gale’s line. It had doubled at this point, but I had no issues there, as meeting this guy was a priority. Gale was extremely charming, chatty (but in a good way), and talking with the guy who wrote my favorite trilogy was a damn good memory. I would have the ability to hear Gale speak twice more over the weekend during panels, which was amazing. More on that later.
Once I got my signature from Gale, I headed to what is another wallet destroyer of any conventions-artist’s alley. There was so much great artwork to look at that I know I didn’t get to all of it. There were two gentleman specifically that I actually got to talk to, and want to highlight here. One of them is Scott Derby, who created the design for my very first “Shaun of the Dead” t-shirt. He uses his talents to make almost like a logo you would see on a shield or coat of arms, but does it with very popular properties. Those include Breaking Bad, Firefly/Serenity, Ghostbusters, and many, many more. You can find him on Facebook or purchase designs on etsy.
The other artists I want to talk about is Nazar Loun (www.naztalgic.com), an incredibly talented individual who takes images from comic books, magazines, and layers them in 3-D style with little collectibles or items, all placed in boxes, some of them which light up. I was stunned by all his designs and couldn’t help stopping and staring at all of his hard work. He’s done ones for Back to the Future, Mario Bros., and Iron Man, as well as other. It’s insane. Please check his work out, you won’t regret it.
As the clock ticked away on my first day at the convention, I headed to two back to back Back to the Future panels. The first one, which featured Bob Gale and Michael Klastorin (who wrote Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History, was about the early beginnings of Back to the Future, or, in other words, how the film came to be. They talked about the progression of making a time machine out of a DeLorean, and how an idea for the big scene in the film was too expensive. Hearing Bob Gale tell all these tales (despite the fact that I’ve heard him state the same things in novels and special features on blu-rays, but I didn’t care) was wonderful, and sadly the 45 minutes allotted for the panel went way too fast.
After that, I got to see clips and images from Outatime: Saving the DeLorean Time Machine, an upcoming documentary about a group of people who worked tirelessly to restore the original car from the 1985 film. Moderated by Steve Concotelli and Joe Walser, the two took us through the history of the car, it’s downfall, and how it is being brought back to life. As a person who wants the DeLorean in real life, this panel was a treat and I’m glad I caught it.
My first stop of the day was to meet two celebrities who have been highly prominent in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so the morning quickly went by. Number one on the list was Hayley Atwell, who I’ve been crushing on ever since her appearance in Captain America: The First Avenger as Agent Peggy Carter. The line moved quickly, so there wasn’t a lot of time for dialogue, but damn, she looks even more gorgeous in person.
-daydreams for a few minutes-
Moving on, next up was meeting Anthony Mackie, who the world knows now as the Falcon, who I’ve considered to be an absolute scene stealer in the second and third Captain America movies. He’s also fantastic in The Night Before and 8 Mile, along with all the other film roles he’s had. When I got to pose with him, he was extremely friendly and I told him how I love his appearances in the MCU. He was absolutely grateful, which made me appreciate the dude even more.
Most of Saturday’s moments ran into each other. Once again, great cosplay, more artwork to see, more things to buy. However, the prize memory of the day was the Back to the Future panel, which featured Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, and Michael J. Fox. Fox doesn’t attend many conventions, and there was a possibility to meet him as well but financially I just couldn’t swing the price. In any case, sitting in on this panel, being in the same room as the three of them (and Bob Gale, once again) and hearing stories about films I hold near and dear to me was undoubtedly my favorite part of the weekend.
The rest of the day sped by, as I spent my few remaining hours spending it with friends, trying not to buy anything else. Then, in the blink of an eye, much like any convention, the weekend was over.
Wizard World 2016 ranks up there with some of the best conventions I’ve ever been to. To be fair, each one I’ve attended has its own memories and takeaways, but this one, with the Back to the Future backbone made it something entirely special. That, and meeting some amazing people in the meantime is something I’m so grateful for, and I would like to thank WW Philadelphia and Pop-Break.com for making it all a reality. It was an incredible two days that I won’t soon forget.
Until next year, Wizard World Philly….
I’ll see you in the future!
Logan J. Fowler is a senior writer and video game editor on Pop-Break.com. He contributes his thoughts every week for Trailer Tuesday and ABC’s The Goldbergs.” Logan’s “kid at heart” nature has led to his discussion about pop culture that many geeks love to talk about, including superheroes, Super Mario Bros., Pixar, and Muppets, among other things. In addition, one of his first pieces for the site, “Top Ten Comic Book Movies,” was picked as a “Freshly Pressed” piece by WordPress and remains one of the site’s most well-read articles. Many of Logan’s friends have said that he moonlights as Spider-Man but this is so not true. Wait, are those police sirens I’m hearing?! Gotta go! -thwipp-