More than 35,000 "Walking Dead" fans from all over the country converged to meet virtually the entire current cast of "The Walking Dead" at panels, in person and at parties in downtown Atlanta. On top of that, many former cast members were there as well.
The two Nashville-based "Walking Dead" podcasters and convention organizers James Frazier and Eric Nordhoff were a steady presence, moderating several of the panels and keeping the actors happy. They also managed to more than triple the size of the convention over last year's inaugural one.
Attendees who wanted to be up close and personal to the actors had to plan accordingly, as if they were at Disney World or Six Flags. That meant waiting for an hour or more to meet Norman Reedus or Andrew Lincoln, not nearly so long for others.
There were plenty of comic book writers and artists, "Walking Dead" memorabilia, a zombie shooting gallery and even a replica RV that resembled Dale's vehicle from seasons 1 and 2 outside, where they had food trucks, too. Surprisingly, there were only a few folks dressed up cosplay style. I saw a handful of Ricks and Daryls, just one Lori in a white dress. A few folks were giving people zombie makeovers, including "Face Off" competitor and Netherworld expert Roy Wooley.
People did get annoyed when during Q&A panels, fans kept asking for "hugs," which ate up an inordinate amount of time during the "bromance" panel with Reedus and Lincoln (packed to the gills with 3,000-plus people.) On Sunday, during the Steve Yeun panel, the organizers limited hugs to just two fans.
Otherwise, it seemed like attendees enjoyed themselves. The convention appeared well run. I even got to moderate a panel Friday with IronE Singleton, which did involve a well earned hug at the end from a tearful woman inspired by his story.
Here's a sample comment off Facebook from a fan who paid general admission (as opposed to VIP): Jenny Currey I thought general admission was well worth it. As a current active duty service member, yes who has deployed multiple times and has major issues with crowded situations, we were never turned away from anything. You have to remember where you are, and you also get what you pay for. We walked around, enjoyed a panel, and stood in line just like everyone else, waited and got our autograph ... @michael_rooker was awesome and just standing in his line was overly entertaining. Only let down was our cell phone pics came out a bit blurry but what do you expect when you have 1 min to get your picture, but I got a hug so I'm good.
The handful of no shows were Danai Gurira (Michonne), David Morrissey (the Governor), Jon Bernthal (Shane) and Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori).
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