Wizard World makes magic for the last time in 2021

Wed. October 20, 2021 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

The Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois hosted Wizard World's comic convention for the last time in 2021. For 23 years this has been the home to the producers of this popular, large-scale annual event.

Now the company is rebranding with a new name of FAN EXPO and a kickoff in New Orleans in 2022. This makes sense as times have changed and fans have evolved.

Once upon a time, comic book fans were bullied and mistreated for a variety of reasons. These days these same fans are celebrated thanks to superhero culture being on the rise. These conventions allow the average person to be a hero for a day and sometimes meet an artist or performer that they admire at these events.

This traveling expo has something for everyone to enjoy. There is video gaming and board gaming, even an upcoming game based on The Boys television show on Amazon. There was a family day on Sunday, October 17 with plenty of activities to entertain the young ones in the group. Comic conventions have grown into a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community and have programming now to include that part of the population.

Costume contests have encouraged the cosplay crowd to come out and compete for large sums of money. The categories could expand more in the future with more inclusivity over time.

A stage as patrons entered the space with everything from dance acts and hip hop performers to karaoke singers just added to the fun in 2021. Vendors had booth after booth of merchandise and novelties for sale and Wizard World ticketholders just gobbled it all up throughout three days, along with comfort food at the concession stand.

Artists were on hand to draw commissioned work for attendees and chat about their previous projects. Celebrities were able to meet with their followers even during high-risk pandemic times. Some used glass barriers to separate themselves and masks were required to be worn indoors in the convention center for protection.

Star Trek icon William Shatner even returned from space to meet Trekkies and loyal fanatics in person at 90 years old at Wizard World. Actor Dean Cain had fun playing with Star Wars characters and the always entertaining Michael Rooker joked with his supporters throughout his signing opportunities. After a long day, everyone needed to just enjoy being around each other and not take themselves too seriously.

Historical drama Outlander had a big presence this year and people lined up to have complete experiences with multiple characters from the show. There were many photo ops for ticket holders to check out in the massive area such as a Ghostbusters pop-up and life-size action figures boxes were all set to pose in.

The longtime producers of Wizard World put together an impressive show for three days that had pop culture enthusiasts ready for more. Stay tuned, True Believers, for what is next from this team next year!