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Wizard World Comes to Tulsa

Michael Cross
Rachael Ceballos (left) and Adrian De Sa Pereira (right)

For the first time ever, one of the biggest pop culture conventions made its way to Oklahoma.

Wizard World which currently runs 16 conventions across the country brought its event to Tulsa over the weekend.

Hundreds of people in various outfits based off science fiction, fantasy, comic books and popular culture stream into the exhibition hall under the Wizard World banners.

The sold out Saturday event at the Cox Business Center brings fans from all across Oklahoma.

Among the crowds of cos players, we find Adrian De Sa Pereira of Enid dressed as Green Lantern.

Adrian originally wanted to dress as the lesser known D.C. character, Caitlin Fairchild, but ran out of time, and wasn’t going to miss this.

“I knew I wanted to come here because it’s my birthday tomorrow, so this is my birthday present to myself, so decided I wanted to go as Green Lantern instead.”

First off, many of you might be asking what is cos play?

Well, cosplay is dressing up as a character from movies, books or video games in pop culture.

Some cosplayers like Adrian create their own get ups, even taking months and months to make the perfect outfit.

While others, like her friend Rachael Ceballos, decided to buy hers. Rachel is honoring Doctor Who by dressing up as Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor complete with bow tie and fez. She stands amazed at the people who create their own costumes.

“You can kind of tell a lot about a person by who they dress up as and so it’s always kind of nice to see them and the effort they put in, a lot of creative people here. Hearing people’s stories and if you say something nice to complement they’re like ‘Oh my God, I know, thanks, it took me like 12 hours to make this’. And, they’re just really proud of it.”

Then there are those who make cosplay a family affair. Mike Buckendorf of Tulsa teaches at East Central University and OSU. He and his daughter are dressed as Captain America and Cap’s sidekick Bucky Barnes from World War II. While Mike’s been with a group doing pop culture cos play for about a year, putting on different outfits is nothing new.

“We’ve been running around doing World War Two and historical reenacting for 11 years, but going in costume is relatively new. I mean, I used to do it back in the day, but I started dragging my kids into it.”

Throughout the exhibition area, local vendors like Tee Happy also known as Blue Box Tees in Oklahoma City are selling their wares.

Booths also contain local groups like Jedi OKC which provides support to charities while showing love for the Star Wars franchise.

On the opposite side of the hall, fans get signatures from icons like William Shatner from Star Trek, Robert Englund from Nightmare on Elm Street, Ralph Macchio from the Karate Kid and Lou Ferrigno from the Incredible Hulk.

In between, comic book and pop culture artists show off their work.

Jerry Bennett of Oklahoma City sits among them. The full-time artist has drawn for Marvel, Lucas Film and even done a special drawing of Spider-Man for the legendary Stan Lee. Jerry says he’s never seen a convention this big in Oklahoma, and he’s not sure why it’s taken so long.

“There’s people on the east and west coast I think that still think that we drive in wagons and stuff. I don’t know, but I’m so glad that we’re finally getting to show our true colors, you know. It’s the best I could ever hope for from a con, because, I mean, the crowds are responsive. They’re just loving everything, and they’re exuberant and ecstatic and it’s just great energy.”

Outside the exhibition hall, the conference rooms feature panel discussions on pop culture from local groups like the Tulsa Doctor Who Viewing Society and Nerdy Girls of Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

Nerdy girls held two separate panels on women involved in a fandom which females used to shun but now make up about 45% of consumers.

Board member Shay Beezley says the women-only national group also hopes to assure girls that it’s okay to love geek things and also real world Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

“Nerdy Girls is about providing support for women, especially women who are interested in STEM careers. It’s about encouraging and following through that ‘You are smart. You are intelligent. Don’t let the world beat you down’. A lot of what we do is not just socializing but skill sharing.”

Back in the Exhibition hall, Adrian and Rachael are enjoying the sights of everyone celebrating the geek cultures.

Adrian says she really hopes to see this again next year.

“It’s nice to see that people are willing to get out of comfort zones and be out like this in public. I’m kind of out in the middle of nowhere being from Enid, but being able to get here in 2 hours is perfect, so that I can actually get to see and be around other nerds. It makes me feel like I’m not the only one.”

Wizard World is expanding next year from 16 events to 24.

One organizer tells us Tulsa will again be on the schedule for 2015.

In fact, he says he hopes to bring the Tulsa Comic Con in late October rather than early November.

You can find pictures of the event on my blog: Okie Geek.

Michael Cross is the host of KOSU's Morning Edition.
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