This past weekend, Walker Stalker returned to Chicago for its second year. The convention was held at Navy Pier in Chicago and any die hard zombie lover or Lost lover was in attendance.
By: Allie Rashkow
This year’s guest list included big names from The Walking Dead and Lost including: Melissa McBride, Chad Coleman, Emily Kinney, Chandler Riggs, Steven Yeun, and Giancarlo Esposito to name a few. However fantastic the guest list might seem, upon the close of the convention it was nothing compared to what was originally advertised.
Due to “scheduling conflicts” or “prior obligations” nine guests in total canceled on the event. Included in those that canceled were big draw names like David Morrissey (The Governor), Sonequa Martin-Green (Sasha), Laurie Holden (Andrea), and fan favorite Danai Gurira who plays Michonne on The Walking Dead. Worse yet were the cancelations of all but two of the Lost reunion guests that the convention boasted to draw in more fans.
Of the names they promoted Harold Perrineau (Michael) and Mira Furlan (Danielle) were the only celebrities in attendance; Elizabeth Mitchell (Juliet), Nestor Carbonell (Richard) and Henry Ian Cusick (Desmond) canceled on the show; Carbonell canceled on his day of appearance and Henry only a few days before that. Other cancelations included Tyler James Williams who plays new arrival, Noah, on TWD and Manu Bennett. It was a harsh blow to fans that had already bought tickets to meet them.
Thankfully the convention was not nearly as chaotic as it was the previous year, most likely due to gained experience of those running the con and the large number of cancelations. Being held at Navy Pier allowed guests more room to breathe than last year’s venue, the Rosemont Convention Center.
The vendors were more spread out and even though there weren’t as many as one would expect to find at a convention the ones that were there were worked well with the con. The majority were artists selling their work with a few toy, clothing, jewelry and weapon vendors mixed in for fun. The art booths were definitely the highlight of the vendor area with so many different pieces to choose from making it possible for one to find just about anything they were looking for. A stand out piece of artwork was a take on the first season promo poster from The Walking Dead done in string art (string weaved around pins on a canvas), even with its hefty price tag, many people stopped to “Oo and ah” over it.
The celebrity guests that attended were wonderful and genuinely happy to be there (even if they were breaking ones pocket book). While the name of the game at a convention such as this is “waiting” once a person makes it to the celebrity’s autograph table the time spent is well worth their wait. For a fee ranging in price, depending on the celebrity, one could purchase an autograph and/or a “selfie” picture with the actor at the table while engaging in a short conversation if they chose.
We asked Christian Serratos who plays Rosita on TWD what it was like going from playing a quiet/nerd type girl in the Twilight movies to a bad B on TWD? She responded that, “It’s awesome! I was looking for a way to play a bad ass character; I just didn’t know how to go about it. So I was super excited when I got this part and the chance to play a bad chick!”
Josh McDermitt who plays Dr. Eugene Porter was next on the our list and we asked him what he thinks is going to happen to him now that we know he doesn’t have the cure? McDermitt’s response was absolutely priceless and entirely his own, “I know what’s going to happen. Do you want me to tell you what actually happens or what I think happens? Because I think aliens are going to come down and wipe us all out!” he then laughed and grew a tad more serious, “No, he’s just trying to find where he fits into the group, how to fit back into it now that he can’t just stand back and be protected. Learn to fight.”
Stand out quotes from Steven Yeun (Glenn) and Alana Masterson (Tara) came from the panel they were on together. One fan asked Steven “If Glenn hadn’t met Maggie do you think he would have given up on surviving?” Steven: “I think he would be more reckless, not giving up, but set in the idea of ‘it’s okay to go out a hero.’” Another fan asked what he thinks of Glenn’s changing emotional state and personality to which Steven replied “Glenn’s just trying to match himself to where Rick is.”
It is definitely easy to see that happening within the show, having it put into words though makes it easier to spot. Alana Masterson was asked “How did Tara forgiver herself for what the Governor did and what she was almost a part of?” Alana answered well, “There’s a lot of shit that people do because of the world they live in. She didn’t know what she was doing. It was just about surviving and protecting her family.” One interesting fact that was learned during the panel was that the majority of the now iconic tunnel scene in season 4, episode 15 was ad libbed.
This prompted an entire discussion about practical jokes Steven plays on Alana on set and Steven telling us, “I wish we could show you guys the blooper reels.” Alana replied, “The show you guys see is crap compared to the bloopers!” Everyone in that audience is now determined to track down some bloopers!
A final part of the con was related to the Syfy competition show Face Off. Two champions, J. Anthony Kosar (season 4) and Dina Cimarusti (season 7) were in attendance along with five contestants on the current season (8) of the show. It was interesting to hear each one of them say how “The competition is ten times harder in reality than Syfy actually shows. It makes us seem like all ‘blah, it’s no big deal’ when in reality we’re flipping out.”
It seems Syfy is the opposite of other networks which play up the worst of situations to make it more interesting than letting it be real and about the competition itself. One of the coolest parts of the con was watching Dina, season 7 champion, work her make-up magic. A normal girl was transformed into the walking dead before viewers’ eyes. All in all it took about 20-25 minutes to complete a small face make-up, to try and imagine a full body make-up that has to be done on the show is crazy. Dina herself is a sweet heart and she shared with us what her favorite make-up she did on the show was, her Aphrodite! Close second was her monkey jester from the “Wizard in Wonderland Challenge.”
While there were many cancelations the guests that did come well made up for it. The art vendors showed amazing talent and even though there was a surprising lack of costumes, it was learned that a good make-up can change the best looking of us into a dead and walking corpse! If that doesn’t make someone want to visit Walker Stalker next year what will?