By Troy Akridge
A year had passed since Nashville's Music City Center came alive with it's first ever Wizard World Nashville Comic Con. The show returned in 2014 with comic artists, celebrities and all the fanfare associated with a Wizard convention the weekend of September 26-28. Once again, fans of all genres could be seen piling in to engage in a cornucopia of comic and pop culture under one roof right in the heart of the Music City.
Being in it's second year, it seemed like the Wizard World staff learned the terrain from the previous year. This year's convention seemed to have much better flow than in 2013. In the middle aisles, a multitude of vendors vying for the hard earned cash of congoers were set up. There was no shortage of t-shirts, collectibles and comics to be purchased. The con presents a great opportunity for local vendors and stores to get their names out there to collectors like Dork Side Toys from Murfreesboro, TN.
A little further back were the artist, creator and writer booths. Fans were able to meet and get autographs from the people responsible for bringing their favorite characters to life. Roland Boschi, artist on such properties as Wolverine, Punisher and Ghost Rider, was on hand doing commissions. He took time between sketches to give autographs and even did quick sketches in books. Phil Ortiz, animator on The Simpsons, was drawing fans in the style of The Simpsons at his table. Fans of He-Man and She-Ra had the opportunity to discuss storyboards and get autographed script copies from writer Robert Lamb.
In the back of the house, were the celebrity autograph tables. Fans of Battlestar Galactica had the opportunity to meet Jamie Bamber and Michael Trucco. The stars of Star Trek had a great presence with William Shatner and six Star Trek: the Next Generation crew members. Michael Rooker, Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy, showed the crowd a bit of southern hospitality. Rooker could be seen Sunday posing for pictures with kids and hugging ladies as he made his way through the convention floor.
Gaming also had a section at the convention. Various gaming events were held during the weekend and free play board gaming was going on at all times. Steve Jackson Games had a booth where they were demoing their new Mars Attacks: the Dice Game. There were also opportunities for video gamers to test their skills against each other head to head.
Programming and panels at the con were as diverse as the splintered fanbases that attend. Wrestling fans had the opportunity to attend panels featuring WWE Superstar Kane and Divas: the Bella Twins. Fans of the series Charmed got to see Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs, and Brian Krause together again. Star Trek programming throughout the weekend included a series of "On the Enterprise" duo panels that included two stars of Star Trek: The Next Generation at a time as well as an event with William Shatner.
Overall, it was apparent that the Wizard World Nashville Comic Con had grown from last year with a wider array of guests from various fandoms. Observing the crowd, you could see that hardcore fans and families alike are coming to this show. This provides an excellent opportunity for more exposure to comics and media that some may never see outside of this type of event. Hopefully the Nashville Comic Con will continue to grow and more people will step inside, broaden their horizons, and dive into fictional worlds they may not have ever even known were there.