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WonderCon Wrap-Up!

Longbox Graveyard #40

“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!


Longbox Bulletin!

Longbox Graveyard #36

Three senses-shattering news items for Longbox Graveyard readers in this week’s Longbox Bulletin!

Lois Lane gets the scoop — and so do you!

ITEM! Longbox Graveyard will be hosting a panel presentation at WonderCon!

While normally a San Francisco show, WonderCon is taking a one-year vacation to Disneyland while Moscone Center South undergoes renovation. Since this puts the show just up the freeway from me I will be attending — better yet, I will be presenting! My panel — Triumph of the Second Screen — is scheduled for Friday, 03/16/12, 4:30p.m. – 5:30p.m., in Room 208AB. We will be looking at some of the new and original intellectual properties coming out of the iPhone space, and while the panel primarily concerns the world of Apps (in my secret identity, I am a founding partner of iPhone publisher & developer Appy Entertainment), I hope any Longbox Graveyard readers attending the show will drop by and say hello. I plan to be at the show all day Friday and likely Saturday as well so there should plenty of time for us to get acquainted. Please attend my panel!

J. Jonah Jameson says get the story at Wondercon!

ITEM! Even if you can’t get out to WonderCon you can still hear the Voice of the Longbox thanks to the Stash My Comics Podcast!

Matt and Steve were kind enough to have me on the show so I could extoll the virtues of Silver Surfer #3! Click HERE to listen to the podcast … and leave the guys some feedback saying you’d like to hear more of my ravings in future podcasts so they will consent to have me back! And while you are over there, be sure to check out many articles and reviews at the Stash My Comics site, as well as the 100% free comics collection database service they provide!

Jimmy Olsen listens to Stash My Comics — and so should you!

ITEM! There’s a behind-the-scenes Longbox Graveyard interview over at Comic Book And Movie Reviews! My thanks to Jay for being a gracious host and giving yours truly the minor blogging celebrity treatment!

Mouse on over to Comic Book And Movie reviews to learn the sordid secret origin of Longbox Graveyard … then stick around to enjoy the cavalcade of news, views, and reviews on the site (which posts more content in a day than I can manage in a month).

Great Caesar’s Ghost, that’s a lot of content!

BONUS ITEM! And since we’re in a linking mood, let me close this Longbox Bulletin with a friendly plug for two of my favorite people.

Tom Mason is an old pal and long-time comic book collaborator, who has been kind enough to post some thoughtful comments here at Longbox Graveyard (his recent comments regarding the way Malibu comics structured their creator-friendly contracts are especially worth a read). Tom is funny, insightful, and a font of funnybook knowledge, and he frequently holds court over at Comix 411mouse on over and check out Tom’s column.

Last and NOT least, if you aren’t reading Mars Will Send No More, then you’re missing out on one of the most unique and eclectic corners of the comic book blogosphere. Whether he’s enthusing about dinosaurs, Jack Kirby, or cosmic heroes like Warlock, there’s always something interesting on the boil at Mars’ site, which features full-length comic book treasures from the Bronze Age era that I so esteem. Mars has been one of the earliest and most loyal supporters of Longbox Graveyard, and his site belongs in your reading rotation. Check him out today!

NEXT WEDNESDAY: #37 Panel Gallery: Steve Ditko’s Strange Faces

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