Wondercon 2013, shall I compare thee to a SDCC? It’s probably not fair to compare the small conventions to the International version. But, it would be difficult not to compare in some respects. This was Anaheim’s second year hosting WonderCon. After a long run in San Francisco, the con has moved south and so far it seems to be drawing a decent crowd. If WonderCon decides to stay in Anaheim, I think they could slowly grow themselves into a must-see event. Conveniently located across the street from Disneyland, attendees can turn Wondercon into a full vacation if they wanted to.
I personally live about a half hour from Anaheim (maybe more with the So. Cal. unpredictable traffic), so the choice to visit Wondercon was a no brainer for me. I was a bit nervous about how well this Con would be put on. I attended Stan Lee’s Comikazee in Los Angeles late last year and it was very depressing and disappointing, to say the least. Granted, Comikazee wasn’t looking to compete with SDCC or other larger Cons. It still didn’t manage to bring the excitement to this comic, pop culture, or cosplay fan. It was so low key that it was bordering on a flatline. But, this isn’t about how bad I felt Comikazee was, this is about how good Wondercon was.
That’s right, WonderCon was an enjoyable experience. It was probably a quarter of the size of SDCC, with plenty of space to walk and no line over 20 minutes…and that was just the initial line to get into a panel. Parking was a little bit of a mess in regards to traffic, but overall there was plenty of space to park near the convention, and a convenient off-site parking lot with a shuttle to the convention. When I arrived on Friday, the line to get badges was extremely short. In fact, it was a longer walk to get to the back of the room, and then back to the front through the roped lanes to get the badge itself. That seemed a bit unnecessary. Once the badge was acquired, the line to get into the convention was very long and wrapped around the building. When the convention actually opened and access to the floor was given, the line moved quickly and we were all inside and doing our happy dance (okay, maybe just some people did happy dances).
The main floor was split into two sections. One section was collectibles, toys, card gaming, and other nerd niche items for purchase. The other section was studio presence, gaming systems, DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, and artist alley. There was actually a lot of different collectibles, comics, etc. for sale at WonderCon. More Minecraft items than you could shake a pickaxe at, and plenty of nerd/geek tshirts to choose from.
The section that had film/television studio presence and gaming systems wasn’t nearly as congested as SDCC. You could walk freely around and check out the WiiU system, the Oblivion bubble ship, and the new/retro Duck Tales video game. The biggest draw was the DC Comics booth. They had giveaways and swag, and a huge line. I say Huge, but it was probably manageable for the hardcore DC fans. The Artist Alley was pretty crowded at times. Which is great for a Con like this, where true fans of the artists can place their sketch book in the right hands.
Swag was almost non-existent from my perspective. Not that I’m looking for the free handout. It’s just jarring going from SDCC where swag is in large amounts and papers are constantly being shoved in your face. At WonderCon it is way toned down on handouts. There were a few people outside with some propaganda, but overall you didn’t walk away from WonderCon with a large bag full of goodies, unless you bought them yourself. There was plenty to buy if you were looking for something to collect or a comic book to buy.
The panels at WonderCon were enjoyable and intimate. I attended a few panels in the new Arena area. This was a large sports arena that was split in half and allowed plenty of seating…and stadium seating at that. Everyone in that Arena had a good seat and view of the video screen and the panel itself. The first day I was able to walk right into the Arena and sit about ten rows back from the stage. This was for the Animation panel which showcased a few different animated short films. Not much of a draw compared to the television and movie panels that would fill the place later that weekend. Either way it felt good to walk into a panel without a line.
Later in the afternoon on Friday, I waited in line with my Son to see the “Regular Show” panel. The line was long, and unfortunately not everyone got inside. It filled up pretty quickly and my Son and I were one of the last ones to enter the room, and several people were turned away. That was shocking. I didn’t expect a program like “Regular Show” to draw so many people and only be able to accommodate half of the people that stood in line. Don’t get me wrong, the room was big and held a lot of people. “Regular Show” just drew more fans than the room could hold. Oh, and those who did get into the panel got free cake! Free cake is always good.
On Saturday I walked straight into the line for the Arena. Saturday had a lot of great panels in the Arena. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, The Conjuring , Pacific Rim, Revolution, Evil Dead, and This is the End. The video screen was big, so everyone in any seat could see. The sound was good. It was no Hall H, but it held its own. The panels fell a little behind on time and a few panels started later than expected. There was a lot of great footage shown. Pacific Rim had a fantastic trailer, one I haven’t seen yet and built up plenty of excitement for the film. Guillermo del Toro is a great story teller and fantastic person to listen to. Every time he’s at SDCC he tells these great stories and gets people excited about his projects. This time around he shed some light on the practical effects and sets used in Pacific Rim and gave us some insight into the story itself. The theater had a big audience, but wasn’t full by any means.
The Conjuring and Evil Dead showcased some clips from the films. The Conjuring had some clips that were terrifying, jump out of your seat terrifying. Evil Dead was just disgusting and blood driven. Although, Bruce Campbell was at the panel and he was cracking people up during the entire thing. Horror isn’t my thing. But, if I had to choose which film I would see in the theater or recommend to others based on what I saw at the panel, it would be The Conjuring. I think people will walk out of the theater on edge and sleep with one eye open at night for a couple weeks.
This is the End had a hilarious panel. Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Evan Goldberg, and Seth Rogen came out to talk about the film. Seth Rogen arrived in a Wolverine costume, while Evan Goldberg arrived in bondage, mistaking Wondercon for AdultCon. The group talked about the film and showed two full scenes from the film and an extended trailer. One scene involved the party at James Franco’s house, and the beginning of the end of the world. The ground opens up and begins to swallow up celebrities, and poor Michael Cera gets impaled by a light post (that’s not a spoiler…it’s in the trailer). The second full scene they showcased was “The Exorcism of Jonah Hill.” This was a hilarious Exorcist style scene with Hill tied to the bed and Jay Baruchel trying to perform an exorcism on him. I think this movie will either connect with people, or they will hate it. It’s not going to be for everyone. Fans of the actors and the writing of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg will enjoy This is the End.
The Arena, for me, was one of the best things about the Wondercon. This was a great place to see some of the movie and television panels. I hope next year they will return to Anaheim and utilize the Arena more. I think they could easily fill the room and bring some big studios to showcase their projects. The other rooms that were used for panels were definitely big enough to hold the fans, but there are probably some TV related franchises that could stand to be upgraded to the Arena.
For others, the best thing may have been the Cosplay or the ability to walk around an exhibit floor without being shoved by sweaty smell y geeks. The Cosplay was definitely running wild. I didn’t have a chance to take pictures of the Cosplay. Luckily other people did and we were able to show some of the pictures from @TheeErikEstrada Here at WNA. You can check out more of our pictures from WonderCon 2013 over at the When Nerds Attack Facebook Page.
I would highly recommend Wondercon in 2014 for those who are local to Southern California. For those who are out of state, you could maybe turn this into a mini vacation with Disneyland thrown in the mix for good measure. That would make it worth the travel. I will be returning in 2014 for sure.
Did you attend WonderCon 2013? What did you think of the Con? Let us know your experience in the comment section.