Discovering the Incredible World of Nerd HQ: Zac Levi’s Comic-Con Alternative

Every year fans flock to San Diego, California for the mecca of geek gasms: Comic-Con. Being an entrepreneurial opportunist and perhaps nerd-genius, spring-boarding off that worldwide phenomenon, star Zac Levi took his popularity and passion and channeled it into a convention that has paralleled Comic-Con for the past two years.

Creating his brainchild The Nerd Machine with the help of some like-minded celebs, friends and anyone with a kindred spirit, Zac created a world for nerds, geeks and fans to mingle and celebrate. In fact, Zac found a way to bringing all these fantastic worlds together for a special 4-day event known as Nerd HQ. This year, with over 18 “Conversations for a Cause” panels featuring the talents of such popculture stars as Joss Whedon, Stan Lee, Nathan Fillion, Damon Lindelof, and Jared Padalecki as well as featuring hot shows like DOCTOR WHO, CHUCK, PSYCH and GRIMM and film casts from EXPENDABLES 2 and TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN, the Nerd HQ event managed to showcase some of the year’s hottest celebs.

In addition to the must-attend panels, Nerd HQ served as a great place to meet-and-greet with fellow fans in the midst of nerd heaven with video games and other techno-geek toys on display for all to play with, sponsored by Xbox, Vizio Square Enix and Break Media. Conveniently nestled in the midst of a cavernous building built around a nightclub bar, the event takes on the aura of rockin’ relaxation.

But it is not all just fun and games, Nerd HQ sells tickets to its panels and donates a portion of its proceeds to the charity known as Operation Smile. As Zac Levi explains, it is the most fundamental thing that a person can do: smile. Yet many children and adults around the world are deprived of even that one simple pleasure due to birth defects or injuries that have disfigured them. It is his goal to make sure that everyone gets that chance at life – a chance to express simple joy and appreciation. Having raised over $10,000 per panel, it is estimated that this year’s Nerd HQ raised in excess of $250,000. That’s a lot more smiles bringing brought into the world!
To hear more about how Zac got involved with this amazing charitable endeavor, be sure to watch our exclusive video interview with him:

As this year’s Nerd HQ wrapped, everyone had the same impression and memories to share: it was the best year ever! No matter what panel was attended, which games were played, or which experience was to be had, everyone had the time of their lives. For CHUCK fans, it was a chance to celebrate and say “goodbye” to a show that ended a few months back with the cast and relive the joy that it brought to all.

For DOCTOR WHO fans, it was the moment Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill spontaneously sang Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” bringing the entire room to its feet with a roar of approval. For CASTLE and FIREFLY fans, it was the moment when both Nathan Fillion and Adam Baldwin rushed the stage to kiss Zac, much to the jaw-dropping surprise of everyone in attendance. For TWILIGHT fans, it was the chance to see their favorite stars after failing to get into the jam-packed ballroom at the convention center.

Whatever that moment was for each person, it is guaranteed that it happened at Nerd HQ. The environment is amenable to spontaneity, gaiety, and glee. It was mutual love-fest for all. With panels consisting of only 225 seats and perhaps another dozen or so standing in the back, it is a chance to be up-close and personal and stars and fans alike reveled in the opportunity.

Many also stuck around to party into the late night adding to the already exuberantly excited atmosphere. Friday and Saturday night at Nerd HQ were the hottest parties in town as Zac Levi and his friends brought down the house. Spotted attending were: FIREFLY’s Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES’ Julie Plec, Zach Roerig and Matt Davis, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA’s Michael Trucco and Tricia Helfer, CAPRICA’s Magda Apanowicz, STARGATE UNIVERSE’s David Blue, HART OF DIXIE’s Jaime King, THE FOLLOWING’s Shawn Ashmore, HAVEN’s Emily Rose and Eric Balfour, and many more.

If you have not yet had a chance to discover this wild and affectionate world of Nerd HQ, you are invited to learn more about it and participate in one of its events around the U.S. And be certain to mark your calendar to attend the 3rd annual Nerd HQ next year in San Diego, the same week as Comic-Con. It is time to discover what you have been missing – and trust me when I say, you have been missing a lot of fun!

Videos of the Nerd HQ panels can be seen HERE.

(Photo credit: Jennifer Schadel and Genevieve Collins.)

Tiffany Vogt is the Senior West Coast Editor, contributing as a columnist and entertainment reporter to She has a great love for television and firmly believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored – she invites you to join her. Please feel free to contact Tiffany at or follow her at on Twitter (@TVWatchtower).