By DIANE TURNER-HURNS
Journal & Topics Reporter
Tens of thousands of people, many in bright costumes and makeup, will descend on Rosemont this week to see their favorite comic book, TV and movie heroes, meet celebrities, preview films and meet top comic and pulp fiction book artists.
Crowds of all ages will swarm, dance and prance into Wizard World Comic Con, set for Thursday, Aug. 20 through Sunday, Aug. 23 at the Donald E. Stephens (DES) Convention Center on River Road.
They’ll get a chance to meet other fans -- some in the same costumes -- and shop as more than 300 vendors are expected to sell a variety of products including vintage comics, toys, original artwork, make-up, jewelry and more. Many are local vendors.
Attendees also get a chance to attend the popular panel discussions held throughout the convention to learn a variety of things about putting together a movie, TV show, comic strip and hear performance experiences from the star’s themselves.
Comic Con, show managers say, is a celebration of the best in pop fiction, pop culture, movies, television, comics, graphic novels, toys, video gaming, sci-fi, original art, collectibles, contests and more.
“We are excited to have Comic Con here again,” DES Executive Director Christopher Stephens told the Journal & Topics this week. “It’s always great to see the smaller kids all dressed up coming to the convention with their parents. You can see they are really happy to be here and they get a chance to talk to other kids also dressed up and having fun.
“We’ve been doing this show for many years and it keeps getting bigger,” Stephens continued.
“Wizard World management likes to make sure they do the best job they can for the attendees and the participants and vendors so I believe it will be successful another successful event.”
Stephens said ticket sales, according to Wizard World officials, have been good. Officials expect even more than the 100,000 that attended the event last year.
“It’s always a challenge, but we are prepared. As the manager of the facility we want to make sure that everyone at the event has a good experience. That’s the key,” Stephens said.
Security, provided by Rosemont and Wizard World, will be tight again this year.
“We want to make sure everyone has a safe time,” Stephens said. “As in the past we will be checking all weapons brought to the show, toy or not.”
As for the attendees in costume, plan to see a lot of Thors, Batmans, Batgirls, Dr. Whos, Captain Americas, Star Wars creatures, Antmans and more. Last year, Disney “Frozen” characters were a big hit and a few years ago a costumed former Gov. Rod Blagojevich made his way through the crowds to sign autographs.
This year, Wizard World will also feature a much talked about side event called Bruce Campbell’s Horror Film Festival at Muvico Theater in Rosemont’s MB Financial Park. It takes place the same time as the Comic Con and those attendees do not have to pay extra to attend the film screenings, including the cult movie “Bubba Ho-Tep” and “Tales of Halloween.”
As for Comic Con, the day-to-day activities are chock full of events including question and answer (Q&A) sessions with Jeremy Renner (“Avengers: Age of Ultron”, “Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation”, 2:15 p.m. Sunday); Burt Reynolds (“Smokey and the Bandit”, 2:15 p.m. Saturday), Stephen Amell (“Arrow”, noon, Saturday); Tobin Bell (“Saw”, “Saw II”, 6 p.m. Friday); Caroll Spinney (voice actor/puppeteer on “Sesame Street”, 3 p.m. Friday); Bruce Campbell (“The Evil Dead”, “Burn Notice”, TBD); and Michael Rooker (“The Walking Dead”, “Guardians of the Galaxy”, 12:30 p.m. Sunday).
Jodie Sweetin from ‘90s TV show “Full House” will appear at 6 p.m. Saturday.
“Doctor Who” actors Billie Piper and Arthur Darvill will appear at 11:30 a.m. Sunday and “Gotham’s” Ben McKenzie and Sean Pertwee will appear at 1:15 p.m. Sunday.
“World Of Warcraft” composer Jason Hayes and his video game tribute band Critical Hit will perform original arrangements from the most celebrated video games at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Educational comic-themed programs include storytelling with Michael Golden Saturday at 4 p.m. and learning how to write comics with “Green Arrow’s” Mike Grell, “Billy Dogma’s” Dean Haspiel and “Archie’s” Barbara Slate, “Batman Adventures’” Ty Templeton and “Spider-Man’s” Danny Fingeroth Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
The adult costume contest is Saturday at 7 p.m. while the kids costume contest is Sunday at 3:30 p.m.