“I’m coming back every year!”
That’s what my pal (and sometimes Longbox Graveyard collaborator) Chris Ulm said when he and I walked through the doors of the Anaheim Convention Center last Friday, the first day of this year’s WonderCon. It was like we’d been transported back in time twenty years, to when you could enjoy the San Diego Comic-Con without calling in the Scoops.
With WonderCon displaced from San Francisco for a year, my hope was that it would be Comic-Con Junior — the same content and professional organization as Comic-Con, but with a fraction of the crowds. And that’s pretty much exactly what I got. The aisles were wide, the crowds were manageable, the dealers’ floor was full of geeky swag, you could walk into any panel you liked, and you could actually run into friends old and new and just hang out and talk comics.
You know … pretty much everything San Diego Comic-Con is not these days …
the line-up just to get IN to Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con … practically larger than WonderCon attendance all by itself
Complaining about geek convention attendance ranks right up there with whinging about John Carter in the “first world problems” department, but hear me out. The iconic San Diego Comic-Con is facing crowing issues that in the past threatened to drive the show out of San Diego for Las Vegas or (ahem) Anaheim. Last year, San Diego programming space was expanded to include several area hotels, but line-ups for Hall H were still an all-night affair, and the dealer area was packed so tightly that I feared for a fire, an earthquake, or just a stampede if someone dropped a box of Twinkies.
How we can (or should) fix Comic-Con is a separate column, but WonderCon this weekend did provide a glimpse of what a better version of Comic-Con might be — most of the nerd with just a fraction of the herd. On Friday, especially, it was a breeze to get around the venue, and even at its most crowded Saturday peak, the dealer floor was nothing like the frantic scrum San Diego experiences on an “exclusive” preview night.
something you never see at San Diego Comic-Con — a largely EMPTY aisle!
Unfortunately, this Geek Utopia is only for a single year, as there is every reason to suppose WonderCon will return to its San Francisco venue in 2013. I have no desire to rob Northern California of their signature show, but if this weekend proves profitable for the con committee and merchants (who may not view lower foot traffic as such a wonderful thing), then we might see a move to get a second show going here in Southern California on a permanent basis. Given the choice between San Diego Comic-Con and another WonderCon in Anaheim, I’d take Anaheim in a heartbeat, even though it’s fifty miles further from my house and requires that I get a hotel room.
The kids in our clan had a fine time, which was most of the reason for going.
geeks — the next generation!
I do think the show was more lightly-attended than the committee would have liked. The Quick Draw panel — which has cartoonists improvising in real time — was billed as a “standing room only” event, but we breezed right in.
great seats for Quick Draw
On Friday, poor Michael Golden gave his workshop to about a dozen people in a room designed to hold five hundred (but soldiered on like a pro). Meanwhile across the hall, I was moderating my own “Triumph of the Small Screen” panel with my pals and partners from Appy Entertainment.
Hosting a con panel is even less glamorous than I’ve made it look here, but the guys did all right.
panelists Chris Ulm, Farzad Varahramyan, and Emmanuel Valdez of Appy Entertainment
Our audience started off as a friends-and-family affair but more folks trickled in as we went along, and by the end we had an energetic room shouting out questions about the future of apps as a platform for launching new intellectual properties.
For me, the highlight of the panel was meeting frequent Longbox Graveyard commentator Horace Austin …
Horace and your humble narrator!
I also got to briefly meet “Superherologist” Dr. Travis Langley, and reconnect with old comics pals like Jim Chadwick and Dave Olbrich, who promised me that he’d write at least one new column over at Funny Book Fanatic this year!
The dealers’ floor was the usual mix of trash and treasure, and I do admit to a certain “seen-it-all-before” weariness at this point (I know, more “first world problems.”) Most of the back issue dealers priced their wares as if they’d never heard of this thing called “the internet,” and even crappy books like the 1970s Marvel Godzilla series were priced in the double digits. I confined myself to picking up a couple half-priced Super-Villain Team-Ups, filling in holes in this legendarily good “bad” comic series.
I continued my fruitless search for superhero shirts. Sure, there are plenty of T-shirts, but I don’t do T-shirts. Would it kill them to put collars and buttons on these things?
Fortunately the lovely wife of the Longbox Graveyard is just fine with tees.
Batgirl has never looked better!
And there were some nifty geek robes, too … I was tempted by a Star Trek robe, and my little guy Jack scored a Tardis robe.
Mid-way through Saturday, my lads decided they’d had enough — the geek blood has run thin — and so we hit the road an hour or two early and bid WonderCon goodbye, but not before our nerd itch had been well and deeply scratched. Just the same, I’m probably still on the hook to take the kids to Comic-Con in July … unless there’s an announcement that WonderCon will return to Anaheim next year!
NEXT WEDNESDAY: #41 Flashback 1956!
- WonderCon 2013, A Comics, Pop Culture, Sci-Fi & Fantasy Convention in Anaheim, California (laughingsquid.com)
- Falling Skies Invades WonderCon (seattlepi.com)
- 2013 San Diego Comic-Con Badges Completely Sell Out in 90 Minutes; Plus We Speculate on Possible Hall H Panels (collider.com)
- Mattel Announces A 2013 San Diego Comic-Con Exclusive – A Six-Inch Batusi Batman Figure (firewireblog.com)
- NBC’s ‘Hannibal’ To Screen At WonderCon, Plus Previews Of ‘Pacific Rim’, ‘Mortal Instruments’, A Peek At ‘Hobbit 2′ & More (deadline.com)