Wizard World St. Louis Comic-Con

Wizard World St. Louis 2016: Nerd For A Living Hosts 2 Speaker Panels

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Nerd For A Living at Wizard World St. Louis 2016

Wizard World St. Louis returns this April 1st-3rd. Nerd For A Living will be presenting two speaker panels at the show!

Wizard World conventions celebrate the best in pop culture, movies, television, cosplay, comics, toys, video gaming, sci-fi, gaming, original art, collectibles, and more. The 2016 St. Louis show features any absolutely amazing lineup of guests, including David Tennant, Matt Smith, Billie Piper, Charlie Cox, Elden Henson, Mike Colter, Jon Bernthal, Elizabeth Henstridge, James Marsters, William Shatner and many, many more.

Wizard World St. Louis runs Friday, April 1st through Sunday, April 3rd at the America’s Center. Nerd For A Living’s Wendy Buske and Adron Buske will be at the convention all three days, and will be presenting our speaker panels on Saturday and Sunday. Details below!

You can also come visit us on the exhibition floor at Artist Alley table D24.


Nerdtrepreneurs: Ladies Turning Fandoms into Careers

Saturday, April 2nd | 3:30-4:15pm | Room 130

Are you a passionate gamer looking to start your own studio? Or a crafter who wants to sell your awesome creations to others? This panel is for you! The nerd world has endless possibilities when it comes to stories and imagination – but it also offers a landscape where many can discover their inner-entrepreneur. This group of talented, creative women are some of the many who are forging their own career path through nerdy pursuits.

Join Wendy Buske (co-founder of Nerd For A Living), Fox Smith (actress, singer, president of Super Heroines, Etc.), Mary McKenzie (co-founder of indie game studio, Volcano Bean), Amanda Nuckolls (CEO of GnomeAcres) and more as they share advice with those looking to start their own nerdy business or pursuit.


How to Be a Nerd For A Living: Finding Your Career in Pop Culture

Sunday, April 3rd | 2:00-2:45pm | Room 130

Do you want to start a career in the ‘nerdy’ industry you love, but you’re not sure where to begin? Get advice on how to create a path to the career you want from those already doing it. This panel of professional ‘Nerds for a Living’ will share insights into a variety of careers that exist within comics, gaming, publishing, and more.

Join Rachael Stott (comic artist: The Twelfth Doctor Year 2; Star Trek/Planet of the Apes), Rick Burchett (comic artist: Batman; Wonder Woman, Lady Sabre), Ellie Ann (author: Slice of Life; The Silver Sickle), and Carol Mertz (co-founder: Happy Badger video game studio) as they share their experiences with moderator, Adron Buske (host, Nerd For A Living Podcast) – and with you. Learn about types of training, mentorship opportunities, and overall tools & tactics to employ when trying to get your foot in the door.


Guest Bios


Ellie Ann

Ellie Ann

Ellie Ann is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller of thrillers, science fiction, and comics. She is the author of Slice of Life: A Multimedia Fairy Tale and The Silver Sickle.

She was born in the jungles of Thailand, raised in a small farming village in Iowa, lived in the middle of a Texan desert, and now abides in the Ozarks. She gets nerd points for being home schooled, gets nerd points revoked for being a basketball jock in high school, and gets nerd points again for dressing as Aragorn for LOTR midnight showings.

Ellie writes fairy tales, science fiction, thrillers, and is seriously interested in interactive storytelling. She also wrote articles for the PACHE Homeschool Newsletter in the 7th grade. Not to brag, but her Mom totally LOVED her article about the Apple Orchard Field Trip and hung it up on their fridge.

She’s the creative editor for Stonehouse Ink and other bestselling clients. She has ghost written a series for a NYT bestseller. She writes comics for Motionworks Entertainment.

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Rick Burchett

Rick Burchett

Rick Burchett began his artistic career in St. Louis, and did his early professional comics work at First Comics, Pacific Comics, Capital Comics, and AC Comics. Moving to DC Comics (as well as the DC imprints Impact Comics and Vertigo), his first work for the company was on Blackhawk, followed by titles like Batman, The Flash, Superman, Black Hood, Wonder Woman, The Justice League, and Green Lantern.

Rick received the Eisner Award in 1996 with Paul Dini and Ty Templeton for his work on The Batman and Robin Adventures. He shared the Eisner Award again in 1999, with Templeton and Terry Beatty, for his work on Batman: The Gotham Adventures.

In 2006 he became the ongoing penciller on Marvel Comics’ She-Hulk with writer and former Batman Adventures collaborator Dan Slott. In 2011, he became the artist for The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold, the comic book tie-in to the Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated television series. Also in 2011, Burchett became the artist for the ongoing webcomic Lady Sabre and the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether, co-created with writer Greg Rucka.

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Mary McKenzie Kelly

Mary McKenzie

Mary McKenzie is a partner, producer, and game developer for St. Louis game development studio, Volcano Bean. Currently focused on casual mobile gaming, the studio’s games reflect its mission to bring together colorful art, all-ages whimsy, and accessible, engaging gameplay. Volcano Bean began making games in late 2014, with a team that comes from a variety of arts backgrounds including comics, web design and textile arts.

Mary and her husband, Gene Kelly, first professionally partnered to create a comics community website in 2012, before founding Volcano Bean along with longtime friend and fellow artist, Matt Seniour. Building games in tools like Unity and GameMaker Studio, the studio released their first game – Where’s My Goblin? – to iOS, Android, and Kindle in March 2015 to resoundingly positive feedback. Encouraged and excited by the experience, the studio began work on their second game, Sleepy Kraken. A whimsical tap n’ smash arcade style mobile app, Sleepy Kraken was released for iOS in December 2015, and recently launched on Android.

Mary began her career as a visual and textile artist, creating costumes for theater stage plays in New York City, along with fashion accessories for a NYC-based two-woman boutique company. Later, she worked in retail management before branching into entrepreneurial artist endeavors, before expanding her skills in the world of gaming.

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Carol Mertz

Carol Mertz

Carol Mertz became interested in games, design, and web development as a kid in the 90s – staying up late to code websites from scratch in Notepad, studying HTML books and dissecting other peoples’ source code. She began freelancing as a web and logo designer as early as 2002. She pursued a BA in Interactive Media from Webster University, where she learned the fundamentals of media production and animation.

After graduating, she co-founded St. Louis interactive studio The Rampant. Later, she discovered a real love for game development, so she and her Rampant teammates divided their studio efforts between interactive client work and game production as Happy Badger Studio. As a big part of a small independent studio, Carol does all sorts of creative work, including design, development, art, animation, voice acting, and writing. She’s worked on websites, mobile apps, comics, video games, card games, and a myriad of other creative projects. Carol and Happy Badger Studio are currently in development on a quest-based hovercraft racing game, SmuggleCraft, set to release in early 2016 for PS4, PC, Mac, and Linux.

Outside of work, Carol is the Chair of the St. Louis Game Developer Co-op, supporting the local indie games community by organizing networking and educational events, giving talks, and participating in mentorship events.

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Amanda Nuckolls

Amanda Nuckolls

Amanda Nuckolls, Founder and Chief Executive Gnome at GnomeAcres, has been making art using various mediums since the age of 3. She grew up in a family that owned an arts & crafts business and was often a regular contributor to the many products they offered. In 2009, after spending 20 years around llamas and alpacas, she decided she would obtain her first llama, “Oh My Darling, Clementine”. The acquisition of Clementine, combined with her lifelong love of the agricultural world, playing outside and “making stuff”, helped to spark the idea of GnomeAcres. When GnomeAcres came to fruition in late 2009, Amanda saw it as an opportunity to pursue her true passions.

Amanda has a background in website design, website development, e-commerce, online marketing, radio, newspaper, photography, woodworking, agriculture education, tractor riding and professional clowning. Because of her vast knowledge in these areas, all of GnomeAcres show displays, product packaging, promotional materials and websites are created in-house by Amanda herself.

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Fox Smith

Fox Smith

Actress, cosplayer, singer, model, and illustrator Fox Smith has been performing across St. Louis and throughout the midwest for over ten years. She joined her first band in 2004 as the singer and frontwoman. Although she was trained in classical opera, the band focused on original rock compositions and continued to write and play for the next four years. When the group parted ways, Fox took a brief hiatus during which she focused more heavily on her illustrative career and finished her education with a BFA from Washington University in St. Louis. From that point, she focused her musical efforts on blues and jazz and started a new group: Madam Fox and the Hounds.

As an actress, Fox has appeared in roles that range from a Vietnam War era nurse in A Piece of My Heart, to the Elven Queen in a stage adaptation of The Hobbit, to a love-lorn singing chef in a feature length original musical film, to a Japanese American woman dealing with the fallout of the Pearl Harbor bombing in the world premier of White to Gray. She has continued to act in various short films and has performed with some of the top acting and musical talent in St. Louis.

In 2013, fate struck when Fox attended her first comic convention. An avid gamer, anime/animation connoisseur, and comic lover she was thrilled when she discovered that intricate costumes weren’t limited to Halloween. She thrust her self headlong into the fantastic world of cosplay and became heavily involved in the Geek Feminism initiative.

Fox is the President of Super Heroines, Etc., a 501(c)3 non profit whose mission is to empower women to embrace their inner nerd. She is actively pursuing her acting career and looks forward to continue telling stories in new and interesting ways.

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Rachael Stott

Rachael Stott

Rachael Stott is a comic book artist and illustrator based in London. An alumni of Birmingham City University, she graduated with a BA in Visual Communication specializing in Illustration. She creates work based around a wide variety of subject matter, in many different styles, although her personal work reflects her interest in pop culture and media.

She broke into comics in December 2014 with her first project for comics publisher IDW, the Star Trek/Planet of the Apes crossover written by Scott and David Tipton.

Rachael is currently the artist for Titan Comics’ Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor – Year 2 comic, and has contributed to the Tenth Doctor ongoing series, as well as mini-series for the Eighth and Ninth Doctors.

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