There are a lot of words that can be used to describe Walker Stalker Con, but the one we chose sums the weekend up entirely, serves as the basis of what brought the convention to life, and is what each artist in the building exuded from start to finish – passion.
Walker Stalker Con isn’t just a convention, it’s an experience.
It was made by fans for fans as a place to come together to celebrate The Walking Dead as well as some of the best in horror and sci-fi film and television. If you’re a fan of the undead, gore, and of course – lots of blood – you’ll find yourself feeling right at home at Walker Stalker.
One thing we didn’t exactly expect to leave this weekend with was inspiration – but it’s what we got, and in abundance. We laughed, we were entranced, and we were inspired by the people we look up to – and above all that, we found so many more reasons to look up to them.
From Ian Somerhalder’s charity foundation – and his incredibly driven and giving heart, to some advice Tom Payne gave his fans without even realizing he’d done it; inspiration was everywhere you looked within the walls of Music City Center.
“No one upsets me, I choose to be upset about something” – Tom Payne
The overwhelming gratitude and compassion from the stars towards the fans who make their lives possible was easy to sense. From the moment you walked down the hall and made your way under the Walker Stalker entrance until the moment the doors closed in Nashville, you felt like you were part of a large family – and after speaking to James – that’s exactly what the goal was.
We were lucky enough to meet some of the most amazing celebrities, sit at panels discussing their television shows, and even snap photos with a few of them during the process. From The Walking Dead and Vampire Diaries, to Fear The Walking Dead and Bates Motel – we enjoyed hearing about the storylines of our favorite characters from the people who play them.
If you attend Walker Stalker, you’ll also be given the opportunity to learn about a way you can help make the world a better place through an initiative started up by Ian Somerhalder – The Ian Somerhalder Foundation.
Ian’s foundation “aims to empower, educate and collaborate with people and projects to positively impact the planet and its creatures.”
His compassionate message was made clear multiple times through his time at the convention, he’s a truly inspiring human.
In addition to the celebrities and panels through the convention’s weekend, there were rows of booths that had a lot more zombie and horror to go around. You could do everything from becoming a zombie thanks to special effects make up, to the buying merchandise to commemorate your weekend, and even checking out artists that helped bring some of your favorite zombie/sci-fi characters to life in a different way. There was a place for every type of fan the convention opened it’s doors to – and it was incredible to see them all come together.
We stopped by AJ Moore’s booth first after being drawn in by an incredible piece of art featuring Negan from The Walking Dead and were blown away by his talent throughout. Every piece of art he had on display was incredible, from TWD to Doctor Who and everything in between – his passion for his craft was easy to see.
AJ said he didn’t remember a time when he wasn’t drawing, he’d done it for his entire life. He watched a lot of cartoons when he was young and that’s where he drew his inspiration from, as he got older that inspiration came from other television, film, and video games he was interested in. He credits his brother to being part of his talent too, he’s given him some ideas for pieces in the past.
His favorite piece so far is ‘Horror Slashers’ – an incredible piece of a few of the best horror movie bad guys of our time.
“It’s the only piece I’ve done so far that came out exactly how I imagined it would in my mind” – AJ said of the artwork.
On the topic of horror and bad guys, AJ said something that rings true to every story, film, or show you’ve watched with a protagonist and antagonist.
“There must be a great villain in order for there to be a great hero“
AJ attended San Antonio University of Incarnate Word and worked as an animator, he also writes children’s books. Make sure you check out his Facebook page – you won’t be disappointed.
On top of booths that held incredible memorabilia, there were a couple events you could take part in that threw you right into a zombie apocalypse and turned on your fight or flight response.
In Apocalypse, you are given a chance to be part of a live action zombie slaying experience. You’re put through the mini maze and given full weight FBI/military replica rifles to take down zombies with, it’s incredible! If you’ve watched zombie tv you know to aim for the head, watch your surroundings, and avoid infection at all costs – use these skills to make it through the maze and you’ll come out alive.
During The Walking Dead Experience you’re put directly into the zombie apocalypse and it’s more frightening than you might expect. The scene is the first night of the apocalypse and we don’t want to ruin anything for you, but be prepared to scream and deal with a different type of fear than you might be anticipating – it stays with you even after you exit the experience.
If you’re lucky enough to live close to a city where Walker Stalker will visit, or even if you’re not that close at all, you should make a plan to get to a convention – you’ll enjoy every moment.
For a more in depth look at the panels and some of our celebrity stories, stay tuned for our second article on Walker Stalker Con Nashville.