Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wizard World Louisville 2015

I must confess that it's oh so nice to plan for a con in your home town. You know where to park, where to eat, and, if you've lived there as long as I've lived in Louisville, know the probable layout of the con itself. Wizard World Louisville 2015 was to be the 4th con I've attended in Louisville and my 9th con of all-time, since I started living the #conlife in 2013.

I spent the nights leading up to the con doing some final research for my cosplays, which consisted of watching a few episodes of Doctor Who, including: The Impossible Astronaut, The Pandorica Opens, and The Big Bang. I also made sure to be caught up on Arrow, as most of the cast was on the bill and I didn't want to have any SPOILERS in the panels.

With some help from the husband, I got my first cosplay assembled and, as tradition now dictates, we took some photos. Good direction on getting the side-by-side spot on, hubs!

River Song in The Impossible Astronaut
Upon arriving to the con, I found some local friends and hung out with them until it was time to line up for my John Barrowman autograph. We were surprised at how small the vendor hall was as compared to the last time WW was in Louisville. It barely took an hour to wander through everything, and, to my disappointment, there was not a TARDIS to be found anywhere - so much for photo ops! This con was obviously geared much more toward the Arrow crowd than the Doctor Who crowd, which is fine, because Arrow is one of the best shows on TV right now and I. LOVE. IT.

I'm always happy to get some of the guests seen on Friday if possible, as Saturdays are always the busiest and therefore the longest lines. I was in the very beginning of John's line, which was OK, since early on they're usually full of energy and will spend a lot of time with you, not being pushed to get through the line and on to their next thing. John had just come in from Palm Springs and was his usual cheeky, hilarious, gracious self. If you've not met JB, get thee to a con and do so. He is FABULOUS in every sense of the word.

Probably one of the best things to happen of this entire con and, oh, of EVER, happened next. The volunteer/handler had given me a little post-it-note to write my name on so that John could personalize my autograph. I stuck it on the front of my book, which is a hardcover book from a Torchwood: Miracle Day promotional box from Starz. The cover is kind of fuzzy and soft, so, somewhere in between me getting the note and getting to John, it got lost. I slid my book over to him and noticed the little yellow note was gone and I started to apologize and introduce myself. He looked up at me as this was happening and said, "Oh, that's OK, Lana, like Lana Turner...don't you remember? We talked about this at Dragon Con." I mean, seriously?! What had just happened? John f-ing Barrowman just remembered my name. I was floored, to say the least. At that moment, a con photographer from the side got our attention and took a photo. I'm sure my mouth is agape in astonishment. I've yet to see the picture, so if you come across it, tag me! He went on to explain how of course he remembered me and that I always make a fantastic River. I still can't believe it all. Anyway, he opened the book and then asked all flirty, "Oh, I didn't even ask where you want it." My likewise flirty reply was that River is all back to front. And then we had a good hearty laugh about him giving it to me in the front or some such. This is just how John rolls. I love him.

Torchwood: Miracle Day signed by John Barrowman
John also had his new book with him so I had to snag one of these. He said I got the very first copy - score! I totally didn't ask or expect him to sign it too but he took it from me and did just that. More innuendos followed and the laughs continued. I'll say it again - I LOVE THIS MAN.

The Food of Love written and signed by John Barrowman
After the autograph session, I took some more time to check out the artist alley and just to see what I could see. I'm always on the lookout for other Doctor Who cosplayers to take photos with, and found this Vashta Nerada lurking about: 

Hey, who turned out the lights?
I also ran across a knight representing the Frazier museum. He was very clanky. He could stand an upgrade. 
The Knight Life
I stopped by the only photo backdrop I could find (I later saw the official WW one, but this was free, too).

Anyone who has ever gotten to get a picture with John Barrowman will tell you how much fun it is. He does all kinds of crazy things and essentially has no limit to his fan interactions. Since I had done the "Spoilers!" pose with Gareth David-Lloyd and Eve Myles also in cosplay, and I now have a comic book signed by the three of them, I thought I would complete my collection and do the same little number with him. How cute is he?! Me, not so much for the cute here, but the memories of this day will be cherished as some favorites of all my con experiences thus far.

John Barrowman and me
Right after my photo, I went to a panel on screen-accurate cosplaying with Jedimanda. She's a local expert and I've learned a lot about cosplay from her. I picked up some tips and tricks of the trade, and look forward to seeing Jedimanda again soon!

The last thing I did for the day was make a stop by the caricacture booth. I'm so glad I did! This lovely thing was created in about 20 minutes or so and I adore it! 

Caricature of Always River

My thief cosplay is always the plan for days I will be meeting non-Doctor Who guests. It's non-descript enough so that I don't have to explain why I'm standing next to Stan Lee dressed as The 11th Doctor. It's also the most comfortable cosplay I have and the only acceptable excuse for wearing leggings as pants.

River Song as she's caught stealing from The Royal Gallery
(The Pandorica Opens)
Since I had my original/official exploding TARDIS poster signed by Tony Curran at Dragon Con, 
I had this made up to use as a prop:

Custom-made cosplay prop, inscribed with "Always River"
I didn't take advantage of the VIP early entry since there were no panels until the afternoon and only a few people I wanted to catch before then. My timing usually works out to my great advantage, and did not fail me on this day. First up for a #selfie was David Ramsey, who plays John Diggle on Arrow. I really enjoy his character on the show but I must say he is even more attractive in real life. I may have swooned a bit. He's very personable and loved talking about what's coming up for Diggle (sans spoilers, of course). He did mention straight away that the mask is getting upgraded. I'm guessing he knew he was going to be flooded with all sorts of comments and complaints about that one. I love how snugly we are here. So, yeah, swoon.

David Ramsey and me
Just down the way from David was Paul Blackthorne, who plays Captain Lance on Arrow. Paul gets a few extra points in my book for the work he does for animals. He's currently running a Represent Campaign in support of Air Shepherd Initiative. It doesn't hurt that he has a British accent, either. His handler couldn't figure out the camera on my phone at first so this is one of two or three hugs. He joked that he would be OK to stand there and just hug me all day. Me too, Paul, me too.

Paul Blackthorne and me
Probably the thing I was looking forward to the most for this con was seeing Stephen Amell again. He goes right up there in my fave celebs of all time. Mind-blowingly handsome, such a gentleman, and, oh yeah, a superhero. I will never pass up the chance to cozy up to this guy. This is one of my all-time favorite photo ops that I've ever gotten. I <3 you, Stephen, <3 you to death.

Stephen Amell and me
Going by my experience at Dragon Con, I anticipated a great deal of craziness for the Arrow panel. So I went to check out the line situation about an hour before the start time. The powers that be insisted there was no line (even though lines were formed on both sides of the doors), so I just "hung around." As you can see from the following, my strategy paid off. I was front and center!

#emptystage Arrow panel
As we were let in almost a full hour before the panel, a couple of amazing things happened. First, a fantastic girl took the seat next to me and we promptly realized that there are no coincidences, especially at a con. We talked all things fandom, David Tennant, mutual dislikes for certain characters, and how we are both getting advanced degrees on the very stuff we were at this con to enjoy. Chrisha, we are indeed somehow separated by circumstance but brought together by the #conlife. 

The #conlife can be crazy, and the other amazing thing that happened just before the Arrow panel was that the girl on the other side of Chrisha had begun to chat me up about River Song, because, you know, that tends to happen to me. I bemoaned the fact that, although Alex Kingston was now on the Wizard World circuit, that I would have to hope for an appearance in St. Louis, as I would not be able to go to Portland in February. She asked if I was going to Chicago for her. Um, what? Wait. Hold the phone AND shut the front door. Why had I not heard about this and when was it happening? If there's a record for how fast someone has pulled out their phone, looked up Chicago TARDIS, and bought tickets, I broke it. Did I even bother to look when it was or how much I was spending? That's a resounding "no!" Before you could say, "Hello, Sweetie," I had in my possession a membership to Chicago TARDIS as well as a ticket to a special reception with the woman herself: none other than Alex freaking Kingston. So here I was literally in the middle of one con, making plans for another con, 5 hours from home, in less than 3 weeks - and over Thanksgiving weekend - and at a time when I still held tickets for a concert in Nashville for those same dates. Did any of that matter? Let's go back to "no" on that too. The bottom line is that, fellow Whovians and con-goers, #AlwaysRiver meets #RiverSong 11/27/15. That's a date for the record books. Stay tuned.

Arrow panel (Paul Blackthorne, John Barrowman, Stephen Amell, Willa Holland, David Ramsey, & Katie Cassidy)
Although I could barely contain myself after all of that, I still had this panel coming up, and it did not disappoint. Of course, since I had been unable to film anything at Dragon Con, I was totally unprepared and had not brought my camera or any equipment this time around. That's the way things work, it seems. I'm either front row with no camera or back of the room with bags full of useless stuff. I captured a little bit, though, including this recreation of a scene from the show:

Toward the end of the panel, the moderator, Tony B Kim, had each of the guests sign a card from a deck of DC playing cards and see how far they could toss them into the audience. Again, right place, right time. I snagged this and John acted like he wanted me to give it back because he thought I had gotten one of the other ones. I confirmed I had not and we had a little back-and-forth over it, ending with a sly little wink. This here's a treasure:

Superman playing card signed by John Barrowman
Next up was John's solo panel, so I sat tight. I must say that I was hoping for a wardrobe change into something a little more vivacious, but John's humor and on-stage presence make up for all of that. If you can leave one of his panels without your face aching from laughter, then there is something certifiably wrong with you. Here are just a couple shots for which I'll leave the situations up to your imaginations. Just know that however crazy you may think he's being, it was probably more so in person. Can I just say again - LOVE HIM. 

John Barrowman, ladies and gentlemen. 
 And here's a couple of videos to stand as testament both the beauty and the comedy that is JB:

My Saturday was essentially a day of panels, as I stayed put through Bruce Campbell's panel. Stephen Amell was up right after him, and I didn't want to sacrifice my seat any more than was necessary. I did have to move over a stitch and so was no longer front and center for Stephen, but I have no complaints. For having so many Arrow guests in tow, I'm still astounded at how small this con was and how laid-back the con-goers were. Although there was no Arrow VIP offered (just John Barrowman and Stephen Amell), there were a considerable amount of empty seats in the reserved area up front for Stephen. I had hoped he would call for everyone to scrunch in like John did. Either way, no one seemed disgruntled, and I don't think anyone was turned away from getting in to at least see the panel.

Stephen was so well-received by his fans here, and the city as a whole. I don't think this was a key to the city, exactly, but it was recognition from the mayor for all of the charitable work that Stephen has done and continues to do. I'd list all his campaigns, but I'm sure I'd leave something out. Just know that Stephen Amell is not only a great actor and a beautiful creature, but has one of the best hearts out there and is using his celebrity for good things every day of his life.

I had to call the day by the end of Stephen's panel. I was hungry and honestly, just ready to be home. I'd done all I'd come to do, and, at least at this point, planned on returning for the 3rd and final day on Sunday. My friends and I once again headed across the street to The Old Spaghetti Factory (a con tradition), and proceeded to meet our weekly carb requirements in one sitting. A good day was had by all, so I went home and took this side-by-side of my cosplay before tuning in to the weekly episode of Doctor Who.

River Song in The Pandorica Opens
Sunday morning came in like a hangover, which was strange, considering I had only had 1 cocktail the night before. I really wish I would have toughed it out and hit the town. The entire Arrow cast was found (after a GPS tweet from Stephen) at the local dueling piano bar, karaoking the night away. Regrets? I have a few, and this is one. At least my girl, Chrisha, had the time of her life (check out her blog for all the details).

My overall review is that, once again, Wizard World has proven that they can pull off a virtually stress-free enjoyable con and can get top-notch guests to please the masses. It's just as well that it was smaller than normal, for me at least. I didn't spend as much money but still had a great time. I'm sad that they won't be back until 2017, but hopefully I'll see them somewhere in 2016...


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