- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fear not, Hogwarts junkies.

Yes, the release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2” marks the end of a cinematic era — eight films, 10 years, $6 billion and counting in worldwide ticket sales.

But that doesn’t mean your fantasy fix is about to vanish like an invisibility cloak.

Take it from the Trekkies and the ‘Star Wars’ nerds; they’ve been there.

“The effect of ‘Harry Potter’ will be felt long after the movies are over,” said Daryl Frazetti, a California-based university lecturer and expert on the cultural anthropology of “Star Trek” fandom. “The franchise will be alive. It’s too large a culture. You don’t just deconstruct it easily.”

A wise man — probably William Faulkner; possibly the people who keep making “Saw” movies — once said, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” The same holds true for beloved movie and book franchises. If the examples of “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” are any guide, the greater Potterverse figures to live long and prosper, well after the last film boards Charon’s ferry to its Blu-ray afterlife.

Herewith, some advice for coping with loss and tending the flame of memory — grief counseling for mourning muggles:

Come together: Mourners have wakes. Nerds — we mean that in a nice way — have conventions, where fanboys and girls can make friends, swap stories, debate canon, play dress-up — and enrich franchise actors’ IRAs via paid autograph signings.

The first “Star Trek” conventions took place in the early 1970s, a byproduct of a letter-writing campaign to keep the original ratings-challenged television series on the air. The crusade failed. But the meet-ups themselves were a huge success, spawning a global cottage industry that today encompasses dozens of annual events — a Las Vegas “Trek” soiree regularly draws 15,000 — and countless eye-popping costumes, including Vulcan fire dancers (red cape, matching bikini) and green-body-painted Orion slave girls.

Eric Geller, a “Star Wars” fanatic and 20-year-old college student from Bethesda, advises “Potter” fans to follow suit. Maybe not literally.

“Personally, I would never wear a costume,” said Mr. Geller, who manages social media for a popular “Star Wars” fan website. “But people at conventions do some amazing things. The best example is the 501st Legion, a group of guys in stormtrooper costumes. They do charity events. They do droid hunts.”

Droid hunts?

“You play a droid, and if they catch you, you’re entered into a lottery for cool prizes,” Mr. Geller explained. “Conventions aren’t just sitting around talking about your favorite scene and looking back. You’re in the moment, finding new ways to enjoy the movies.”

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