Zack Ward

Zack Ward

Alien monsters, magical warriors, androids and superheroes will arrive in Roanoke this weekend for the 10th year of MystiCon, the science fiction convention that congregates each winter at Holiday Inn Tanglewood. The event begins Friday and ends Sunday.

A last minute lineup change has given MystiCon a bit more of a seasonal theme than usual.

Canadian character actor Zack Ward, 49, is perhaps best known for his very first movie role. At age 13, he played the raccoon-hat wearing bully Scut Farkus in “A Christmas Story,” the quirky 1983 comedy based on the stories of radio personality Jean Shepherd that would become a holiday favorite despite being only a modest hit on initial release.

Fans of “A Christmas Story” might well want to ask Ward how that fateful whooping he took from Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) actually went down. Those who would rather talk sci-fi need not worry as Ward has plenty of bona fides. His busy career has included stints with the horror comedy “Z Nation,” and the more straightforward scares of “American Horror Story,” the monster movie mashup “Freddy vs. Jason” and the 2007 robot battle blockbuster “Transformers.” Other beloved shows like “The Outer Limits,” “Hill Street Blues,” “Party of Five,” “Deadwood,” “NCIS” and “Lost” appear on his long resume.

Ward takes the place of cancelled media guest Daniel Logan, who portrayed a junior high school-aged Boba Fett in the 2002 film “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones.”

Other guests of honor include California author Larry Niven, whose Hugo and Nebula Award-winning 1979 novel “Ringworld” is considered a science fiction classic, and Roanoke artist Jenn DePaola, who creates sci-fi and superhero-themed character portraits posed in the style of vintage pin-ups.

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