Hey, That's My Cape! WonderCon, Where A Geek Can Be A Geek
By Jill Pantozzi, Newsarama Contributor
Newsarama Note: Click through the gallery to the right for much more from WonderCon 2011
Two weeks ago I attended my first C2E2 in Chicago. This past weekend was my first WonderCon in San Francisco. Now setting aside the fact that it was silly of me to do two cons in such close proximity to each other, they might have been my two favorite conventions ever.
You may not know this, but WonderCon is San Diego Comic-Con’s quieter cousin from the north. It’s got the same west coast feel as SDCC but is ten times calmer and certainly smaller. It’s because of that the entire convention felt like one big party. It helped I wasn’t working this one as much and had tons of friends in attendance as well.
Speaking of friends, I always tell mine (not to mention any of my readers) to follow my tweets while I’m at a convention, not just to keep up with breaking news from the show floor but also to be able to find me in the crowd. Little did I know, they actually let a few friends who couldn’t make it to WonderCon feel like they were there instead of missing out. “Distance interactivity” another friend called it. That made me feel really good because the whole time I was there I was wishing those people could join us and to know my constant tweeting helped them feel a part of it was just awesome. Tweeting is actually useful for lots of things. Case in point: One morning, while lying groggy in bed and catching up on friends’ tweets, I noticed my roommate had tweeted at me from the bathroom of our hotel room to see if I was awake. And with someone else, tweets of “Marco” and “Polo” helped us search each other out. And let’s not forget, Twitter can give you awesome con moments like this.
All tweeting aside (did I just make up a new saying?), there was a lot that happened at WonderCon. The first panel I went to was DC Nation on Friday. It was the strangest feeling because another Newsarama writer was covering it and that made it the first DC panel I’d ever attended that I could just sit and enjoy as a fan. It was the usual fare, Dan DiDio who had been on a three-week stretch of cons was suffering from a case of con crud but was still holding court at the podium and fielding most of the fan questions. Having been a little under-the-weather myself that weekend I was carrying Ricola cough drops with me. I decided to ask a few fans if I could cut in front of them at the microphone line to ask Dan if he wanted one and he gladly accepted. I found out later a DC photographer had caught the tender moment. I stayed through to the next panel, which was also DC-centric, Green Lantern with Geoff Johns and Eddie Berganza. They sat the new movie lantern, lit up mind you, in between them on stage. A few lucky fans even got to hold it. Speaking of all things GL, I missed out on getting the exclusive White Lantern Batman they were selling at WonderCon. It was a whole lottery process which is fair but what’s not fair is jerk vendors selling them for $90 on the show floor afterward.
Later that night I attended the highly anticipated Green Lantern movie panel with Johns and film stars Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively. The panelists would have been enough to fill the seats but we were also promised exclusive new footage from the film (4-minutes of which you can right above this paragraph). I admit, although I’m a HUGE Green Lantern fan, after that first trailer was released, I was a little worried. And now? All of my fears are gone (so I guess I can actually *be* a GL now). The sheer amount of footage we were given was just ridiculous and gave us a good chunk of what to expect, including the intense fight between Parallax and Abin Sur. One of my biggest concerns for the film was how Reynolds would play Hal. From the first trailer it seemed he was going to go his usual comedic route and let’s face it, Hal’s no comedian. But during the panel Reynolds made sure to mention there would be a few “dry wit” lines but that he didn’t see Hal as a comedian and so did not play him as one.
I wasn’t able to meet up with everyone on the floor that first day but I was determined to catch everyone that night. And I mostly did at this unique event called BarBot. And yes, it was as cool as it sounds. People rigged robots and machines to mix several different kinds of drinks. It doesn’t get much better than that. And who was there but two robot aficionados, Grant Imahara and Bonnie Burton! They both have a very special connection with R2-D2. And that’s all I have to say about that.
Saturday and Sunday blurred together for me honestly. There was a lot of checking out the show floor. I got to scan through Artists Alley, which was almost exactly like the last one I walked through, except it was mostly filled with people I didn’t know from the West Coast. I stopped by Jane Wiedlin’s table and got to fulfill a dream of telling her how much I was obsessed with her single line from Clue when I was a kid (still am really). I also ran into another idol of mine on the floor; Mr. Bruce Timm, creator of Batman: The Animated Series. I’m not usually star struck but I almost chickened out approaching him to say how much I loved his work. I got to interview our new Superman Henry Cavill (that’ll be up later this week). I wasn’t convinced until I saw him in person but this guy really *is* Superman. I can’t wait to see him in the suit.
Another thrill was getting to meet the remarkable Neil Gaiman during the Doctor Who interview session. I could seriously listen to that man talk for hours, maybe days, and not get tired of it. If you ever have an opportunity to hear him speak, go. The last panel I attended was the one for ThunderCats, which was total nostalgic fun. Can’t wait for the new series.
The cosplay that weekend was top notch at WonderCon. I feel bad I only hastily put together one costume the day before I left for the trip. And it was basically plain clothes so without my partner in crime, no one knew I was even dressed up. I went as Amy Pond from Doctor Who and another Doctor didn’t even realize who I was at first! Cosplay fail. I still like how it turned out but like I said, amazing cosplayers were out in force. First and foremost, a group crossplaying the Justice League of America. In case you don’t know, that means they switched the genders of the characters. So Superman wasn’t turned into a blonde Supergirl, the woman had black hair and his trademark curl on her forehead. And don’t even get me started on the Power Girl switch, that was...tremendous. There was also a superb Buzz Lightyear, some monkeys from Planet of the Apes and a father (who may be my new hero) who dressed his kid up in two tremendous costumes in one day – Carl from The Walking Dead and a Jawa.
But really, the highlight of WonderCon was the attendees. Meeting people for the first time you’ve talked to online for years is such a surreal thing. You never know how your friendship is going to translate into real life but luckily geeks are a pretty cool group of people and it usually turns out just fine. That was the case here. I met Jessica Mills from Awkward Embraces and Blair Butler from G4 for the first time, both ladies who I greatly admire for their work and awesome taste in television and comics. I also got to mingle with the Geek Girl Con crew at a party they hosted Saturday night and a met a lot of cool folks at the Image party later that night.
I’d totally recommend WonderCon to anyone but especially someone who’s never attended a convention before. It’s got the personal, friendly feeling of a small-town con with the flashy movie and television appearances of Comic-Con. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s in a beautiful city.