Photo by Jeffrey Kopp.
Photo by Jeffrey Kopp.

Cast members of some of television’s biggest shows, including “The Walking Dead,” “Fear the Walking Dead,” “Breaking Bad” and “Z Nation,” descended upon the Park and Expo Center for Walker Stalker Con Charlotte. This two-day event gave fans the unique opportunity to shop for art and merchandise, watch panels and meet their favorite celebrities and fellow fans.

This particular convention was at the center of a controversy in relation to North Carolina’s discriminatory House Bill 2. The event was originally scheduled for a weekend in late-June, but was pushed back to December in the hopes that the bill would be repealed. While that hasn’t happened yet, the organizers decided to go ahead with the December date and offered special booths on the convention floor to local LGBTQ organizations.

The event opened its doors to hundreds of fans on Saturday morning. Notable celebrity guests from AMC’s “The Walking Dead” included Chandler Riggs (Carl), Tom Payne (Jesus), Michael Cudlitz (Abraham) and Scott Wilson (Hershel). Several cast-members from other hit television series included Giancarlo Esposito (Gus, “Breaking Bad”), Keith Allen (Murphy, “Z Nation”), Lorenzo Henrie (Chris, “Fear the Walking Dead”) and Ming Chen (“Comic Book Men”). Attendees were able to wait in lines to talk to, receive autographs and take photos with celebrities from their favorite shows and horror films. The celebrity guests spent time with each fan that waited in their line, signifying the unique bond that exists between the cast and fans of “The Walking Dead.”

As with any fan convention, the cosplayers (costume-play) came out in droves to show off their creativity to the masses. The most popular cosplay seemed to be Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s villain, Negan, complete with a baseball-bat wrapped in barbed-wire named Lucille; some fans took a festive approach to their Lucille by replacing the barbed wire with tinsel and Christmas lights. Other popular cosplays were Carl Grimes and Rosita Espinosa, also from “The Walking Dead.” A large component of a convention such as this is the people-watching, as well as spotting your favorite characters as cosplayers in the crowd.

The convention floor of Walker Stalker Con Charlotte. (Photo by Jeffrey Kopp.)
The convention floor of Walker Stalker Con Charlotte. (Photo by Jeffrey Kopp.)

Walker Stalker Con features a wide variety of panels, which offer an enjoyable break from the hectic convention floor. Two stages were set up at the Charlotte convention, allowing attendees the opportunity to stop and watch celebrities speak about their respective shows, careers and experiences meeting fans. Notable panels included Giancarlo Esposito and RJ Mitte discussing “Breaking Bad,” the cast of “Z Nation” and a lively Q&A session with Michael Rooker, who talked about his beloved roles of Merle Dixon on “The Walking Dead” and Yondu in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” These highly interactive panels allowed fans the opportunity to step up to the microphone and ask their burning questions or simply ask for a hug.

It wouldn’t be a convention if there wasn’t a large array of merchandise and artwork for attendees to peruse and purchase. From t-shirts and shoes to license plates and coffee mugs, there was “The Walking Dead” themed merchandise for pretty much everyone. The official Skybound (the company behind “TWD”) booth had copies of “TWD” comic books for sale, as well as life-size versions of Lucille. There was also plenty of phenomenal fan-art to admire and purchase as a souvenir. Featured artist Rob Prior spent both days meticulously painting large portraits of Glenn and Jesus from “The Walking Dead” in front of convention-goers, displaying his wildly-impressive talent.

Walker Stalker Con brought in crowds of fans, providing them with the special experience of meeting and greeting some of the biggest stars on television. While this convention had a rocky start with the HB2 controversy, a real sense of unity was present in Charlotte; fans and celebrities came together in spite of the unjust law to celebrate each other and spread positivity. For more information about Walker Stalker Con and its upcoming show dates, visit WalkerStalkerCon.com.

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Jeffrey Kopp is the Community Editor of the Niner Times. He is a senior double majoring in Communication and Political Science. His interests include writing and keeping up with an excessive amount of television shows. He is also the go-to expert on all things “The Walking Dead."

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