After 25 years as a Northern California fixture, the long-running convention WonderCon made its Southern California debut last weekend in Anaheim, with decidedly mixed results.
One thing’s for sure: any of the long-running scuttlebutt about Anaheim being a suitable substitute venue for WonderCon can be easily dismissed at this point. Not only were hotels as hard to get as in San Diego, with Disneyland always pulling away a substantial amount of rooms no matter what time of year, but WonderCon wasn’t the only event taking place at the Anaheim Convention center over the weekend, with a high-school girls’ volleyball tournament and junior-high cheerleading competition also taking place. While this did make for some amusing photo opportunities as the three groups mingled over the course of the three days (as one volleyball mom said to me, “Your show looks like a lot more fun”), the overall effect was brutal. With only four tiny food stands in the Hilton’s food court, only three equally small ones inside, and very few restaurants within walking distance, getting a meal was downright brutal. I think I waited an hour for a food-court hamburger.
As bad as the food situation was, parking was worse. With the convention center so busy, WonderCon parking was mostly relegated to either a shopping mall two blocks away, or Angel Stadium, which is considerably farther, and with shuttles running every half an hour. Which resulted in lots of folks waiting in the rain in the worst winter storm Southern California has seen all year for over an hour. Poor Kevin Eastman (Ninja Turtles creator, for those not in the know) wound up being over an hour late for his signing as a result, and I’m sure he wasn’t the only one.
Despite the challenges, most attendees seemed to be making the best of it and having a good time, with the Exhibit Hall floor on Saturday at times feeling cramped to near-San Diego proportions. (Although to be fair, the room was considerably smaller than SDCC and even smaller than the normal WonderCon exhibit hall at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. If you can stand in the middle of the hall, look to your left and right, and see walls in both directions, you’re not remotely in San Diego’s league.) As for the retailers, scuttlebutt seemed to be that sales were down compared to the usual SF locale, another factor that makes me wonder if we’ll be seeing WonderCon around these parts any time soon.
As for me, I had a few obligations to take care of at the show, first and foremost being an appearance on the IDW Panel to promote STAR TREK/DOCTOR WHO: ASSIMILATION SQUARED, which will be beaming/TARDISing into stores in late May.
Also on the panel were Mike Costa and his SMOKE AND MIRRORS cohorts, who entertained us with a pretty remarkable spot of crowd magic.
A few of us lost our composure, however…
when the “Rocketeer” entered the room a touch too early (through no fault of his own, I might add) thanks to an early cue, revealing himself to be…
…Mark Waid! He’ll writing a new ROCKETEER miniseries later this year.
Speaking of the inimitable Mr. Waid, his new digital initiative made quite a few headlines at the show, not only his new digital NOVA comic for Marvel, but also his new plan to self-publish digital comics at his own online home, www.markwaid.com. Also announced was Mark’s plan to fund his initiative by selling his own legendary comic collection, an ongoing process that will be happening right here at our sister site, www.blastoffcomics.com! Head on over to Blastoff to hear Mark explain it all for himself, and to go right to the collection and start shopping, click right over to THE MARK WAID COLLECTION!
Finally, it wouldn’t be a convention report without the traditional COMICS 101 photo essay, so let’s get right to it, shall we?
One of the few moments at the show when it wasn’t raining…
Hard to resist posing by J.K. Woodward’s amazing art for STAR TREK/DOCTOR WHO…
Loving this animated-style Wasp.
Former COMICS 101 columnist Chris Ryall and I shop for original art.
Extra style points for Joan J’onnzz.
One of the fun things about writing comics is meeting up with the characters you write. That being said, out with the old…
…and in with the new! Or rather, in with the Who!
By Sunday, the various events at the Convention Center had begun to mingle…
Marvel seemed to be Cosplayer Central at this show.
My money’s on Rorschach.
Avengers hype was in full swing.
Kotobukiya had a special guest to help promote their new Power Girl statue.
Crowds and cosplayers.
Thanks to everyone who came out for the signing!
Always good to see the Rocketeer.
AOTS’s Blair Butler meets fans at the G4 booth.
My favorite cosplayer of the weekend, based on sheer enthusiasm.
Want to see more WonderCon pics? Head over to my Facebook page.
Scott Tipton is fighting the traditional post-convention malaise, a.k.a. “nerd flu.” If you have questions about comics, send them here.