Plenty of prominent people, pictures, expensive outfits and a crowded venue to boot – but it was no fashion show. I spent part of my weekend at Wizard World Tulsa in the Renaissance Tulsa Hotel and Convention Center. Following a quick frisk by security, patrons were free to explore the interior of the convention center and browse the vendors or ogle the cosplayers to their hearts’ content.
Backing up a bit: Wizard World is a traveling convention run by Wizard Entertainment Inc. Not dissimilar to San Diego Comic-Con, Wizard World boasts a roster of actors and writers that travel with the convention, often with an emphasis in science fiction or fantasy. Wizard World encourages cosplay – "costume play," or the act of dressing as a fictional character – and it seemed to me that nearly every third or fourth person was in costume. They even hosted a cosplay competition for those who took the craft more seriously.
Audrey Asteroid said they had been cosplaying for five years, and her costume was easily the product of 80 to 100 hours of work, between sewing, painting and constructing the mace from PVC pipe (it also lights up!). "It’s a passion," she said. She also told me that she put more hours into the cosplay than into her actual job.
I also spoke to Carrington Kline and Taylor Kline, dressed respectively as the eponymous protagonist of the video game "Hollow Knight" and the character Robin from Netflix’s "Stranger Things." Carrington’s mask was made of papier-mâché and took a week to make. Her duct tape sword took a couple days.
Josiah Marshall, dressed as the character Lieutenant Dan from the film "Forrest Gump," was popular with the patrons of Wizard World. He told me TulsaPeople wasn’t the first news outlet to take his picture. Regarding his cosplay: "I had the amputation last year," he told me, "Why not go with it?"
Exploring the floor a bit more, I took in the sights of the convention. Countless vendors sold pop-culture-inspired art. There were refreshments and snacks from Wild Bill’s Olde Fashioned Soda Pop Co. and Chocolate Moonshine Co.
Tucked in the back of the convention was a long line to test your aim at throwing axes, and near there, the celebrity guests. Actors Jewel Saite ("Firefly") and Cary Elwes ("The Princess Bride") were there, as well as Lou Ferrigno ("The Incredible Hulk") and professional wrestlers Lisa Marie Varon and Kevin Nash. I even saw Jason Momoa ("Aquaman," "Game of Thrones") signing autographs behind a crowd of people and cameras raised overhead.
I got the opportunity to speak with actor Thomas Ian Nicholas ("Rookie of the Year," "American Pie") about his experiences with Tulsa, and he recounted his fascination with tornadoes during the storms this summer. "I was so bummed that I didn’t get to actually see the tornado, but I think it was probably for the best," he said. "I was at the Doubletree, and I remember the warnings started and the hotel [intercom said], ‘Please back away from the window,’ and I went right to the window, camera out, like, ‘Come on! Let’s see this puppy!’ But it was nothing."
He’s also a musician (he played that night at the Blackbird on Pearl), but he wouldn’t give up film for music, or vice versa. "They scratch different itches," he said.
Nicholas’s first time in Tulsa was at last year’s convention. This summer he threw a first pitch for the Tulsa Drillers and attended a screening of "Rookie of the Year" at Circle Cinema, followed by a meet and greet. He also showed me a bobblehead of his "Rookie of the Year" character, Henry Rowengartner, wearing a Drillers jersey. It was produced this summer after the Tulsa Drillers "signed" Rowengartner, bringing him out of retirement.