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NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Halloween may be over, but zombies, vampires and super heroes are descending on New Orleans for this weekend's Wizard World Comic Con convention.

World Wrestling Entertainment champion CM Punk said participating in Comic Con is 'like recess at school.'

The Chicago native will greet fans at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Saturday to autograph action figures and copies of the Marvel comic book series 'Avengers vs. X-Men.' He wrote the introduction for the new 12-issue comic book series.

The Comic Con opens Friday at 4 p.m. and continues through Sunday. Comic book icon Stan Lee, 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' star Eliza Dushku and dozens of other celebrities will greet fans -- many of whom where costumes. The event is expected to lure in countless 'trekkies' with a 25th anniversary reunion of the cast of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' on Saturday.

The follow-up to the original 'Star Trek' ran for seven seasons between 1987 and 1994 and garnered more than a dozen Emmys. Actors Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis and others are scheduled to participate in the reunion event but will also be greeting fans at various times all three days.

'We want to bring the fans what they want, and what they want is to see their favorite celebrities,' said John Macaluso, chief executive officer of Wizard World Inc., the company producing the event. 'We try to bring in as many celebrities as we can.'

Among them are actor Michael Madsen, who has had roles in the movies 'Reservoir Dogs,' 'Donnie Brasco' and 'Kill Bill,' and Dean Cain, star of television's 'Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.'

There will also be more than 100 comic book artists and writers of such series as 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,' 'Green Lantern,' 'Captain America,' 'Hulk,' 'Daredevil' and 'Wolverine.'

Stars of the AMC series 'The Walking Dead' will be on hand to sign autographs. The show airs on Sundays and is based on the popular comic book of the same name about a group of survivors in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse.

'Our fans are very, very passionate, and there's no telling what you're going to get,' said Jon Bernthal, the actor who played deputy Shane Walsh, a character killed off during the show's second season.

Bernthal said he expects to see many zombie costumes as he greets fans this weekend with actors Michael Rooker and Norman Reedus, who play the still-living Dixon brothers on the series.

Many who attend Comic Con enjoy dressing in costume. It's part of the fun, Macaluso said.

'People who come to Comic Con come to be around people of like mind,' he said. 'Our fans get to interact with friends, with fellow geeks and fellow nerds. It's a good time, and we get to make people happy.'

The next Wizard World convention is in Portland, Maine, Feb. 22-24.

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Online:

Wizard World: http://www.wizardworld.com

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