By Isadora Vail
Special contributor to

Wizards, video game characters, sci-fi villains, super heroes and superstars attended the 2011 Wizard World Comic Con, a local spin off of the world-famous San Diego comic book convention.

Hundreds of pop-culture fans gathered at the Austin Convention Center to trade comic books, buy action figures, and listen to panels with their favorite stars. Perhaps the most impressive, and extensive part of the Austin Comic Con this year, was the artist and creators section. Famous artists such as Phil Ortiz from The Simpsons and Greg Capullo from Batman signed autographs and sold rare pieces of artwork. Dozens more decorated the large ballroom of the convention center with their intricate drawings. The convention ran Friday through Sunday, and drew big names like Kevin Sorbo from “Hercules,” Hayden Panettiere from “Heroes,” as well as James Marsters and Juliet Landau from “Buffy.”

For 24-year-old Cheryl Ball, Comic Con is about sharing a love of “cause play,” dressing up as a favorite character, and acting as that character — think of theater, she says. She was dressed as a Quest Giver from the popular video game “World of Warcraft.” With a yellow icon bobbing above her head (an exclamation point that means a new quest in the game) and a satchel full of prizes, Ball wandered through the convention on her own. Thankfully, she said, a few people caught on to her costume and asked for a quest.

“I love cause play and this is my excuse for actually do it all weekend,” said Ball, who attended last year’s Austin Comic Con. “This year seems like it has a lot more of a Sci Fi draw more than comic books, but I’m quite happy with that.”