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Chicago Comic Con a magnet for fans and celebrities

Copies some Marvel comics thhave inspired blockbuster movies recent years including Incredible Hulk Spider-Man X-Men CaptaAmerica. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media

Copies of some of the Marvel comics that have inspired blockbuster movies in recent years, including the Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, X-Men and Captain America. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media

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♦ Through Aug. 12

♦ Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N. River Road, Rosemont

♦ Tickets, $35-$85

♦ Visit

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Updated: August 11, 2012 7:38PM

With movies such as “The Avengers,” “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “The Dark Knight Rises” burning up the summer movie box office, you would expect Chicago’s original comic book fan fest Wizard World to be the must-do event of the summer for every fanboy and girl.

And you’d be right.

“You can expect bigger and better things from this year’s Wizard World Chicago Comic Con,” said Kevin Kelly, managing editor of Wizard World.

Kelly has been attending comic cons since 1997 and says that thanks to the attention generated by several hit comic book movies, attendance and fan enthusiasm should be high and a number of stars, comic book artists and writers have lined up to participate as guests.

“Without a question, hit comic book movies are definitely having an impact,” said Kelly. “Stars want to participate and fans want to see them. Every popular panel will have a line. It’s a different Comic Con experience when you can actually see someone in person.”

Chicago is home to not one, but two pop culture conventions. April’s Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo is a tough act to follow, but Kelly says his team is up to the task.

“Our emphasis this year as it is every year is to bring in top tear talent to make these conventions really special,” he said.

Chicago is a town that supports two major league baseball teams and two newspapers, and Kelly says it certainly can support two pop culture conventions.

“New York has had two conventions for years,” said Kelly. “Chicago is a major city, and it deserves two conventions as well.”

Moreover, he says, a little healthy competition can only be good for fans.

“When there is another fan convention, you can only react and strive to be better. And that is the best-case scenario for fans.”

Some of the highlights for this year’s show:

AUG. 10
2-2:45 p.m. | Mira (Katina Law) and Glaber (Craig Parker) from the Starz hit series “Spartacus” share behind-the-scenes moments and possibly drop hints of what is in store for the popular show’s third and final season.
3-3:45 p.m. | The second best thing to actually ponying up to the bar at Merlotte’s (one of the fictional settings in HBO’s hit series “True Blood”) has got to be a Q&A with the show’s shape-shifting bar owner Sam Merlotte himself, actor Sam Trammell.

5-5:45 p.m. | A trio of legendary “Star Trek” captains — William Shatner (James T. Kirk), Avery Brooks (Benjamin Sisko) and Scott Bakula (Jonathan Archer) —unite to discuss all things “Trekkie.”

AUG. 11
Noon-12:45 p.m. | Husband-and-wife duo Paul Wesley and Torrey DeVitto discuss what it’s like working opposite each other as moody vampire Stefan Salvatore and mysterious Dr. Meredith Fell on CW’s “The Vampire Diaries.”
3-3:45 p.m. | Harry Potter’s on-screen school yard nemesis Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) will no doubt discuss the fine art of magical wedgies and conjure up an unforgettable Q&A.

AUG. 12
11 a.m.-11:45 a.m. | You haven’t lived until you’ve heard comic book legend Stan Lee utter his iconic phrase “‘nuff said.” The Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame member will host a Q&A session.
Noon-12:45 p.m. | Sunnydale High is having its 20th reunion — sort of. “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” cast members James Marsters (Spike), Juliet Landau (Drusilla), Amber Benson (Tara), Camden Toy (“ubervamp” Turok-Han) and Doug Jones (the lead “Gentleman” in the iconic episode “Hush”) reunite for a Buffyfest Q&A in honor of the landmark cult favorite show’s 20th anniversary.
1-1:45 p.m. | Jon Bernthal (Shane Walsh on AMC’s “The Walking Dead”) discusses the hit zombie show and (spoiler alert if you didn’t watch this season) his career now that his character has met an untimely death.
2-2:45 p.m. | Norman Reedus, Sean Patrick Flanery and David Della Rocco discuss their involvement in cult favorite film “The Boondock Saints.”
While film and television stars are plentiful, Kelly says they haven’t forgotten about the comic book part of Wizard World Chicago Comic Con.
This year’s alley will feature five Will Eisner Comic Industry Award winners and eight Eisner Award nominees alongside more than 300 artists and writers. Notable artists include Carlos Pacheco (“Avengers Forever,” “X-Men” and “Green Lantern”), George Perez (“Superman), Greg Capullo (“Batman”; see sidebar) and J. Scott Campbell (“Avengers vs. X-Men,” and “Spider-Man”).
NOTE: In light of the tragegy in Colorado, Chicago convention goers can expect a strong security presence. All bags will be checked, and anyone showing up with a replica weapon, phaser, sword or lightsaber can expect to have their items closely inspected.

Misha Davenport is a local free-lance writer.

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