Non-Nerd's Guide to Wizard World Comic Con

What kinds of people go to these things? On the surface, Wizard World and other such conventions seem like they're geared toward hardcore nerds. Once upon a time, it used to be like that. Not anymore, though. In addition to the D&D dungeon masters and cosplayers, you'll be among movie buffs, art collectors and little kids who want to meet their favorite superheroes. (Kids ten and under get in free.)

We won't lie; you WILL be surrounded by a lot of people wearing spandex or T-shirts that make math jokes. But plenty of "normal" people will be there, too.

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image via
Are you brave enough?

What the heck is "cosplay?" Many fans are interested in bringing their favorite characters -- well-known or self-conceived -- to life as accurately as possible. Cosplayers carefully craft intricate costumes and showcase them at major conventions. Their versions of Princess Leia, Ash or Egon often are as elaborate as what you've seen on the big screen or in books, and some of these artists have gone on to have careers as professional costumers for movies, television and theater. Wizard World has a couple of cosplay contests and opportunities planned for the St. Louis con and posts about them on Facebook.

Not everyone has the time or inclination to go into such detail on costumes, though. Some folks throw on a spandex body suit and some boots and call it a day (ahem, us), while others simply reuse old Halloween costumes. The level of costume mastery really runs the gamut, and all of it is accepted and appreciated.

Um, do I have to dress up? Not at all! You could walk into the convention wearing farmer overalls and no one would care. Cosplay adds to the con experience for some, but it's not necessary. If you felt like getting into the spirit without a full costume, you could always pick up a simple Superman T-shirt from Target or your local comic-book shop. There also are dinosaur hats at Dollar Tree for, um, a dollar. Because who doesn't like dinosaurs?

Women in spandex? Maybe this isn't so bad after all. Easy, dude. Though people of both sexes may be wearing revealing costumes, that doesn't mean you can ogle them, say suggestive things or touch them. If you'd like to take a photo, ask them politely. If you'd like to legitimately inspect the costume material, ask them politely. People wear costumes because they want to be seen, of course, plus it's a great way to meet like-minded folks from around the world. Just don't be an asshole here anymore than you are an asshole anywhere. Come to think of it, just don't be an asshole.

So cameras are allowed? Check Wizard World's and America's Center's policies for specifics, but generally yes. As much fun as this whole thing is (and it is fun, Mr. Non-Nerd), it's also a marketing opportunity for the celebrities and booth renters. Taking and sharing photos obviously helps with that. Just remember to be courteous.

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provided by Wizard World

What if I get hungry? Just like at any convention, there are plenty food booths at Wizard World. If pizza and pretzels aren't your style, though, check out some of downtown's restaurants. Snarf's sandwiches, Pi Pizzeria and Robust Wine Bar are all near the convention center, and you could walk to even more restaurants and grocery stores within a few blocks.

And booze? Please tell me there's booze. Honestly, we have no idea. You usually can get beer and such at the concession stands in the convention center, but we're not psychics here. If you're craving liquid courage to tolerate all this geek stuff, you can always walk to the nearby bars such as Robust, the Over/Under Bar or Tigin Irish Pub.

I don't like any of this stuff. Help? Then just fill a backpack with a sudoku book, a copy of Field & Stream and some beef jerky, and park yourself on a convention-center bench. Seriously, if you're dragged to this thing and you can't make the best of it by talking to folks associated with the biggest entertainment entities, picking up free crap or just people watching, we don't know what to tell you.

We'll be attending Wizard World Comic Con all weekend long and will have a full report Monday morning. In the meantime, follow our reporter's observations on Twitter at @ambabka.

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