This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending Walker Stalker Con in London, and as a convention newbie, this event was the perfect mix of fan and fame.
Walker Stalker Con was founded in 2013 by James Frazier, and what started out as a small Kickstarter campaign grew into a fan phenomenon. Now spanning 9 cities a season, Walker Stalker Con is the ultimate Walking Dead fan experience, that brings the stars and creators of the show to the people. From the amazing response to Walker Stalker Con, Frazier created FanFest.com, and during Chandler Riggs’ panel this weekend, Frazier and FanFest Director of Creative Content Nick Floyd announced that their fan empire is expanding into originally produced content under the title of FanFest Entertainment. After witnessing what FanFest has been able to accomplish with their conventions (they also run Heros & Villians Fest), I have no doubt that this team will be able to bring some really original and fun content to our screens.
As this was my first Walker Stalker Con, I wasn’t sure what to expect. When I got to the Olympia London, I was more than pleasantly surprised by what I found. The venue was comfortable, easy to maneuver, and had plenty of amenities.
The first thing fans found when they entered the venue were the excellent vendor booths, which sold products ranging from original art prints of The Walking Dead characters to actual katanas like the one Michonne famously welds on the show. The popular product among the prop vendors were replicas of Negan’s beloved barbed-wire baseball bat, “Lucille”. There was a nice variety in the products being sold and I found that there were things for all kinds of fans, whether they were looking for casual ways to show support for their fandom or they were next-level cosplayers looking for the best products and props for their next costume.
I found the lines to meet the celebrity guests to be manageable for the most part, with the obvious exceptions of Danai Gurira, Chandler Riggs, and Melissa McBride. If you wanted to meet any of those three, you could expect to wait for 45 minutes easily. But the sheer number of guests meant that there were lots of excellent stars to be met, so lines went smoothly on the whole.
If you wanted to skip the lines altogether, Gold/Platinum passholders got escorted to the front. Of course, to meet two of the biggest stars of the show — Norman Reedus and Jeffery Dean Morgan — you had to be a Gold/Platinum passholder anyway. Speaking to many of the Gold/Platinum passholders, they told me that this was easily the best way to experience Walker Stalker Con. Many of them were seasoned convention goers who had started off as General Admission and gradually worked their way up to Gold/Platinum when they realized the value of the perks. With the Gold/Platinum passes, they got to bypass to lines, primary seating for panels, photo ops & autographs included. General Admission and VIP had to pay per autograph & photo, most of which ran for at least 40 GB Pounds (about $60) each.
I was really impressed with the panels, which brought together a nice variety of the guests, and always felt very authentic and special. They were run almost entirely of fan questions, which I really liked because I felt that FanFest was making a real effort to put the fans at the center of the event and allowing them the greatest opportunity to be involved.
BELOW: Main Stage Panels featuring Laurie Holden, Scott Wilson, IronE, Christian Serratos, Michael Cudlitz, Sonequa Martin Green, & more.
I particularly liked the Live Stage shows that were offered throughout the convention, which were wonderfully located on a stage in the center of the convention hall. They were more intimate interviews than the Main Stage panels, and Walker Stalker Con veteran moderator Dave Solo did a great job of engaging the crowd with entertainment and giveaways.
BELOW: Michael Rooker (“Merle”, The Walking Dead/”Yondu”, Guardians of the Galaxy) on the Live Stage.
The event culminated in a really special final Main Stage panel featuring Chandler Riggs in his first Walker Stalker Con appearance since his character’s death on the show. James Frazier and Dave Solo moderated the panel, which featured fan and co-star eulogies to Carl Grimes, and well wishes to Chandler Riggs. It was a really moving moment to see Riggs’ TV mother Sarah Wayne Callies join Riggs on stage and praise him for all of his hard work on the show. Then Danai Gurira came on stage as well, as her character Michonne shared a special bond with Riggs’ Carl.
BELOW: Walker Stalker Con founder James Frazier and Walker Nation podcast co-host Dave Solo interview Sarah Wayne Callies (“Lori Grimes”), Danai Gurira (“Michonne”) and Chandler Riggs (“Carl Grimes”).
I think the most joy I got out of being at Walker Stalker Con was watching how much fun the other fans were having. This convention was well run and had so many opportunities for fans to meet and experience the world of The Walking Dead. It was first and foremost a fan event, and the staff and celebrity guests really embraced that. I look forward to seeing what FanFest will be able to do in the future, both with their top quality conventions and their new original programming venture. They put on a great show for us, and the community this event has cultivated has made me forever proud to be a The Walking Dead fan.
Tell Us: Have you ever been to Walker Stalker Con? If not, do you want to?