Wizard World unites world of fantasy with world of opportunity

Acacia Coronado

Legions of comic book fans and science fiction enthusiasts with colorful masks and lasers will descend upon the city of Austin on Friday for a weekend-long celebration of the world of fantasy.

This weekend, the Austin Convention Center will open its doors to magic and pop culture for the 8th annual Wizard World Comic Con. The three-day event will feature panels on science fiction and pop culture, opportunities to meet celebrities and activities for attendees.

“It brings (to Austin) the ability for fans to celebrate whatever it is they love and to know that there is going to be hundreds or even thousands of other people that love the same thing,” said Wizard World public relations manager Jerry Milani.

Milani said though the con’s title is magic-related, the event will feature a variety of genres within science fiction. He said it will be an opportunity to remember for young and old Austinites to experience science fiction, from the 1960s to the Walking Dead. 

“The purpose of the show is really to celebrate everything in the world of pop culture. If you are a superhero fan, we have Jason Mamoa (Aquaman in DC’s “Justice League”),” Milani said. “If you love science fiction, we have Charisma Carpenter from Buffy (The Vampire Slayer).”

Jonathan Rufrano, an International relations and global studies senior, said meeting the original Green Power Ranger, one of his childhood icons, with his friend at Wizard World two years ago made the experience all the more memorable.

“We met Tommy the Green Ranger from Power Rangers, who we both watched and admired growing up, since we were like two (years old),” Rufrano said. “It was like we met one of our heroes.”

Though the event will feature simple, fun activities centered on TV and movies, the event will also include discussions on the science fiction industry, such as available opportunities and how to create effective characters.

UT alumna Genese Davis said she began participating in these panels to inspire audiences to follow their writing dreams without fear. She said she overcame her fear of public speaking during her first panels, during which she described refusing to make her female hacker hero a male for a major book deal for her debut novel, The Holder’s Dominion. She was later invited to collaborate regularly as one of the few female panel hosts.

Davis said she has since been able to speak with audiences about finding their voice, giving them practical tips for breaking into the industry and stepping out of their comfort zone. She said what she likes most about working with Wizard World is the creative freedom they have given her to create more serious,
career-centered panels.

“I think a lot of times someone who has never been to comic con might not grasp how much the word comic con encompasses,” Davis said. “It is not just about comics; it encompasses authors, writers (and) creators of every genre.” 

Most of all, Rufrano said the opportunity to be a part of a community of people who enjoy learning about similar fictional subjects made the event something he one day hopes to attend again.

“My favorite part was being with my buddy and just kind of nerding out and having the shared fanboy experience and all these ‘oh my God’ moments together,” Rufrano said.