Wednesday, April 6, 2011

WonderCon '11

Every year I sit home and watch as people tweet/Facebook update/podcast about going to all of these awesome conventions all around the country: San Diego Comic-Con, Emerald City Comic-Con, PAX, E3, DragonCon, etc, etc. The list goes on and on, meanwhile the bet I go to is Sac-Con and SacAnime.

Now don't get me wrong, I like going to these conventions, I've been able to meet, and get autographs from Crispin Freeman (“Hellsing”, “GITS:SAC”), Spike Spencer (Evangelion), and Benjamin Roman (“I Luv Halloween”), and those were really great, but those are usually held in a space about the size of a school gym. It's just not the same, you know?

So this year I decided to go for it. San Francisco's only a couple of hours from here, so why not give WonderCon a try? For those who do not know, WonderCon is held in San Francisco's Moscone Center, and is put on by the same people that run Comic-Con San Diego. The folks at Sac-Con put a lot of work into the local conventions, but it's a bit like comparing a child's lemonade stand to Tropicana.

We decided to go too late to get the first day of the show off, so we just got tickets for Saturday. On Saturday morning I donned my best Punisher shirt, grabbed my goggles, packed some suitably white trash snacks, and drove down to San Francisco for a day where I could wear a pair of goggles while walking around and not feel at all out of place.

Mind you, in San Francisco I could probably walk around with my goggles on anytime, and still not look out of place.

Even at the street you could tell that the empire was not taking any chances; security was everywhere:

Luckily we had pre-bought our tickets, so we were able to skip the ticket queue (which wasn't really all that bad, given that we arrived just as the convention was opening for the day), but just going to get our badges it was evident that this show was just as big as I had expected it to be.

And this is just the registration area.

So we go and turn our tickets in, are issued our badges and Showtime “The Borgias” lanyards, and in we go.

WonderCon, I have arrived!

If you've never been to this size convention before, and as I've stated, I hadn't, then it is pretty overwhelming at first sight. Where do you go first? The Capcom display? Nintendo? Marvel Comics? Nope. I headed straight for artist alley (with a few minor detours on the way, one of which finally netted me a Doctor Who Ironsides Dalek figure). Why would I go there? Because it was finally a chance to meet a couple of the podcasters I've been listening to for going-on four years now:

Dave Dwonch and Super Ugly of The Geek Savants! This may not seem like a big deal to you, but it was actually a bit of a deciding factor for going to WonderCon to begin with. I picked up a signed copy of Super Ugly's colouring book, and Dave Dwonch's graphic novel, “Back in the Day”. Aside from being really nice guys, they also gave me a print of their Episode 200 poster (which is an awesome Star Wars parody), and a pair of prints featuring artwork from other episodes. I need to move into a bigger place just to give me more wall space.

I also got to meet Sergio Aragones. If you don't know who that is, then shame on you. I'm not going to tell you, go Google it. I did get a signed copy of the Groo 25th anniversary book though.

I did get to see Robert Kirkman, but you had to have tickets to get him to sign anything, so I didn't bother. With only one day to see everything, I didn't want to spend a lot of time waiting in lines for things. If we go next year we may go for multiple days so that we can spend time waiting in line for some panels.

I may not have gotten a Kirkman signature, but I did get a copy of “Darkwing Duck: The Duck Knight Returns” signed by artist James Silvani (and he even did a little DW doodle on a bookmark to go with it), and a bunch of free stuff, including a cute children's book, the name of which escapes me, a short story collection edited by Mike Resnick, and Osaka got a promo copy of a novel about The Black Friars of Berkeley.

There were the usual assortment of actors who are, shall we say, past their prime, but the only one I feel I needed to take a picture of was:

Lou Ferrigno. That's right, The Incredible Hulk himself! Why did I not get a picture with him, you ask? Because he wanted forty bucks for a polaroid, that's why. I know he needs the money, but still...

If you're wondering what is wrong with his face in the picture, he was chewing.

Of course no convention is complete without cosplayers (I really need to come up with a costume myself). There were lots of great costumes that I did not get pictures of, like the Doctor Girlfriend and the group of Monarch's Henchman, or the kid dressed as an Angry Bird, or any of the Doctors roaming about (saw a few Tennants, a couple of Smiths, one with Amy Pond, and even one Baker), or the woman who I am pretty sure was a Fallout ghoul in a pink dress, but I did get pictures of these guys:

And this guy:


Okay, so that's not really a guy exactly.

And there were some zombie pirates on hand, but never fear:

The Ghostbusters were on hand to deal with them.

Things got a little weird with this one, not because of anything the guard did, but because after Osaka took my picture with him, someone else wanted to wait to get a picture of me with him as well. My ego would like to think that someone recognized me, but I know that that is silly. If you happen to see this picture, but shot from a different angle, somewhere else on line, please send me a link.

Cosplaying takes a certain amount of courage (especially if you are not a masked character), and some people have a clear surplus of courage:

I would like to point out that I saw a total of four Princess Leias while at WonderCon; one Episode IV, and three Slave Leias. You know, some of us are built to cosplay Slave Leia, and some of us are born the cosplay Klingons. I am in the latter camp, which is a large part of why I've not built myself a costume. I can't think of any fat characters I want to play as, and I just can't see wandering around as a fat Doctor (although if I can ever find an Azumanga Daioh Father Hat, I am totally going to cosplay as Kimura-Sensei).

One large problem with cosplay is that the costumes are frequently delicate, which means they are hard to clean without damaging them. They are also frequently warm (why do so many characters insist on wearing heavy coats and full face masks?). Those two things combine to make the even some of the best costumes hard to be around due to their fragrance. We had an issue while splitting an eight dollar personal size pizza with a girl dressed as Death from “Sandman”, although it may have actually been her non-costumed friend now that I think back on it.

Aside from everything else that I got to see, I also ran into Beka, an old co-worker of mine and Osaka's from the toy store days, but we didn't get a lot of time to speak as she was just plunging herself into the nerdgasm that was WonderCon. I hope that I am in a position to be able to go again next year, but we will definitely need to go multiple days; there's just too much to do in a single day.

So until next year, farewell WonderCon!

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