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World-class experiences without the world-class ego.
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By Daniela Cacho and John Luteran
Wizard World Comic-Con 2020, held March 6 - 8 at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland, attracts people from all over — and all walks of life — to come together to celebrate the best of the best pop culture characters, costumes and meet-and-greets.
Why is Cleveland such a great location for Wizard World? Because we are HQ for some of the biggest pop culture films and creatives, where you can relive or act out your favorite scenes to your heart’s content.
We’re the city where Superman creator Jerry Siegel was born and attended Glenville High School with his classmate and co-creator Joe Shuster. We aren’t bothered by people invoking their Spidey Sense in the middle of Downtown Cleveland like Peter Parker in “Spider-Man 3.” And we certainly appreciate Captain America references at The Cleveland Museum of Art (a.k.a., SHIELD headquarters in “Captain America: Winter Soldier”).
Need more ideas for the perfect way to geek-out over Wizard World weekend? Read on and prosper.
First stop: one of Cleveland’s most popular comic book shops since 1990, Carol & John's Comic Book Shop. Don’t let this small spot fool you. Carol & John's is packed in with popular and rare comics and memorabilia.
Grab lunch and sit under the jaw-dropping rotunda at Heinen’s Downtown Cleveland inside the former Cleveland Trust Building where scenes from Marvel’s 2012 blockbuster “The Avengers” were filmed. The grocery-store-slash-eatery-slash-attraction sits at the corner of Euclid Avenue and East Ninth Street, and features foods both made to order and already prepared, as well as an amazing wine and beer selection.
Head back to get your best costume and makeup ready, because it’s Wizard World time! The party begins at Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland. You might lock eyes with celebrities like Caitriona Balfe of Starz hit “Outlander,” the inconceivable duo of Cary Elwes and Wallace Shawn of “The Princess Bride” and even more to be announced, so reserve your autograph or photo opportunities beforehand and make sure to check the schedule for exclusive Q&A sessions with your pop culture faves.
Head over to Melt Bar & Grilled in Lakewood for the best meal you will have between two slices of bread. Seriously. Try their sammy dedicated to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Cowabunga. It’s filled with cheese pizza rolls — done extra crispy, with rich basil marinara sauce, cheese, cheese and more cheese.
For comic fans who are 21 and older, continue the fun at 16-Bit Bar + Arcade, where none of their arcade machines require quarters – as long as you are enjoying a cold one. Make time to hang out on the all-seasons, heated patio where their TV screens are used for Mario Kart and other classic Nintendo GameCube games.
Image © Larry E. Highbaugh, Jr.
Break your fast at Shay’s Restaurant, where legendary Clevelander and comic book series creator Harvey Pekar convinced Robert Crumb to be his illustrator. The real-life event was depicted in the 2003 film “American Splendor,” also filmed at the restaurant.
Though, sadly, you’ll never be able to board a ship to visit the planet Krypton, here in Cleveland you’ll get as close to Superman’s origins as possible. Visit Jerry Siegel's house, where Jerry Siegel first conceived of the original superhero with Joe Shuster. His home is currently privately owned, but you can walk by and gawk at historic comic work and plaques.
Make your way back downtown and have lunch at Rebol. If, when standing on the newly revived Public Square, you suddenly feel the urge to defend the world from Loki and his alien army, we’ll understand. After all, it was the setting for a scene from “The Avengers” which saw the area transformed into Stuttgart, Germany.
Make your way to the Hall of Legends to celebrate and honor the artists, writers and insiders who built the comic industry. And don’t forget to wear your best pop culture duds today for the always amazing costume contest. Costumed attendees ages 13 and over can sign up for all the cosplay fun. Like people watching? Welcome to heaven.
Got a spare Lucha Libre mask? Bring it to El Carnicero for a delicious Mexican-themed meal in the shadow of wrestling paraphernalia. Get the guac trio and a red bell pepper margarita with a chile-lime salt rim. You’re welcome, in advance.
If we keep sending you back to Lakewood, it’s because it’s a wonderfully weird place. Tonight, grown-ups can make their way to The Side Quest, an absolute celebration of all things pop culture with classic and new table-top games, theme nights and events. Mondays are reserved for “Mario Kart” tournaments, Thursdays for the Geeks Who Drink pub quiz, and Sundays for beginners’ “Dungeons & Dragons.” Pop culture parties like “Harry Potter Day” are their specialty, each accompanied by a menu of themed craft cocktails and food specials, as well as encouragement to come in costume.
This place did it first and did it damn right. Make sure to get a seat at Tabletop Board Game Cafe, Cleveland’s first board game café. With more than 1,000 different games on site, it’s so easy to spend several hours at the Ohio City hotspot. And need we remind you (again) that Cleveland loves food? At Tabletop, their brunch menu is filled with all things delicious, even for those with strict diets. Oh, and they have beer, in case you need to nurse a Hulk-sized hangover.
It’s your final day of Wizard World Comic Con, so do it up right! Today’s the kids’ chance at a costume contest. Check the programming schedule to check where they need to be and when to enter. Pack in all the adventure, photo ops, autographs and activities that you can before the end of the day, when the show closes.
Don’t worry, all the wonder and magic of Wizard World will be back next year, so start stitching that spandex suit together now and get ahead of the game.
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