Wizard World Philly and about 40,000 fans hit the city this weekend, local publisher Zenescope plays a prominent role in it and both the event and the company are a testament to this town's legendary fighting spirit.
After last year's convention season, Wizard cited poor attendance and other problems when it canceled this year's shows in Los Angeles and Texas.
Philly and Chicago made the cut.
Jimmy Palmiotti ("Jonah Hex") and Amanda Conner ("Power Girl") are among those happy about that fact. They view the City of Brotherly Love as special and plan on attending all three days.
"The people and the area around the con [convention] are just great," Palmiotti said. "There's also great food, friendly people and a spectacular night life. I would go even if the con wasn't there."
"Texas is too big and in L.A. you need to drive 20 minutes to get a cup of coffee," "Incredible Hercules" writer Fred Van Lente said.
Whatever the reasons, the refocused show is bringing in many high-profile comic creators such as guest of honor Garth Ennis ("The Boys") as well as celebrities like actor Ray Park ("G.I. Joe") and actor Luciano Carro ("Battlestar Galactica") and actress Kristanna Loken ("Terminator 3" and "Painkiller Jane").
The promoters have also brought back some fan favorites.
"I'm so excited to say that I will once again be attending the Philly show!" said uberbabe Dazza Del Rio, who was absent last year.
The Philly area is also the home base of Zenescope, which is why Ralph Tedesco, vice president and editor in chief, has an affinity for his local Wizard World.
"It's also where we debuted," at the 2005 show, he said. Using sexy models to stand out from other small publishers at cons, the company has attracted fans with edgy, offbeat offerings. Zenescope has continued to do nothing but grow and is now the No. 8 comic publisher in the country, which is impressive in an industry where there are not only heavyweights like Marvel and DC to do battle with, but scores of smaller publishers.
Though Tedesco said the Fort Washington-based publisher is glad to come back where it all started, he does see ways the show can improve.
"I just wish there was more promotional stuff happening for this show," he said. "Locally, there is just not enough awareness about the show and it makes a difference."
He also wishes Wizard would attract higher-profile stars to appeal to the general public and draw them in.
However, he is looking forward to mingling with the "hometown" fans.
"Not that our fans from other cities aren't great, but our hometown fans have been with us the longest, it seems."
One of the things Tedesco is most looking forward to is the always zany Zenescope party, which will be held tomorrow night at Zee Bar on Front and Spring Garden streets at 8 p.m. It will feature a Fairy Tale costume contest.
"All girls are encouraged to dress up and enter to win the contest and go to www.zenescope.
com for details," Tedesco said.
Besides comic publishers, Artists' Alley and dealers, the con will also have panels with announcements of interest to comic fans and booths for those interested in video games, anime, gaming and more. It is currently the biggest comic convention on the East Coast.
"Our booth at Wizard World is No. 508," Tedesco said. "So stop on by!" *
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Wizard World Philadelphia 2009 will be held June 19-21 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1101 Arch St. General admission is $30 a day or $50 for the weekend, with VIP packages available.