The Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) in Atlanta, Ga., hosted this year’s Walker Stalker Convention (WSC). The three day event lasted from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1 and held exclusive panels, celebrity photo ops, autograph signings and a cosplay contest to celebrate the AMC television show. WSC has become a worldwide convention to bring together Walking Dead fans and their favorite cast members along with vendors selling zombie apocalypse items.
This was the third year that Atlanta participated in WSC, and the city had to change venues from America’s Mart to accommodate the record 50,000 fans—a huge increase from last year’s 35,000. With The Walking Dead receiving high reviews for its sixth season, WSC spared no expense by having all five original survivors from season one present as well as numerous fan favorites.
Andrew Lincoln, who portrays the gritty police officer Rick Grimes, along with Chandler Riggs (Carl Grimes), Melissa McBride (Carol Peletier), Steven Yeun (Glenn Rhee) and Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon), were among the 75 actors and actresses present. Past favorites, such as David Morrissey (the Governor) and Jon Bernthal (Shane Walsh) also appeared along with current cast members Danai Gurira (Michonne) and Michael Cudlitz (Abraham Ford).
Cudlitz participated in one of the first panels with his cohorts Christian Serratos (Rosita Espinosa) and Josh McDermitt (Eugene Porter) as they reformed Abraham’s Army. The group spent most of their panel poking fun at one another and other cast members. Serratos compared their jobs as actors to “big giant kids during playtime.” The panel also discussed some of the components of the set, such as cursing and violence. Cudlitz explained that “the [cursing] is very strongly monitored.” He also reflected on character development over time and how that evolved whenever a cast member died in the show.
“Every single person in this group have had extreme loss,” said Cudlitz. “It is important to remember what brought us together. We never forget out losses, and we carry them with us.”
Another significant panel occurred between Lincoln and Morrissey, who were mortal enemies on set. Morrissey performed at the dictatorial Governor who attempted to kill Rick’s group in order to claim their territory. Morrissey interrupted Lincoln’s panel as a surprise guest and highly praised his co-worker by claiming that Lincoln “wanted everyone to be successful and never got jealous or mad when someone stole the spotlight.” Lincoln opened the panel by thanking the audience and urging them to continue being supportive.
“It is you guys who drive the bus,” said Lincoln. “We feed off your energy. This is the most ambitious and bold season yet, so keep watching.”
Lincoln added that the cast members are fans as well, which Morrissey heartily agreed to and admitted he is a huge fan of the show.
“I am very proud of my association with the show,” said Morrissey. “We get to meet up again and talk about it. We have a connection as a group.”
The final panel also involved Morrissey along with Scott Wilson. Wilson performed as the wise Hershel Greene, whom Morrissey killed in the finale of season four. The two men discussed their characters and how they developed over time.
“You never judge your character,” said Morrissey. “I always try to have empathy for them and understand them. As soon as I start judging them, they become one dimensional and fall flat.”
While the two also discussed Lincoln’s character being overcome with madness and the idea of power being “a terrible corrupting force,” they inserted some comedic moments. The last panel question involved how his character involved him for the apocalypse in real life.
“Stay away from people with eye patches,” said Wilson, referring to Morrissey’s iconic look.
Along with the 17 panels, over 140 vendors set up their shops throughout the convention area. Posters, dolls, samurai swords and jewelry were among the hundreds of items available for fans to buy. Other Walking Dead devotees were seen walking around in cosplay, whether it was a terrifying zombie or a bloodied Rick Grimes.