This year I was fortunate enough to attend the Philadelphia Wizard World (Comic Con) with a press pass graciously given to me by Steve Morrison (from the Preston & Steve Show at WMMR in Philly). I was also fortunate to have a great friend that let me live my nerd dream of meeting and getting a picture with David Tennant (of the Doctor Who fame).
Generally, after conventions I am exhausted. Glad for the experience, but also glad it’s over. This time was different. I’ve been to Wizard World a couple of times, but this year they’ve changed something and that’s a good thing. Perhaps it was the natural high of getting to see Billie Piper and David Tennant on a panel, or being responsible for getting friends ON a panel, but I’m not the only one who had this observation. Friends of mine that had also attended the convention (and are not convention rookies) agreed, Wizard World was a blast, and more importantly, wasn’t stressful or crammed. Sure, it was crowded, but what comic convention isn’t?
I was only able to go on Saturday and Sunday, the busiest days of any convention, and the main show room was actually breathable and I wasn’t bumping into people left and right like I normally do. Even kid’s day, which at NYCC is a nightmare, made me forget it was even kid’s day after a while.
Saturday morning I had arrived in Philly just as the doors to the Convention Center were opening. Although I was press, the lines for general admission were moving fairly quickly and surprisingly there wasn’t a line out the door. The Doctor Who panel was at 10:30am, and the room it was held in (Terrace Ball Room) seemed like miles away, but I finally made it, and got a decent seat by my friend Janice. I should have gotten there much earlier to get a seat front and center, but I was happy to be in the same room as my favorite Doctor and his blonde companion. For me, Doctor Who was my gateway drug into the world of fandoms and the world of nerdom. This was so much more than just some random panel to me, this was something I didn’t think would actually happen to me considering David and Billie don’t really do the convention thing, at least not in the US. I had tickets to the popular Doctor Who convention held in California (Gallifrey One), but lost my job for a good chunk of last year, so I was unable afford the trip to the West Coast. Not that David and Billie had attended that one, but I hadn’t been to a Doctor Who convention… I still haven’t. Which is surprising to most people considering my almost decade long obsession.
Billie and David were everything I hope they’d be on a panel: kind, funny, and genuinely happy to be in a room full of dedicated fans. They’re like royalty in the UK, but I don’t think they had realized the impact they have in the US until this panel. The room was only half full, but that’s only because this wasn’t a panel you can get in with a regular ticket. Fans had to pay upwards of $500 to get the ‘Doctor Who VIP Package’. That was my only problem with this convention. I’m not sure if it was David/Billie, Wizard World, or a combination of both, but that price is a bit ridiculous.
The panel was only an hour long, and time was precious, so the first fan question was asked almost immediately. I really admire the fans that get up to the microphone and are able to ask a question. Even reading off of a piece of paper. That takes some serious guts, especially in a room of hundreds of people, and David and Billie. The first girl that got up to the microphone squeed as soon as David and Billie said, “hello” with smiles on their faces. She adorably covered her face and nearly started crying. It was precious, and I think she conveyed what we all were feeling. One of the Wizard World staff had to read her letter for her to David and Billie, and at the end of the letter she put, “I apologize for the state I am in right now.”…it’s always good to know yourself and that got a laugh out of the audience, along with David and Billie.
Another fan while asking a question used a very unique adjective. Crapton (Crap ton…aka a lot). Most Americans, or at least Philadelphians, have heard the word thrown around before, but to Billie and especially David, this was the most interesting word they’ve ever heard. So much so that he felt the need to sneak it into his vocabulary while answering other questions throughout the panel. I’m glad you went home with a new word, David.
Many great, weird, and funny questions were asked. One that stands out to me was if they were able to take anything home with them from the TARDIS (the set of Doctor Who). While David was thinking, Billie immediately piped up, “Oh I took loads of things…” which got Billie a crapton of laughs and a shocked David Tennant face. As Billie was cracking up, she admitted to stealing a Slitheen’s ring (one of the aliens from the first season in the reboot of Doctor Who). To which David replied, “Wait, the character’s ring, or the actress’ ring!? She’s probably still looking for it 10 years later!” Then after a few more minutes of giggles, David added, “I’ve never fingered a Slitheen’s ring!” which got louder laughs from the (adult) audience members. Although said innocently, I don’t think David realized how it translated to Americans. However Billie did, and added, “David, you can’t say that!!!”
The hour long panel felt like only minutes had passed, and although the moderator kept trying to end the panel (they needed the room immediately after for another panel), David and Billie begged to let them have a few more questions asked by some adorably cosplaying children that were waiting in line. The final question was asked by a little boy dressed up as the 11th Doctor (fez included). His question was to David Tennant, and it was if David was able to choose his own sonic screwdriver (the design of it). David sadly, and angrily (in a joking way) said that he didn’t, but Matt got a brand new one, and he was very jealous because his was a hand-me-down. At that moment, the little boy pulled out Matt’s screwdriver, and pulled out David’s screwdriver, holding them up side-by-side with a grin on his face. It was the perfect ending to a perfect panel.
When the panel was over, I briefly left the convention to have lunch with my mom for Mother’s Day, who moved a lunch reservation around so that I could go to the Doctor Who panel… isn’t she great!? I owe her big for that. A couple of hours later I had returned to Wizard World and immediately ran to the Terrace Ball Room once again, this time to catch Stephen Amell’s panel. I had seen his panel at NYCC, and as much as I’m a fan, every seat in the (very, VERY) large room was filled, and there were also many people standing. Because of the size, it was hard to hear both the questions as Stephen (the speakers were not at full capacity, unfortunately), plus, I didn’t feel like standing for an hour. So, I made my way down to the main show room for the first time this year.
The main room was set up the same as I had remembered from previous years. However, this year there was a company called Wild Bill’s Soda that had a handful of booths set up throughout the main room. They were selling steins that ranged from $20-$30, depending on the type of stein you wanted. Although that may seem a little pricey for a cup, the deal was that once you bought the stein, they would stamp your hand, and you could refill it as many times as you wanted throughout the day, choosing from about 5-7 different flavors of root beer, free of charge. It was a brilliant idea, considering any refreshment purchased from the convention center itself would likely cost you nearly $10 for just a soda. Virtually free soda, and a pretty cool souvenir to take home with you…can’t beat that!
I’m actually surprised I was able to get any sleep Saturday night, because Sunday was the big day for me. It was the day I would meet David Tennant. I suppose it hadn’t really hit me yet because I was pretty calm. I remember the day I was going to meet Misha Collins at the Supernatural con, and I had to have nearly an entire bottle of wine just to calm my nerves. I got my Wawa coffee and made my way over to the convention center to meet up with my friend Janice, who had purchased the David Tennant VIP Package, and VERY generously allowed me to get in the photo op with her (you are allowed two people per picture).
Again, I was still pretty calm. That was until we were about 20 feet from the room where we would meet and take a picture with David Tennant, and Janice had started to freak out… which made me freak out and that’s when it really hit me. I’m about to meet The Doctor. My Doctor.
I had expected the photo op to be lightning fast, as they all are. And it was. However, this photo op wasn’t just a blur. Every celebrity that I had gotten a photo op with has been kind and polite, but David Tennant was extraordinary. He made every fan feel like he had been waiting for them. When Janice and I nervously walked over to him, he very excitedly said, “hello!!!!” with a smile that went on for miles. I had started shaking a little bit as the picture was being taken, and as we were walking out of the photo op area David turned to us and said, “It was very nice meeting you!! Thank you!!” again with that amazing smile and bright eyes. Even if he was faking it, he did a very good job at it, because his energy was contagious and he genuinely seemed happy to be taking pictures with all of his fans. He had event bent down for me & Janice because we are short! What a sweetheart.
All in all, Philly Wizard World (or comic con) was definitely the most memorable and fun comic convention I have attended. Not only because of my Doctor Who experience (all though that did help), but because of how it wasn’t stressful, crazy, or disorganized. Even as soon as we had walked out from our photo op with David Tennant, our print was in our hands not even 30 seconds later. I cannot wait to go back next year and hopefully experience more panels and photo ops!