Walkers headed to Chicago for fan-centric zombie convention

SHARE Walkers headed to Chicago for fan-centric zombie convention

Heads up: Walkers invaded Atlanta, and now they’re headed for Chicago.

Walker Stalker Con — a convention for devotees of “The Walking Dead” and other horror and sci-fi fiction — is coming to Rosemont in March.

The first Walker Stalker Con took place last month in Atlanta, Ga., where the hit AMC series is filmed.

The organizers — a couple of fanboy dads from Tennessee who do a popular “TWD” podcast — said the three-day event was such a success, they decided to take the show on the road. Walker Stalker Con Chicago is scheduled for March 14-16 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.

Walker Stalker Con organizers James Frazier (right) and Eric Nordhoff (center) with “The Walking Dead” star Andrew Lincoln (left) at last month’s Atlanta convention.

“That’s St. Patrick’s Day weekend,” organizer Eric Nordhoff said. “Maybe instead of turning the river green, we could turn it red.” The upcoming pow-wow is another sign of the pop culture clout wielded by the comic book-inspired cable series, where walkers (or biters … but they’re never called “zombies”) battle the living in a post-apocalyptic world. The show, whose midseason finale was Sunday, returned for its fourth season in October to a record-breaking 16.1 million viewers. In the advertiser-coveted adult demo, it’s the most-watched series on cable and broadcast, including sports.

Walker Stalker Con Chicago’s line-up will include panel discussions and meet-and-greets with some of “The Walking Dead” actors as well as other horror and sci-fi personalities. Saturday’s festivities call for a cosplay-encouraged zombie bash.

“TWD” fans dress up as the Governor and a walker at Walker Stalker Con Atlanta’s zombie costume bash. (Photo courtesy James Frazier)

Tickets range from $35 to $199 for a three-day VIP pass (not including handling fees). They’re on sale at http://walkerstalkercon.com/chicago/tickets/. Type in the code “Chicago25” for 25 percent off ticket prices through Thursday.Atlanta’s convention, where single-day attendance reportedly peaked at around 5,000 people on Saturday, featured an impressive roster of “Walking Dead” talent, including Andrew Lincoln (Sheriff Rick Grimes) and Norman Reedus (crossbow-carrying Daryl Dixon). The first actors confirmed for Chicago are Scott Wilson (grandfatherly Hershel) and Robert “IronE” Singleton (“T-Dog” in the first three seasons). As of Dec. 11, Lauren Cohan (newly orphaned Maggie Greene) joined the growing line-up, too. More names will be revealed leading up to the event, co-organizer James Frazier said.

Walker Stalker Con organizers said Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie Greene, has signed on for the Chicago event. (Photo courtesy AMC)

“We anticipate a majority of the same cast and crew that were at the Atlanta event will also be in Chicago, and we hope to add additional cast,” Frazier said. The exhibit floor will be open throughout the weekend with games, toys, comics and other memorabilia for fans of zombie, horror and science fiction.

The idea for the event stems from a “TWD”-inspired roadtrip Frazier and Nordhoff took last year, when the two friends drove from Nashville, Tenn., to Senoia, Ga. (a k a Woodbury), to watch the filming of the season three finale.

“It was a dream day,” Frazier said. “We got to meet the actors, watch them film the final scene.”

Someone dubbed them Walker Stalkers, a moniker they adopted for their twice-weekly podcasts. They wanted to recreate their experience for other fans, so Frazier, an attorney, and Nordoff, an entrepreneur, turned to the crowdsource-funding platform Kickstarter to breathe life into the first Walker Stalker Con.

A second Atlanta convention is scheduled for next fall. As to why their expansion plans are bringing them to Rosemont, they said they narrowed the options down to three cities — Philadelphia, Hartford, Conn., and Chicago —and let their fans pick.

The Windy City devoured the competition.

“Our podcast gets a lot of listeners in Chicago,” Frazier said. “We said, ‘Let’s go where the fans want us to go.’”

Kids are welcome to attend everything at Walker Stalker Con except the zombie bash, which is for ages 18 and up.

“It’s going to be family-friendly,” Nordhoff said about the convention. “James has six kids, I have three. They’re fans.”

Their wives, not so much.

“They don’t watch the show,” Frazier said. “They think we’re nuts.”

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