The rise of a Walking Dead convention
It all started back in Atlanta in November 2013 when two fans of The Walking Dead staged a convention dedicated to the TV series following a memorable road trip to check out where the series was filmed.
Attorney James Frazier and his pal Eric Nordhoff turned this “dream” trip into a popular podcast and then a multi-city series of fan conventions that, six years later, has spread to eight events in three countries... as well as a Walker Stalker cruise from Tampa, Florida, to Nassau in the Bahamas.
After seeing something on Twitter about the final night of filming in season three being shot in Senoia, Georgia, only three-and-a-half hours from where they lived, the pair decided to go down to check it out in the hope of seeing some of the show's stars.
At the time they just put up barricades around the set and fans could walk up to them or stand on the opposite corner from filming. The pair waited at a few locations, drove around the area a bit then got wind that Andrew Lincoln — who plays Rick in the series — was probably going to be filming that evening.
So that night the pair got to watch them film the final scene of season three where Rick, Daryl and Michonne come to the gates of Woodbury, and Tyrese and Sasha let them in (if you follow the series that'll all make sense).
The pair just sat in a coffee shop and watched filming less than 20 feet away... with the actors just coming in and out of the coffee shop to hang out.
They had an amazing experience and got to meet Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Melissa McBride and other stars of the show, just chatting away with them as part of a very small gathering, probably 20 people, inside the coffee shop.
When they returned home Frazier wrote about the experience on his legal blog and his readership went from 80 to 800. That pushed the pair to start the Walker Stalker podcast, which included episode recaps and soon drew guests such as TWD producer and director Greg Nicotero and cast member Michael Rooker.
The growing popularity of the podcast led to a couple of fan meetups, and then the friends decided to try to fund a larger, more formal Walking Dead convention, raising finance through Kickstarter, to be held in Atlanta in November 2013.
They needed US$15,000 for their initial venue deposit and with the financials in place they went about finalising cast appearances for the 2013 WSC Atlanta... and with a little help from someone they’d met on the set during their trip to Senoia they managed to get almost the entire cast to show up.
Six years later and Walker Stalker will be in Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Nashville, Phoenix and New Jersey in 2019, with trips outside the United States to London and Berlin.
But, following a cancellation in Portland at the start of the month, first on the agenda is that cruise from Tampa to Nassau from 21-25 February when 2,500 fans will join guests McBride, Chandler Riggs, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Khary Payton, Alanna Masterson, David Morrissey, Tom Payne, Cooper Andrews, Seth Gilliam, Ross Marquand, Laurie Holden, Sarah Wayne Callies, Michael Traynor and Cailey Fleming on board the Norwegian Pearl for photo ops, autograph sessions, live music, eerie theme nights and wild activities.
Then Walker Stalker is off to Berlin from 23-24 March at the ExpoCenter City when guests will include Rooker, Riggs, Morgan, Payton, Masterson, Andrews, Morrissey, Marquand, Gilliam and Payne, as well as Christian Serratos, Josh McDermitt, Katelyn Nacon, Michael Cudlitz and Pollyanna McIntosh.
Next up is ExCeL London from 30-31 March, followed by Chicago (19-21 April), Cleveland (3-4 August), Nashville (24-25 August) and Phoenix (14-15 September).
The seventh edition of Walker Stalker in Atlanta runs from 18-20 October, with New Jersey from 7-8 December.
For more information about Walker Stalker events visit the website.