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Fans Heed The Call To Wizard World In Philadelphia

(credit: CBSPhilly)

(credit: CBSPhilly)

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By Gabriella Sacidor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Star Wars or Star Trek? DC or Marvel? The Walking Dead or The Evil Dead? The debate rages on. But for the thousands of fans invading the 14th annual Wizard World’s Philadelphia Comic-Con this weekend at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, it doesn’t really matter.

Fans from all over the world band together to celebrate their love of comic books, video games, science fiction and all things pop culture.

Visitors can meet their favorite TV and movie stars, including the Incredible Hulk himself, Lou Ferrigno.

“Philly’s great because it’s next to my hometown, I’m from New York. The people are very generous, very lovely and the show is twice as big this year,” Ferrigno said. “It brings me tremendous joy meeting my fans.”

Make no mistake about it — this Hulk is not computer generated!  So how does the iconic bodybuilder stay so fit?

“I would say the trick is being passionate and being consistent. You have to be consistent.  For example, you have to train at least three times a week. You can’t put it off on the weekend,” he said. “You have to be consistent, then you get into the groove, into the mode.  It’s all about going forward.”

Growing up, Ferrigno says the Hulk was his favorite comic book. He says he plans on returning to voice Hulk in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Another fan favorite appearing at Wizard World in Philadelphia is Jason David Frank, best known for his role as the Green and White Power Rangers on ‘Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.

“I love Philadelphia, the energy here is great too. And it’s going to be a really big show, I can already tell from yesterday,” Frank said on Friday. “I got to see the Rocky statue, ran the steps, walked the city, it was fun.”

The MMA star says he enjoys being accessible to fans at conventions and building relationships through social media.

“It’s more than just come say hi, take a picture,” Frank said. “I talk to everybody. I think that’s the most important thing that you want to do is communicate, be the superhero, but let the fans know that they matter because without them we wouldn’t be here.”

A highly accomplished martial artist with 34 years experience, Frank will teach a 30 minute long karate class on Sunday. So what can fans expect?

“Just train, learn the basic martial art moves and hopefully they’ll be involved in another martial arts school,” Frank said.

(credit: CBSPhilly)

(credit: CBSPhilly)

Throughout the convention, fans are happy to dress up like their favorite superhero and hang out with their super friends.

“I just like meeting the other people that come here and taking pictures with people,” Cory of Virginia Beach said.

Fans Phil and Elendriel don’t get to see each other much these days. But, when the Wizard World lineup in Philadelphia was announced, they heeded the call like Batman does to the Bat signal. Elendriel says she traveled from Hawaii to meet up with Phil, of Baltimore, and six other friends.

It’s definitely like a reunion,” she said. “We go all over the country.  Next year I’m going to go to a convention in Australia.”

Dressed as Captain America and Winter Soldier, they say they’ve spent about $4,000 each on their suits.

”We’ve been working on these on and off for months and upgrading and upgrading, so it’s time to finally debut the newly updated version, so we’re excited,” Elendriel said.

And Phil says the investment pays off.

“You can do events and costume contests and win prizes,” he said.

They say they’ve won concert tickets and even Disneyland passes.

“You can’t beat that,” Elendriel said.

For others, it was their first convention.

“This is our first Comic Con,” Hannah said. “We’ve been to smaller meet ups, but nothing like this.”

(credit: CBSPhilly)

(credit: CBSPhilly)

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Hannah and her three friends dressed as characters from the web comic Homestuck.

“To be a fan, you have to come to one of these conventions and just see everything, and get the real experience,” Sarah said.

“Especially with a group of friends it’s really fun,” Hannah said. “It’s a great experience.”

Admission is $45 to $55 (plus a $7 fee). A picture with a celebrity can range anywhere from $40 to $260. Autographs range from $30 to $150.

Wizard World runs through Sunday.  For more information, click here.

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