TODAY'S FEATURE IS BLOG #3624 - My first WonderCon - and Wondercon's first jaunt to SoCal - was super-mellow. Now that's an oxymoron for you. Let me explain: If you took San Diego Comic Con, slashed attendance by 75% and The Scarecrow gassed the convention center with an airborne version of Xanax, you'd have WonderCon 2012.
Maybe it was because we were next door to the Happiest Place on Earth, but these folks were the most laid-back Comic-Conners I've ever seen. No rushing, no pushing, no seat jumping, no pens to the eye. That said, this was the first Con (in 10+ years of Cons) where I've had anything stolen. Sadly, someone swiped my prized Fringe Lenticular luggage tag while I was in the big Ballroom on Saturday. Said villian even had the nerve to tuck the tie back into my case! May he/she spend the rest of their sorry days encased in amber.
Michael and I attended all three days: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Here are my random thoughts on WonderCon 2012 (Anaheim):
Blame It on the Rain. WonderCon 2012 will be best remembered for the deluge that was Saturday and the misery it wrought on this most-attended day. Whether you walked from your hotel or drove over an hour or more (me) to get there, you got wet. Correction, you got drenched. Now realize, I lived over 20 years in New Jersey, I know from rain. This rain was positively Biblical. I was wearing a real rain coat (from my NJ days) and it leaked! Worst of all the rains wrecked havoc on an already shaky parking situation. We exited the freeway about 9:15 am only to spend the next 75 minutes crawling the blocks around the convention area searching for parking. We ended up at the Happiest Place on Earth's "Toy Story" lot which kindly honored the convention parking rate. Unfortunately, this was the moment the skies decided to open with a vengeance. We tried to wait it out, but it would not let up. So we hoofed it about a mile to the convention center arriving with drenched feet and clothes - despite a raincoat and umbrella! I kept wondering, what did the WonderCon folks do to piss off Storm ?
Hall of Horrors. It's hard to imagine that Comic Con International was seriously considering moving SDCC to Anaheim Convention Center. The shallow foyers, small bathrooms and two tiny escalators could never accomodate the SDCC hordes. While WonderCon only had Exhibit Hall D, Con goers spread out the length of the convention center foyer crowding the shallow space and making walking difficult. Fans had no place to hang out with their friends. On the plus side, the convention center staff kept those too-small bathrooms clean and the exhibit floor was configured with wide aisles which eased traffic - a welcome respite from the frustrating standstills, pushing and near-riots on the SDCC floor.
And Now for Something Completely Different. Whoever recommended the Ballroom panel for "Sound of My Voice" needs to have their duties reassigned. Like most, I figured I'd suffer through it in between Trailer Park and Prometheus. And suffer we did. First we were 'treated' to the first inane 12 minutes of the film which included a multi-part 'secret handshake'. Note to film makers: whenever the screening audience bursts out laughing during the serious part of your film, you need to cut. That was 12 minutes of my life that I'll never get back. But wait, it gets worse - two of the actors then came out in character to 'invite' us to their Exhibit Hall booth to join their wacky little cult. At this point, the laughing turned into snorting and uncomfortable silence. But still, this looney and indulgent panel droned on! Next we endured the ramblings of the two people responsible for this drivel as they answered questions from a PR shrill and planted Q&A. While we prayed for deliverance, it became obvious: WonderCon ain't Sundance and Sound of My Voice ain't Blair Witch.
MIA. On the plus side, the Exhibit Hall featured tons of comic book resellers, toys, t-shirt vendors and booths for tons of stuff I have no idea what it was. If you visited an ATM recently, you probably went home with some cool loot. If you were looking for exclusives or were hoping to score some swag, you were disappointed. Aside from the very cool and very popular HBO/Game of Thrones booth where fans could get their heads impaled on a spike, there really weren't any fun experiential booths. Hollywood was essentially MIA.
Of course, this meant more time for Con goers to connect with comic book artists and writers at various booths. WonderCon gave fans plenty of opportunity to get up close and personal with their comic book gods - and, really, isn't that what a comic convention is all about?
Grade for this Con? It's a VERY FINE FINUS (VF-) 7.5 out of a possible 10.0 comic book grade.
(Note: Also, here is the link to the special photo album at my Facebook fan page for the pics taken at the WonderCon 2012! ~Michael D Hamersky On Comics )
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