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Fandom Festival to Bring William Shatner, Stan Lee and 'Walking Dead' Cast Members

Here's your chance to see Khal Drogo, Merle Dixon and James T. Kirk up close.Over the years, San Diego Comic-Con has spawned an annual pilgrimage for people obsessively interested in nerd culture. It's where filmmakers and television showrunners debut trailers and news for upcoming seasons and where celebrities come in close contact with fans.There's only one Comic-Con, but cities across the U.S. have similar, smaller events that focus around the same interests—pop culture, nerd culture, fantasy films and literature, sci-fi, comic books and more. Fandom Fest is Louisville's biggest particpant in that circuit.The schedule includes:

  • Will Shatner
  • Comic creator Stan Lee
  • "X-Files" star Gillian Anderson
  • And actors from television shows such as "The Walking Dead," "Dr. Who," "Firefly" and more.
  • Here's a list of celebrities scheduled to be there, though the festival's website notes that it could change.

Actor Jason Mewes and filmmaker Kevin Smith—a.k.a. Jay and Silent Bob from "Clerks" and several other films—kicked off the event Wednesday with an appearance at a showing of the animated film "Jay & Silent Bob's Groovy Cartoon Movie." Mewes stopped by WFPL on Wednesday to discuss the movie,plus his surprise at still being "Jay" 20 years after "Clerks" and his battles with drug addiction.Most of the celebrities are slated to do Q&A sessions or panels, many will also have photo sessions for a fee.Ticket information for all of Fandom Festivalis here.Last year's festival drew about 17,000 people—and city officials  are thinking this year's festival could draw as many as 40,000, said Zach Schuyler, a spokesman for Fandom.That would be a dramatic increase from the festival's start several years ago.“It started with humble beginnings as a horror convention, as Fright Night Film Festival, which is still part of that," Schuyler said. "But once we added the pop culture element and started bringing the sci-fi fantasy celebrities, it really just exploded.”(Here's a story I wrote about it for The Courier-Journal back then. You have to pay to read most of it, though.)The festival runs through Sunday's Gene Simmons events. This year's events will be held at the Galt House and the Kentucky International Convention Center.Panels include:

  • Sound Off: Getting Into Voice Acting
  • Writing Comics: Trials & Tribulations
  • "Chucky" (As in, the horror film about a possessed doll.)
  • History of the Power Rangers

A panel schedule ishere.

Joseph Lord is the online managing editor for WFPL.