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Preview: Wizard World Comic Con 

A three-day weekend of William Shatner, Bruce Campbell, Marvel heroes and people in costume

click to enlarge Many Wizard World Comic Con fans attend the event in costume.

Photo courtesy of Wizard World Comic Con

Many Wizard World Comic Con fans attend the event in costume.

With a seemingly infinite number of Marvel properties heading to theaters, a Ghostbusters reboot in the works, and, of course, the third trilogy in the Star Wars saga expected to make billions of dollars, "nerd" culture is the pop cultural force driving entertainment, no longer banished to parents' basements or cheap hotel ballrooms. Wizard World Comic Con's three-day pop culture bender finds room for it all under one very big roof.

  After folding Wizard magazine in 2011, Wizard World focused exclusively on its convention circuit, expanding to more than a dozen cities with its traveling roadshow for geek ephemera and meet-and-greets with comic book artists and film stars. Wizard World returns to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center for its sixth New Orleans edition Jan. 8-10.

  Returning for a second time to Wizard World New Orleans is Star Trek demigod William Shatner, who last appeared at the 2012 event. Three of the Avengers — Chris Evans (Captain America), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) and New Orleans native Anthony Mackie (Falcon) — join a roster of Marvel universe heroes at the convention, from Haley Atwell (Agent Peggy Carter of Agent Carter) to directors Joe and Anthony Russo, who helmed Captain America entries and the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War.

  Cult film hero Bruce Campbell of the Evil Dead series also joins the roster, as well as Doctor Who's Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman and Karen Gillan, and The Walking Dead's Joe Bernthal, Norman Reedus, Chandler Riggs, Scott Wilson and Steven Yeun — and also The Rocky Horror Picture Show's Barry Bostwick.

  Wizard World's fluorescent-lighted show floor is pop culture sensory overload, a booth-by-booth and table-by-table circus of science fiction and fantasy, including Star Wars and steampunk costuming groups and countless boxes of plastic-wrapped comic books. Cult wares are on display in a sort of open-air black market of rare, unreleased movie studio undesirables (from Harry Nilsson's Son of Dracula to The Star Wars Holiday Special) and 40-year-old action figures preserved in Ziploc bags.

  And then there are the inanimate celebrities — full-size replicas of the Jurassic Park Jeep and Luke Skywalker's X-34 Landspeeder from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, the DeLorean time machine from the Back to the Future series, and Ecto-1, the noisy 1959 Cadillac Fleetwood from Ghostbusters.

  Wizard World also showcases Louisiana-based artists and comic creators, including Rob Guillory, the Eisner Award-winning co-creator of Chew, as well as artist Joe Badon, Marvel artist Roland Paris, and fantasy comic series Sankofa's Eymbrace creators Erica R. Williams and Antoine Mitchell, among many others.

  Costumes are encouraged — expect to find plenty of homages to new and upcoming film heroes and villains Deadpool, Kylo Ren, Harley Quinn and The Joker, in their element on the show floor or posing onstage for the annual costume competition.

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