This will be my fifth year attending San Diego Comic-Con, but my first visit to WonderCon. When my sister offered me tickets last week to attend WonderCon, I couldn’t resist heading over to Anaheim to check it out. I didn’t know if it would be a mini Comic-Con or what to expect at all. Tickets were still available even during the event, so it was a nice option for locals shut out of Comic-Con tickets. The halls and panels were busy and crowded but not overwhelmingly so. It was a relaxed atmosphere and the smaller scale made for a more personal experience. My main interest was to go to the author panels and signings, but we managed to do some of the TV and movie panels as well.
We got up early Saturday and braved the pouring rain to pick up our badges at the convention center. The convention center seemed to be a similar size to San Diego’s but we found out when we entered that only about a quarter of the convention center was used for WonderCon. The rest of the convention center was used for a girls cheerleading and volleyball competition held at the same time. My husband thought it was strange that all these young girls were cosplaying as Claire from Heroes, but that was not the case. It certainly was amusing to see the cheerleaders walking amongst the stormtroopers, zombies, and superheroes in the convention center halls. It was a piece of cake to pick up the badges and it was easy to find our way around.
Saturday was the day for movie panels, so we mainly stuck to the Ballroom on the third level (about the size of San Diego’s ballroom 20) to check those out. Sunday was the day for TV panels, as well as the YA author panel, and several author signings throughout the day.
Some of the highlights from my visit to WonderCon:
1. Spotlight on Ernest Cline – The author of Ready Player One and screenwriter of Fanboys was on hand to talk about how he got his start in writing. Like a few other authors and filmmakers he started out by working in a video store. Ernie is a very engaging speaker and he talked for an hour about the turbulent making of Fanboys and the writing of Ready Player One. My husband and I both loved that book and it was great to see so many fans of the book in attendance. Ernie talked about his next book, which will be a coming age book about growing up in the 1980’s. Can’t wait to read it! There’s a good recap of the panel here.
2. 20th Century Fox Panel featuring producer Tim Burton’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Ridley Scott’s Promotheus – The Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter panel started with a video explaining why Tim Burton would not be there and showed a bizarre clip of a fake decaying body (Tim Burton) attended by two attractive nurses and by doctor Andrew Weil. We were asked to #PrayforTim when the clip ended. So strange! The trailer looks awesome, and I am more interested in seeing the movie than I had been. The author Seth Grahame Smith moderated the panel and said he was inspired to write the book when on book tour during Lincoln’s 200th birthday he would see a display of Abraham Lincoln bios side by side with a display of Twilight books. Damon Lindelof moderated the Prometheus panel with guests Sir Ridley Scott, Charlize Theron, and Michael Fassbender. This was most likely the most popular panel of the whole Con and the crowd was enthusiastic. I still don’t know that it’s my type of thing, but it was an entertaining panel regardless. Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender acting out the Prometheus trailer was a standout moment.
3. ABC’s Once Upon A Time – For this panel there was a screening of the episode that aired Sunday (Heart of Darkness) followed by a short q&a with series creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horovitz. They said they would love to add the Little Mermaid, Mulan, and Rapunzel to the show at some point. The panel ran a little late and I had to run to attend the…
4. Shivers, Shakes, & Swoon: The Young Adult books we can’t put down panel – This panel was moderated by author Andrea Cremer (Nightshade series) and included Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children), Kami Garcia (co-author of the Beautiful Creatures Novels), Gretchen McNeil (Possess), Lissa Price (Starters), Veronica Rossi (Under the Never Sky) & Ann Aguirre (Enclave). Great line-up, right? Andrea was a fabulous moderator and asked about their books and their favorite cosplayer at the Con. The authors took some questions from the audience, and premiered the book trailers for Starters and Under the Never Sky. There were a lot of people coming into the panel late that didn’t look like YA fans, and it turns out they were there for the next panel: Naruto: Shippuden! New YA fans in the making?
4. Author signings– One thing I missed from Comic-Con is group author signings. Because all of the signings were held at the tiny Mysterious Galaxy booth, they could only accommodate two authors at a time. So every hour I would dash back down to the 1st floor exhibit hall from the 3rd floor other end of the convention center, dodging cheerleaders along the way, to get to the MG booth for the next signing. Snuck in some good exercise there! I was disappointed to miss the Gretchen McNeil & Andrea Cremer signing in the morning but was able to pick up signed copies of Possess and Ten later. Yay! Kami Garcia was paired with Ransom Riggs so I got my copies of Beautiful Chaos and Miss Peregrine signed. There was not a rushed feeling at all, and the authors had time to chat and sign. Next I met Veronica Rossi who is really sweet and told me she is working on writing the next book in her series (Under the Never Sky). Finally, I met Lissa Price and Ann Aguirre. Mysterious Galaxy was giving out ARC’s of Ann’s book Outpost with a purchase of Enclave, so I snapped those up. Ann has written a lot of books – very impressive! And Enclave is her first hardcover book. Lissa Price had a big line of Starters fans, and she was ready with swag in hand. She told me she had heard of my blog and I don’t know if that’s true or not but it made me happy.
5-7. Alcatraz, Fringe, and Dr. Horrible – The Alcatraz and Fringe panels featured the cast and writers and took audience questions. I don’t watch either show but the panels were interesting anyway. The Con closed out with a screening of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. I hadn’t seen it before but my daughter is a big fan. It is hilarious!
8. The Exhibit Hall – There were a good mix of exhibitors and no big studio booths at this Con. You could walk around without too much pushing and crowding. Good comics presence and Artists’ Alley. My daughter was happy to find a My Little Pony Doctor Whooves t-shirt. The only bad lines at WonderCon were the food lines, which I avoided altogether.
9. The Sound of My Voice panel – The first 12 minutes of this cult drama about a woman who claims to be a visitor from the year 2054 were screened. If you like cults this may be the movie for you. I’m intrigued by the creepy mystery of it.
10. Cosplay – It’s always a fun part of the experience to see the creative costumes attendees put together! I didn’t have my camera with me, but here’s a gallery of highlights from Comic Vine.
I was not able to attend Friday, and missed a few other big movie panels like Snow White, Spiderman, and Looper, but I’m pretty pleased with what I was able to get to. A great time was had by all at WonderCon, and I would absolutely go again, even if/when the event returns to San Francisco. With tickets to Comic-Con so hard to come by, WonderCon is a nice easy-going alternative.
Giveaway has ended:
The winner of the Once Upon a Time journal is Reut! Congrats!
- WonderCon 2012: The Wrap Up (comicbooked.com)
- WonderCon 2012: ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER Panel Recap; Timur Bekmambetov and Benjamin Walker Screen Special Footage (collider.com)
- The Time I went to Wondercon (Adventures of a Book Junkie)