As a purveyor of nerd culture I have a tendency not to leave the house much, and being a ginger, the sunlight only adds to my need to remain generally cloistered. However, this past weekend I decided to venture out into the great unknown and get a few breaths of fresh air– in between walks from my hotel to the convention center that is, as I attended the first ever Anaheim WonderCon.
We, Southern California dwellers, got an extra special dose of geeky awesomeness this year when Comic Con International decided to hold its annual WonderCon in Anaheim while its usual roaming grounds were under renovation in San Francisco. Seeing this as a potential dry run opportunity for the big rev up in July, I decided to check out how this Con experience would hold up.
Here are some pros and cons I noticed at WonderCon in relation to my usual Comic Con experience:
- Hotel reservations were surprisingly cheap and easy to come by. Due to the closeness of the Disneyland Resorts, there are many, many affordable lodgings well within walking distance of the Anaheim Convention Center with plenty of available rooms in the days leading up to the convention
- Registering for Wonder Con was a cake walk. Unlike the clusterf*ck that was the Comic Con Member ID sign up and Registration, badges for Wonder Con were available up to and including the first days of the event.
A real-life approximation of what it was like to get into the Registration site for Comic Con 2012.
- Getting the badge itself was a simple straightforward experience. No I.D. check, no retina scan, no microchip embedding…. I handed in my registration, they handed me my badge. Just a smile and a thank you and I was sent on my way.
- Speaking of “thank you”… all the volunteers and staff were incredibly nice and helpful. I don’t think I got tasered once asking for directions. That may be a first. I’m sure if they decide to continue holding a Wonder Con in Anaheim in the future that will change, but for the moment, it was delightfully refreshing.
- With the exception of the ballroom, every panel had ample space and almost no lines to get into. No camping out required!
- The floor was filled mostly with Comic books and genre-related booths. There were two game booths dedicated to Capcom and Nintendo but the floor was otherwise free of the usual commercialized Hollywood promotionals.
Also, Steampunk. Steampunk EVERYWHERE.
- Locale. Comic Con San Diego tends to be a sprawling multiple street fair-like event. Other than the Convention itself there’s nothing else to do outside the Anaheim Convention Center except for the looming behemoth that is the Disneyland Resort. Since most convention goers are usually on a limited budget, this is entirely out of the question.
- Time shares! Wonder Con was held at the Anaheim Convention Center and was sharing space over the weekend with both the Ladies Volleyball Tournament, and Spirit Cheerleading Competition. This created not only an awesome clash of cultures but led to hour long lines at the food court and constantly tapped out ATMs.
- Actually…that’s about it. Other than those few minor quibbles, Wonder Con was awesome. Even though it was a little smaller than what I’ve normally been to, it was totally a return to form and made for an amazing and focused Con experience.
Of course now on to what actually happened at Wonder Con! Here’s some of the panels I got to enjoy:
Quick Draw!-Usually headlined by Sergio Aragones, several well known illustrators compete in a Win Lose, or Draw/comedy improv sketch off. It was silly fun, and I learned the Disney artists can have incredibly dark senses of humor. Highlights include a father sitting behind having to explain to his daughter what a “Rush Limbaugh” is.
It Was 30 Years Ago Today: Celebrating 1982 – Greatest Geek Year Ever!-Who knew so many amazing movies came out in one year-Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Blade Runner, E.T., Tron, Poltergeist, Conan: The Barbarian, The Road Warrior, The Thing… By the by-a pox on everyone there who gleefully pointed out that they weren’t even alive when those movies came out. A pox on you all!!!
The World of CAPCOM!-Mostly a panel offering sneak peaks at whats up an coming with Capcom, but mostly the highlight was watching various members of the audience get to battle it out on the big screen playing Street Fighter X Tekken. No mysogony here; just good clean blood sport.
DC Comics: The New 52-Exploring some of the new titles and storylines coming out in relation to the new 52 launch. Highlights for me included the DC universe apparently being taken over by dinosaurs and the re-launch of “Dial H” written by famed fantasy writer China Miéville.
Sadly, no “Crisis of Infinite Zatannas”
Geek & Sundry-a panel discussing Felicia Day’s new Youtube Channel featuring the very best of indie geek culture, with contributors Wil Wheaton-who will host a tabletop gaming review show; Veronica Belmont and Tom Merrit-who will host “Sword & Laser” a SciFi/Fantasy book club; and a motion comic channel featuring Dark Horse Comics. I hope the book club reviews this book first.
Tournament of Nerds!- a live debate that pits two super fans against each other in the ultimate nerd battle. This tournament included such important questions such as who would win in a fight-Freddy Krueger vs The Undertaker and Thor vs Godzilla? Quote of the night-”Godzilla would never bang your girlfriend.”
WonderCon Masquerade-bring your flask.
Community- Its back, our long national nightmare is finally over!
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog-Ending the convention on a tragicomedic bittersweet note! Much like Comic Con, Wonder Con’s aim is send you out on a Whedon high. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll feel oddly disquieted. Audience partici…pation is always strongly suggested.
That about does it for me. If the rumor mill is true and Comic Con International does decide to make a North/South Wonder Con annual convention, I will gladly be a repeat attendee. I’ll just be sure to carry cash next time and pack lots of sammiches.
Who am I kidding? I met Squirrel Girl. My weekend was perfect.
Special Guest Star/Intrepid Cub Reporter: