Comic books carry a bad stigma. The common man regards them as cheap, childish rags that should be abandoned as one enters the adult world. Nerds regard them as heavenly fruit, a form that can rival the best literature. The informed common man who isn't a nerd? Well, he knows that, like most forms of entertainment, comics can be amazing, they can be trashy, or they can fall in between.

I'd like to think that I fall into that last category, so it is with great interest and anxiety that I attended Philadelphia's Wizard World East Convention on Saturday, May 22. The Comic Eden was hosted at the Philadelphia Convention Center, and it featured a wide array of characters, ranging from porn stars to Stormstroppers to comic artists.

The biggest name on the schedule was Alfred Molina, star of this summer's Spider-Man 2, as well as the recently released Coffee and Cigarettes. Convention attendees, however, were greeted with the news that Molina would not be attending on Saturday, due to "weather conditions in New York." Disappointed, but not deterred, many visitors lined up for an autograph from Eliza Dushuku, star of FOX's Tru Calling. Dushuku did show for the event, but access was limited -- the line for an autograph was cut off before 11 am, and Dushuku did not come out until noon. Patrons who were lucky enough to gain a spot in line spent a good portion of the morning and early afternoon sitting, standing or squatting in one spot.

Dushuku's visit tells the story of Wizard World's most popular stars -- a great opportunity to meet a celebrity, but one that you will pay for with your time. The line for Dushuku's Q&A session was long just minutes after the convention's opening.

A one-day pass to the event went for $20, while a three day pass was $40. Many dealers offered 50% off deals on their comics, but the high prices for DVDs and long waits for exclusive products and celebrities didn't seem worthy of the convention's price tag. Wizard World presents a unique opportunity for fans of a strong art form to unite, but shady celebrity attendance and long lines prevent Wizard World from being as magical as its namesake.


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