NEW ORLEANS — Navigating through a clan of Mandalorian bounty hunters, Catwoman pushing a stroller and an intimidating pair of 7-foot-tall Predators, the voice on the intercom announced “The Green Power Ranger is in the house — he is here and available for photos and autographs.” In addition, the green Power Ranger would be giving a martial arts demonstration.
In its third year in New Orleans, the Wizard World Comic Con offers something for anyone who has ever desired to enter a fantasy world of super heroes, vampires, villains and alternate universes or faraway galaxies.
Whether you want to have your photograph taken with women wrestling champions, commission a drawing of yourself as a zombie, or have your body painted entirely purple, a gathering of celebrities, artists, and vendors filled a hall of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on Saturday with their displays and offerings.
Throughout the three-day event, the schedule also included a long list of 45-minute programs in the upstairs rooms, from “Grimm Fairy Tails: What your mother didn’t tell you,” to “The end of the world is only the beginning: preparing for the zombie apocalypse.”
At “Designing the next Star Trek television show,” TV producers debated with the audience about whether to use the traditional television show universe or the one created in director J.J. Abram’s recent film adaptations.
Down the hall, actress Eliza Dushku of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fame shared her new love for beignets and joked with a flustered “girl fan” about the male television stars at the top of their “list.”
Downstairs, amid rows of artists displaying their work, Slidell resident Joe Badon said after working “crappy jobs my whole life,” he made the decision to do something different.
After devoting all his free time to building a portfolio and then working sporadically on freelance projects, he said now he is able to make a full-time living with his illustrations.
“I’ll draw anything if they want to pay me for it,” Badon said.
“It’s a poor man’s movie making,” Badon said, of the appeal of the comic book genre. “You can tell a visual story without spending a lot of money. It’s somewhere in between prose and film.”
Sarah Goodwin attended with her fellow members of the Florida clan of the “Mandalorian Mercs,” a national costume club devoted to the Star Wars bounty hunters. When they appear at various events to raise money for charity, Goodwin said she loves seeing kids’ eyes light up, but that “of course we do scare some of them.”
The appeal of Boba Fett and his kind, Goodwin speculated, is that he is enigmatic, but also that he is “morally gray — you can’t put him in a good box or a bad box — you don’t know which way he is going to go.”
Cory Glaberson, a comic book and movie poster vendor from Illinois, said “my job is to validate peoples’ obsessions — as long as it’s not terrible.”
Glaberson said the comic book scene is a “wonderful culture,” and that he enjoys listening to stories about what and why his customers collect.
“Everybody here is flying their freak flag,” he said. “And there’s nothing wrong with that.”
This year, Stan Lee, the artist who helped to create some of the best-known comic book characters of all time, shook hands, posed for photos, made rare comic books priceless with his signature and answered questions from his biggest fans.
The standing-room-only crowd welcomed Lee by singing “Happy Birthday.” Lee will turn 90 at the end of the month. The question-and-answer session drew many laughs, Lee’s candor and bravado delighting the audience.
Lee talked about drawing instructional books for soldiers in World War II that advised the men to get checked at clinics for venereal diseases, his numerous movie cameos, and Disney’s purchase of Marvel Entertainment.
On meeting his wife, Lee said that when she first opened the door, “There was the girl I’ve been drawing all my life.”
Mississippi resident Seth Rogers said Lee’s participation was a big factor in drawing him to his first convention.
“I’ve always wanted to meet him,” Rogers said. For $80, Rogers had his photo taken with Lee, who he said complimented him on his costume and curled blond pigtails.
Inspired by the character Arnold J. Rimmer in the science-fiction comedy show “Red Dwarf,” Rogers said it wasn’t easy finding a red and white-checked gingham dress, and matching bonnet, in his size, so he had it custom made.
As a child, Rogers said, Stan Lee had a tremendous influence in nearly every superhero he idolized and comic book he collected. The Incredible Hulk was Roger’s favorite.
“Stan Lee pretty much created my childhood,” he said.