Ravenous, animated corpses are not why “The Walking Dead” captivates viewers, according to super-fan Eric Nordhoff, who believes the TV show’s true appeal comes from watching relatable characters make agonizing moral decisions.
“It’s not just about the zombies,” Nordhoff says, “You find yourself asking what you would do in these situations.”
Fans can ask “Walking Dead” actors how it feels to portray the characters making those decisions when Nordhoff’s Walker Stalker Con comes to Fort Mason this weekend, with good timing, just before a new episode airs on Feb. 8.
Cast members confirmed for the event include David Morrissey (The Governor), Steven Yuen (Glen), Chandler Riggs (Carl), Emily Kinney (Beth), Laurie Holden (Andrea), and Tyler James Williams (Noah).
Executive producer and lead on special effects Greg Nicotero, and voice actress Melissa Hutchison, who plays Clementine in the “Walking Dead” video game, also will attend, as well as some non-”The Walking Dead” artists, including cast members from “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund.
Nordhoff and event co-producer James Frazier never expected to be in the sci-fi/horror convention business when they visited the set of “The Walking Dead” in 2012, during the last day of filming the show’s third season. So energized by the experience, they launched “The Walker Stalkers” podcast, gaining a loyal following on iTunes.
Then they organized a meet-up and viewing party for the final episode of that season in Senoia, Ga., where the show is filmed. The event attracted about 100 people. The next meet up, for the fourth season premiere, garnered about 600 attendees.
When Nordhoff and Frazier decided to organize a truly big fan event in Atlanta, they expected about 1,000 people; the turnout was closer to 10,000. Walker Stalker Con is now held seven times a year around the U.S.
The San Francisco Fort Mason convention will have plenty of vendors on hand, along with cosplayers, photo ops and panel discussions with the celebrities. And while “The Walking Dead” often deals with mature themes, Frazier says the convention strives to be family-friendly, offering games, activities and zombie face-painting for kids.
Despite the unexpected popularity of their podcast and the fair, Frazier and Nordhoff say they’re still the devotees they’ve always been. “We’re just as excited to see these cast members as you are,” Nordhoff says. “We’re just fans. We love the show.”
IF YOU GO
Walker Stalker Con
Where: Fort Mason Center, Marina Boulevard and Buchanan Street, S.F.
When: 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $35 to $45