Fans of superheroes, horror flicks, time-traveling doctors and Jedi Knights will once again converge in California this weekend as the annual Comic Con International -- the largest convention of its kind -- returns to the San Diego Convention Center. What began as a niche event for comic book fans, artists and sci-fi enthusiasts is now a full-blown pop culture phenomenon and an opportunity for major brands and content producers to pitch their Next Big Thing.
Expect to see new footage from upcoming films and TV shows and big announcements about some of your favorite franchises and characters this weekend as every nerd with a plane ticket and a press credential furiously tweets from the massive convention floor. (I'll be following the hashtags #SDCC and #SDCC2014 for the scoop.)
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Luckily for Midwest fanboys like me, another impressive pop culture convention is coming to our neck of the woods in just a few weeks.
Wizard World Chicago returns to Rosemont's Donald E. Stephens Convention Center on Thursday, Aug. 21, for four days of fun, and the emphasis here is on interaction with artists and celebs, not big announcements. The lineup of celebrities available for autograph sessions, photo ops and panel discussions is massive. To wit:
• From "Doctor Who," the Eleventh Doctor and his beloved companion, Amy Pond -- aka Matt Smith and Karen Gillan.
• The seven principle cast members of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," including Patrick Stewart, and Capt. James T. Kirk himself, William Shatner. Oh, and the new Dr. McCoy, Karl Urban, will be there too.
• Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie, better known as The Winter Soldier and Falcon from Marvel's "Captain America" sequel.
• Fox TV stars David Boreanaz ("Bones") and Nicole Beharie ("Sleepy Hollow").
• "Walking Dead" stars Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Scott Wilson and Sarah Wayne Callies.
And so on. There will also be a legion of comic book artists and writers on hand, including the Daily Herald's own Russell Lissau, whose comics credits include "The Batman Strikes."
Though weekend passes are sold out, single-day tickets for Wizard World Chicago are still available, starting at $40.
• Sean Stangland is a Daily Herald copy editor and a tireless consumer of pop culture. He totally wore his "TRON" T-shirt to a convention last year and got Bruce Boxleitner's autograph. You can follow him on Twitter at @SeanStanglandDH.