On Sunday March 18, I traveled to Anaheim, CA for the comic convention known as WonderCon. Normally held in San Francisco, this year it was moved because the convention center in SF is being renevated. Although the big day of any con is Saturday, I attended Sunday because of family obligations (shakes fist at child who just had birthday) but I believe I had a more enjoyable experience because of it (retracts fist-shaking).
I had not been to the Anaheim Convention Center since the depressing, melancholy farce that was Wizard World in 2010. Because of this, I had my trepidations, but they were erased the second I saw Artist’s Alley. For those unawares, Artist’s Alley is where artists ranging from big names such as Humberto Ramos and J. Scott Campbell to independent upstarts can sell original works and market themselves. The Alley at Wondercon was several rows deep, and had artists for every taste and wallet size. Alot of the original works were ridiculous in price ($2,000-5,000), but most artists had prints available for $5-20.
Unlike San Diego Comic Con, which has leaned more towards Hollywood every year, this con had comics at the forefront, and comics and comic related endeavors dominated the convention floor. WonderCon reminded me of what San Diego was like 10 years ago. Also, much like the San Diego of yesteryear, I was able to purchase my ticket the day of the event simply by walking up to the ticket booth. Parking was no hassle either, as we were forced to park down the street at Angel Stadium, but busses ran nearly constantly to take us to the convention.
As I mentioned, the con floor was flush with comics merchandise, and navigating the floor was relatively easy, as I did not have to fight my way through a sea of nerds to get from A to B. There was the perfect amount of people at the con; enough to fill the place and make it lively, but not somany that you choke on the stench of fanboys.
I really enjoyed the con, and below I’ve listed some personal highlights. I think next year, if the event is moved back to San Francicso, I will drive up and attend.
1. Steampunk: I am not a reader of steampunk or fan really, but I find the outfits very aesthetically pleasing, and very intriguing, and steampunk enthusiasts were aplenty. There were a couple booths peddling gear, and if I had $1,000 to blow, I would have been very tempted to pick up an entire clockwork outfit.
2. The panels. I only attended two panels, but both were excellent. The first panel I attended was in one of the side rooms, and was a Q&A with Humberto Ramos, who is currently drawing Spiderman. There were no more than 50 people in the room, so it was a very intimate setting. Mr. Ramos talked about his growing up in Mexico City, where he still resides, and gave us an inside view of what his professional life is currently like. He was insightful, polite, and a gracious host.
The second panel I attended was for Community on NBC, and was in the grand ballroom. The ballroom was full, but again, we just walked in and took a seat; no line at all. The panel started with a full episode of Community, which will be airing in the near future.That was followed by a Q&A with some cast members, writers, and show creator Dan Harmon. The Q&A was rushed because the panels had been behind all day in the ballroom, and they had to get the last panel started, but what we got to see was very funny.
3. Geek Chic: purveyors of fine wooden gaming tables, these pieces of hardware will set you back $3-5000, and take 6-8 months to build. Lucky for me, they also sell wooden weapons (swords, hammers, knives, wands,etc.) and I purchased a katana for $25. I’m not sure why I bought the sword; perhaps a deep-rooted desire to LARP? I just know I wanted it, and $25 was a great price.
4. Russell: There were plenty of con-goers in costume, including stormtroopers, boba fett-esque bounty hunters, Adventure Time characters, and many others. However, the one costume that truly brought a smile to my face was Russell from the Pixar film Up. I saw two people dressed as Russell, but one of them had in down pat, and was Russell in the flesh.
5. Lastly, Kris Straub: Mr. Straub produces two comics online that I regularly read, Starslip and Chainsawsuit. He is also, along with Scott Kurtz, one of the funniest duos on the internet. Mr. Straub had a booth at the con, and I spent quite some time chatting with him. He answered all my questions with a smile, and was very polite and professional, a quality that tends to get lost these days. Also, his wares were reasonably priced, so I bought a pair of books from him, which he signed and sketched in.