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“Comic Cons” aren’t just about comic books anymore.

The granddaddy of them all, San Diego Comic-Con, started in 1970 as a comic book convention, but today, the many “Cons” taking place across the country and around the world are as much about television as about drawings on a page.

“Where pop culture comes to life” is the slogan of Wizard World Comic Con, which arrives in St. Louis this weekend, bringing actors from a wide array of television shows, most (but not all) from the science-fiction and fantasy realm.

Of course, that’s just the tip of the wizard’s wand. Visitors will also find authors and comic book artists, WWE stars, costumed players and booth after booth of merchandise for sale. There are panel discussions, screenings and speed-dating sessions designed to bring geeks together.

Here’s a look at some of the headliners best known for their TV work. For a full schedule, including a list of the cost for some sessions, visit


Hayley Atwell is Peggy Carter in “Marvel’s Agent Carter,” just picked up for a second season by ABC. But before that, she played Carter in movies beginning with 2011’s “Captain America: The First Avenger” and continuing at least through the forthcoming “Ant-Man.” Also added to the Wizard World St. Louis roster from “Marvel’s Agent Carter” is Lyndsy Fonseca, who played Angie in Season 1.


Robin Lord Taylor is the breakout star of Fox’s “Gotham” as Oswald Cobblepot, the fledgling villain known as the Penguin. In a slightly overlapping role, though, Taylor played Sam, a wandering survivor of the zombie plague on AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” Sam wound up in Terminus, with the expected unfortunate outcome.


Giancarlo Esposito is probably on the Wizard World roster because of his role as Sidney Glass, alternatively the Magic Mirror, on ABC’s fairy tale drama “Once Upon a Time.” But fans of AMC’s “Breaking Bad” know him as the immortal Gus Fring, the pleasant, spiffily dressed meth distributor who was deceptively evil and coldly ruthless, right up to the end. His end.


Michael Rooker was a blue-skinned alien in last year’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but before that, he was vicious, violent Merle Dixon on AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” (His brother, Daryl, survives him.) Also from “The Walking Dead” is Alanna Masterson, who plays Tara Chambler, a former member of the Governor’s community who has become vital in helping the good guys fight walkers.


Christian Kane is currently hard at work as Jacob Stone, rough-hewn genius, on TNT’s “The Librarians,” in which a team solves mystical mysteries. But Kane’s roots in the sci-fi and fantasy realm run as deep as “Angel,” in which he played lawyer Lindsey MacDonald. Kane also starred on TNT’s “Leverage,” and in what would seem to be his limited spare time, he fronts the rock band Kane.


A tornado picked up sharks, and the rest was history (and huge ratings) for the Syfy channel. Tara Reid survived both the first and second “Sharknado” movies, and is back for the third (“Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No”) airing July 22. Fans may also want to pick Reid’s brain about appearances in such genre movies as “Urban Legend” (1998), “Devil’s Pond” (2003) and “Incubus” (2006).


Liam McIntyre stepped into the lead of Starz’s “Spartacus” after Andy Whitfield became ill and later died. His background in fantasy stretches from 2014’s “The Legend of Hercules” to a recurring role on the CW’s “The Flash.”

Other TV folks set to appear at Wizard World Comic Con St. Louis include B.J. Britt, who played Agent Triplett on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”; Rick Cosnett, Eddie on “The Flash”; and Naomi Grossman, who played the tragic Pepper on “American Horror Story: Asylum” and “AHS: Freak Show.”

The organizers note that the talent list is subject to change, so keep an eye on the website. And somebody pick me up a T-shirt, OK?

What Wizard World Comic Con • When 3-8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday • Where America’s Center, 701 Convention Plaza • How much Three-day pass, $80 in advance and $90 at the door; single day, $40 Friday, $50 Saturday, $45 Sunday; children under 10 are free with adult admission, two per paid adult; three-day VIP package is $200; autograph packages have additional charges • More info

Gail Pennington is the television critic for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.