TODAY'S FEATURE IS BLOG #3823 - Anaheim's Convention Center transformed itself into the Happiest Place on Earth for comic book fans and pop culture geeks this past weekend. For the second year in a row, WonderCon invaded Disney's backyard with 40-50,000 collectors, fans in comic book T-shirts, zombies, girls in Tardis dresses, cosplayers galore, more Anime characters than I'll ever know, and a parade of food trucks.
Folks were indeed happy. They strolled around in costume, bought comics and collectibles, took pictures of their friends and favorite cosplayers, met comic book artists and writers like Jim Steranko, Brent Anderson, and Jim Lee, asked exceedingly esoteric questions, caught movie and tv panels for entertainment like Pacific Rim, Evil Dead and Arrow and previewed new games like Capcom's Remember Me.
When they needed a break from all the fun (which was early for a lot of folks!), they hung out in the sun, listening to live music and enjoying the cosplay parade and food truck offerings.
Invariably talk turned to how different this Con is from San Diego Comic-Con (even though it's run by the same folks). For me, it seemed like half the people I talked with had never been to SDCC or hadn't gone in several years. Yet, they'd heard the horror stories about the crowds, and even "pens to the eye."
This optimistic little (by comparison) group resoundingly preferred WonderCon Anaheim to SDCC, whether they'd ever gone or not. Their hope was that WonderCon would continue to do well and stay in Anaheim. Of course, continuing to do well means more attendees.
Let's not delude ourselves, folks. As attendance rises, so will the long lines, camping, frustration and plain old pushing and shoving and mob group dynamic that categorizes today's San Diego Comic-Con. As more consumers attend, more Hollywood productions will want to get in front of them with campers-only preview panels and ginormous exhibit hall displays. The vicious cycle repeats and pretty soon, we're at Fire Marshall capacity.
Warnings aside, here's one girl's eye view of WonderCon 2013:
Exhibit hall: Unlike SDCC, organizers let attendees into the Hall early each day - sometimes by as much as 40 minutes catching many exhibiters off guard. Longest lines were for collectibles (no surprise), comic book artist signings, and Stan Lee who was signing on Saturday. Happy to see lots of comic book dealers (we bought a bunch) and plenty of room for artist alley and small press booths.
Programming: Fans had little trouble getting into panels. Lots of repeats from SDCC. A high percentage of programming for artists and writers looking to break in and break out, albeit the same number of these as at SDCC. Because there was so much less programming (than SDCC) the WonderCon industry panels seemed heavy on the schedule. Pop culture fans enjoyed a smattering of tv and movie panels with little trouble getting and no need to camp out in the sun. I enjoyed panels for Arrow, Falling Skies, The Nerdist, and CBS's new summer series Under the Dome (based on the Stephen King novel - look for my review in an upcoming blog).
Registration: Friday seemed rather crazy with fans snaking a path around the front and side of the Convention Center. But folks seemed ok with it. We were grateful to have professional passes waiting for us - a registration version of the HOV lanes we sped up to get there in the first place!
Parking: We didn't hear a lot of complaints. The weather was good unlike last year's deluge that turned the search for parking into a nightmare for all. Personally, we much prefer parking at SDCC which is pre-paid so you know you have a spot - and hopefully underneath the Convention Center so it's MUCH easier to haul out all that loot.
Hotels: we commute, but our informal survey of attendees gave the nod to Anaheim on hotel accomodations for ease of acquiring compared to the crap shoot known as SDCC hotel registration day, and on price.
What made this girl smile?
Arrow panel -- what eye candy, sans that Lex Luther lookalike exec producer!
Scott Shaw's Oddball Comics -- if you've never seen it, you must!
TV Guide's showrunner panel -- interesting for pop culture fans and a great send-off for TWD's Glen Mazzara. Props to LA bureau chief Michael Schneider for dedicating the closing question to Mazzara.
Watching Jim Lee draw and answer fans' crazy questions at the same time. Who says men can't multi-task?
The Nerdist -- I don't think Michael got any of it, but Hardwick cracked me up, fun to see him live.
Under the Dome -- looks kinda cool to me and I'm NOT a Stephen King fan, more later.
Falling Skies -- they left the major acting guns home, but the preview reel hooked us all over again.
Seeing The History Channel's Vikings for the first time -- man, those HC fans are rabid...probably doesn't hurt that the cast is so smoking!
See you next at Long Beach Comic Book Expo,
-- Tina LoSasso
Note from Michael: I'll be posting the photos that I took at WonderCon at my Facebook Fan Page: Michael D Hamersky On Comics! There will be at least four photo albums uploaded, which may take a while.
Plus I will be uploading the videos that Tina and I shot as well. Those will also be uploaded to my Facebook Fan Page, as well as at my YouTube Channel, HamerskyOnComics.
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