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WonderCon: Anaheim Year 3

WonderCon 2014


The WonderCon convention was unveiled to the public during the weekend of April 18th through the 20th at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. It is now plainly evident that the owners of WonderCon are quite comfortable in their third year at the huge venue and it might be a sure bet that the well attended and much admired event will not be returning to its point of origin in northern California. That being stated, WonderCon hit record attendance numbers and it is also beginning to resemble its older and more established brother, Comic-Con that is held yearly in San Diego.

Famed Cosplayer, Yaya Han.
Oscar Benjamin
One of the many banners proclaiming that WonderCon was happening!
Oscar Benjamin

The WonderCon is a convention that started off in 1987 in Oakland, California as an event exclusively celebrating comic books and their creators. During the 90's, speculators drove up the price of comic book and it began to attract the attention of mainstream film studios that had also began to slowly realize the potential of making money from films based on comic characters and stories. The film industry started to release films such as Batman(1989), The Rocketeer(1991) and The Crow(1994) and WonderCon quickly transformed itself into a viable venue for the industry to generate huge word of mouth and interest for such films. WonderCon was eventually sold by co-owners, Mike Friedrich and Joe Field in the year, 2001 to the owners of the Comic-Con empire that is based out of San Diego, California. This transaction would foreshadow the state of WonderCon as many consider the convention to be a more relaxed version of Comic-Con.

The first day of any convention is usually considered a day where many can easily maneuver in and out of the dealer's room and casually just enter a panel already in progress. This reporter arrived two hours past the official opening of the convention's doors and was astonished to see an amazing amount of individuals running and fast walking to get to different locations. It was astonishing to note that the rather large convention hall was quickly starting to resemble a walk in Times Square! Press events on Friday were rather sparse, but the lack of quantity was made up by the quality of the creators, celebrity talent and very impressive Cosplayers wandering and posing for the press and fans alike. Celebrities and panelists on the first day included the strikingly beautiful actress, Elizabeth Mitchell who playfully teased press photographers with her rather impressive legs and her equally impressive sense of humor. The actors and creators that were in attendance on Friday quickly established a template that would once again remind the press that despite growing similarities to Comic-Con, a reporter can cover this convention at a leisurely pace.

The second day of the convention and any convention that includes a Saturday on its schedule is the day when most will attend and the venue will be at capacity. It was reported on the website for the convention that Friday and Saturday had been sold out. It was quite plainly evident with elbows accidentally coming into contact with ribs. One of the most entertaining aspects of the WonderCon are the scheduled Cosplay group photo gatherings that occur in front of the convention center itself. There are a variety of themes that are explored such as Marvel Comics and DC Comics groups that segregate themselves according to teams within each of the various company characters. You will often find an Avengers team shoot that sometimes will be followed by a Justice League shoot. Within these group shoots, Cosplayers have displayed cleverness and ingenuity by gender changes with notable characters and changing time periods for many of the same characters. These events represent activities that any con attendee should not miss.

Saturday also proved to be especially exciting with the reveal of major footage from the Godzilla film which demonstrated a good clear view of the titular creature for the first time in a public setting. The WonderCon attendees reacted wildly with enthusiastic screams and claps of thunderous approval. The director, Gareth Edwards seemed to be genuinely taken aback with the wild approval from the con attendees and was noticeably pleased and surprised. Frantic screams could be heard when actor, Dylan O'Brien took the stage in order to publicize the film, The Maze Runner. The actor is beginning to receive more notice and acclaim because of his role on television's Teen Wolf and there is an impression that he might become a hot item as a film star which the filmmakers of The Maze Runner have seemingly taken into account with the casting of the actor in the lead role for the film. Beyond the reaction for the screen reveal of Godzilla, actor Gary Oldman completely won the audience with his amusing sense of humor and timing to some of the equally humorous questions that were asked of him during the question and answer portion of the panel for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Oldman is also an exceptional actor who has gained respect from his peers and fans alike for his wide variety of roles in science fiction, horror and fantasy films. Gary Oldman has incredible superstar status to the WonderCon crowd and demonstrated that he is completely comfortable with massive crowds.

For those who also attend on Sunday will be rewarded with a rather relaxing day that allows attendees to create new friendships and possibly network with industry professionals. It is also the best day to wander the immense dealer's room and be astonished at the amazing variety of comic book and movie related items for sale. You can see fetching bikinis based on comic book outfits and beautifully sculpted action figures that sometimes command equally fetching prices. It is a fantasy bazaar that will entrance you for a number of hours and despite your time investment you will still leave with a nagging feeling that you missed many attractions. Members of the press and other professional photographers can also arrange to conduct photo shoots with many of the Cosplayers that are available for such an engagement. This photographer arranged impromptu photo shoots with noted and popular Cosplayers. These Coslayers included Yaya Han(Heroes of Cosplay) and the always engaging and gregarious, Valerie Perez who will always go out of her way to talk and laugh with fans.

WonderCon continues to improve on a yearly basis and the Anaheim Convention Center has proven to be the ideal fit for the convention. The convention center is also within walking distance of Disneyland which would also make it a convenient way combine family interests. Northern California's loss has turned out to be southern California's winning gain. WonderCon can also be seen as either a warm up to Comic-Con or perhaps an alternative to that convention. Whatever an attendee decides, there can be no doubt that all parties concerned have won!