Today I went to the Walker Stalker Convention at the Meadowlands Expo Center in NJ.
My expectations were a little mixed when I first heard about this convention. I couldn't understand how a convention could work based solely off autograph signings. Especially with the new convention standards (referring specifically to NYCC) that have the guests pushed so far back you can't see them over the waves of people, or have them secluded behind these black curtains where you can't even get a look at them without a ticket.
Thankfully that was not the case with Walker Stalker Con. The lines were in a zig zag form so they didn't go back 100 feet and allowed people attending to get a view of each celebrity guest. They allowed you (for most guests) to snap a picture from a distance as long as you didn't hold up the flow of traffic. The female guests did not allow these kinds of photos except for Sarah Wayne Collins (Lori).
Chad Coleman(Tyreese) seemed cool too. He was hugging women and talking a lot with people.
Norman Reedus(Daryl) is the man when it comes to The Walking Dead and he knows it. His area must have been three times the size as everyone else's. After we left, me and my fiancé overheard a couple who had a ticket to get his autograph. They were around number 800 and he was currently signing around 600. So they went out for a drink to kill some time. That's pretty insane. And he does conventions all the time. I'm surprised his arm doesn't fall off. I had heard in the past that he wasn't a very openly friendly guy with fans. This was back during his Boondock Saints autograph signings. I don't think he has that luxury any more. He has to be extremely outgoing to folks to keep up their love for him and he does just that. Every once in a while he would be throwing stuff into the crowd, candy or something.
This also leads into how a few guys have their schtick at their signings. Like you see Norman Reedus looking like Bob Dylan. Chad Coleman was wearing a suit and had his hat on. Manu Bennett(Arrow, Spartacus) had this slick pair of aviators on that he wore the whole time. Michael Rooker(Merle) had his bandana and dark glasses on. It's just that cool factor they have to have. Everyone was smiling and having a good time. For a convention like this, it's good to see that the expectation was met.
Every pivitol character from The Walking Dead TV show, past and present, was in attendance with the exception of Andrew Lincoln(Rick), Danai Gurira(Michonne), Melissa McBride(Carol), and Jeffrey DeMunn(Dale).
Everyone was smiling and seemed to be very polite. We waited to see Emily Kinney(Beth) return to her booth. She walked right past my fiancé. They move everyone in so fast the crowds don't even have a chance to acknowledge that they've arrived.
While waiting for Steven Yeun(Glenn) to return to his booth, we were standing near pretty much the entrance to the floor for the guests. While standing right there Lauren Cohen(Maggie) walked right past us. She seemed incredibly nervous with all the people standing right there but she smiled and waved to a few people. Lawrence Gillard(Bob) walked in that way as well. He was very outgoing, waving and saying hi to people and getting them engaged. Everyone was pretty much nervous to just say hi or anything to them fearing of how they would react. Melissa Hutchison(Clementine from The Walking Dead video game) walked past us and was very friendly. A few of the guys from Comic Book Men walked past us too.
Unfortunately, with tickets being $65 a pop, spending another $50-$100 for a picture is a little too rich for my blood. It was $50 for a selfie with Emily Kinney. Which is a cool idea but still a little steep.
Thankfully, there were still a bunch of vendors in attendance to check out what they had.
That leads me to another point. I had no idea what to do once I got there. I knew from checking the website and following Walker Stalker Con on Facebook that you could purchase tickets online. But that looked to be VIP tickets and any tickets I would want to get in advance. If I was purchasing tickets online, why were there still signs up for pricing for everyone's autograph? Could I just walk up to them and get their autograph if I wanted to? Did I need a ticket? I'm sure I could have asked someone but I didn't have any interest in getting an autograph anyway. There were TONS of volunteers as well.
Also, unlike other conventions where panels are held in separate halls and only available for a few guests, there is a panel stage right in the middle of the entire convention. This was a great thing to add to the convention as well. It looked like there were only about four or 5 panels for the day. The only one that appeared to be going on while we were there was a Day of the Dead panel with a few members of the cast and Greg Nicotero.
All in all it was a good time. We were not there very long. Maybe a little more than 2 hours. If I was getting autographs, which is the entire basis of the convention, i'm sure I could have been there all day with all the lines.
There are currently SEVEN Walker Stalker Conventions planned for 2015, that includes another in NJ if planned. With the turnout, I would be surprised if it wasn't.
Check out Walker Stalker Con for all the details on upcoming shows and how to get tickets. Their Facebook page also has a lot of pics from their events.
Not many collectibles, but the cast of The Walking Dead is taking these paydays all the way to the bank, brother.
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