It is that time of year again folks! The Comic-Con season is in full swing with Cons across the country, from Seattle, Austin, New York, and now reaching Southern California!
San Diego Comic-Con’s sister convention, WonderCon, is taking place in Anaheim, CA the weekend of
April 18-20, 2014, (yes Easter Weekend), at the Anaheim Convention Center across from Disneyland.
WonderCon has shifted from Northern California, in the SanFran/Oakland area, and over the years the fans up North have had quite some words to Comic Con International (CCI) about bringing it back; all I will say is that WonderCon was up there for 24 years, and has just recently moved to Southern California, only since 2011. So quit complaining!
Any who, this post will be all about the tips, hints, secrets-of-the-trade, and advice for WonderCon attendees! Everything from panels, autographs, exclusives, hotels, transportation and parking, local eats, and more! Whether it is your first time, third time, or tenth time, I hope you enjoy the read and take something with you!
So far, WonderCon is sold out for Saturday and three day badges; Friday and Sunday are still available, but unsure how much is still available; CCI members had the opportunity to volunteer as well, but that is already closed!
Helpful hint for 2015, make sure to have your CCI account registered and check back for volunteer opportunities, a simple 3-hour shift each day gets you the rest of the Convention for free! On the bright side, WonderCon is a very reasonably priced Comic-Con, only $50 for the weekend! As compared to SDCC which is about $175 for four days . . . but it is all about perspective and the price is very well worth it.
For the first few tips, let’s talk about the Convention itself and what 2014 has to offer, or what changes were made!
one change in exhibits is Gentle Giant, (for the collectors); I am a huge Gentle Giant fan and collector, but unfortunately, they will not be having a booth this year! Some other notable companies exhibiting this year will include:
20th Century Fox (1468)
YES! Anime (1438)
Superhero Stuff (526)
Nerdist Industries (1410)
DC Entertainment (401)
Dark Horse Comics (519)
Things From Another World [TFAW] (431)
ACME Archives (121)
Cheap Graphic Novels (726)
LOOT Crate (175)
The list above are just a few of my favorites I return to each year! And below are the more interests and hobbies incorporated, including
501st Legion (1187)
R2 Builders Club (1191)
WALL-E Builders (1189)
Agents of C.O.S.P.L.A.Y. (F-17)
Mandalorian Mercs (F-01)
*Check http://www.comic-con.org/wca for full listing*
What else is there other than booths, exhibits, and astromech builders? There are autographs! Movie Stars! Celebrities! Writers! Artists!
Each year WonderCon brings in a wide array of Comic-Book stars for fans to enjoy, whether it be comic book sketches, signing comics, meeting your favorite star to sign an autograph, or just chat and get to know them! In past Conventions, I have met stars such as Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) , Sara Underwood (G4TVs Attack of the Show), Ray Park (Darth Maul), The Soup Nazi (Seinfeld), Lou Ferrigno (Hulk), Jordan Hembrough (The Toy Hunter, Travel Chanel) and many more!
This year’s notables include
Jim Lee (DC Comics)
Once Upon A Time Signing (Saturday, 10am)
Larry Thomas (Soup Nazi)
Claudia Wells (Jennifer, Back To The Future)S
Liam Mcintyre, Ellen Hollman, and Stephen Dunlevy (Spartacus)
Matt BATT Banning (AA-167)
Ale Garza (AA-190)
Matt Hawkins (AA276)
Tom Hodges (AA076)
Be sure to check all their schedules, signing times, panels, and more for opportunities to meet them! *Check http://www.comic-con.org/wca for full listing*
Now onto programming; for this section I won’t list my favorites or notables, as there are just so many panels and options to choose from, each person really has to take a look at their schedule. My best advice for this, if it is a larger room holding a larger, popular panel, get in line EARLY.
I volunteered for WonderCon 2013 and my shift ended about an hour prior to a Pacific Rim panel with Guillermo del Toro . . . and they closed the line! Though WonderCon is not as big and bold as SDCC, do not underestimate the power of the Con! WonderCon has been growing in popularity year after year, just as SDCC, and especially with Saturday passes sold out so soon, it will be quite a busy year!
Now for some tips and helpful hints to make WonderCon a successful event!
I won’t be including any info on hotels or lodging, as it is pretty close to the date and you should already have a place to stay! But, I will say, if it is quite a distance from the Convention Center, ask your hotel or place of stay if a trolley or shuttle is available to and from the center; parking will not only be a hassle but eat up more spending money from your wallet and not let you splurge as much in the convention!
So here are the tips of WonderCon! (These tips have been cumulated over the years of personal Comic-Con experiences, as well as tips gathered from Tony B Kim (@Crazy4ComicCon) Shawn Marshall (@The_Con_Fluence) and the SDCC Unofficial Blog! (SD_Comic_Con)
1) HAVE FUN! I can not embrace or say this enough, just have fun! Whether it is your first time, last time, you cosplay, you go as a movie buff or comic junkie, a collector or just a patron checking the day out, have fun! Nobody wants a Depressed Darth walking around
2) Get there early! If you have panels to attend, people to see, items to buy, get there early! The earlier the better, and if you didn’t know, Comic Conventions have become worse than Disneyland for lines . . . speaking of lines . . .
3) Lines will become your most treasured asset! Be friendly, talk to strangers make new friends, meet new people; be sure your electronics are charged and connected to WiFi if available! And be sure to hop in the correct line! Don’t know how many times lines will merge or split or be a cluster of geeks, causing someone to lose their spot or their line at all! And sometimes people just do not know what line they are in!
4) Plan Plan Plan! Plan your days, create a schedule, map out the Convention floor, download apps, print a map, anything to be sure you know where you are going, know when you will go, who will be there, and what to do!
5) TWITTER!! Twitter is a life-saver, an oracle, and simply works magic during Conventions! Follow the studios, companies, vendors, and stars attending the show for up to the minute updates, surprise appearances, giveaways, freebies, scheduling announcements and more!
6) Business Card; whether you have a blog, retail, shoot photos, buy, sell, or just to mingle, business cards are a fast, simple way to exchange information! Be sure to include only the information you want for people to find you via social media or other platforms of your choice!
7) Food! I can not urge you enough not to eat inside the Convention Center! The food is expensive, low quality, and not worth the wait! WonderCon 2013 introduced food trucks lined up outside the center in between the two hotels, and those were a huge hit! Great food, great prices, and gives you some fresh air outside the event! Also near by, there are plenty of fast food places, sit down restaurants, and even Downtown Disney is walking distance from the center!
7.5) this will tie into tip #7 regarding food; though I urge not to eat inside the center, don’t rely on constantly eating out as well! You might be sitting in a panel or line for hours, forget what time it is and forget to eat, or even work up an appetite throughout the day! I always bring a small backpack with water bottles, snack bars, apples, bananas, and/or homemade sandwiches like pb&j. These are great for on the go, sitting in a panel, or just taking a side break to people watch!
8) Storage. Backpacks are an important item that will house your foods, purchases, or other items you may bring or obtain during the day. But be sure not to put cell phones, wallets, or other items of importance in their as pick-picketers could slide in and swoop them out! Have pants with buttons or zippers on the pockets, or even wear a fanny pack! And no you will not be embarrassed or look like a fool, it is normal!
Also if you collect posters, bring or find a poster tube to keep them protected.
As for comics, books, and others, I suggest a binder, folder, or home-made cardboard-comic-book-protector to protect comics from bending! I saw the homemade protector at Long Beach comic Con last year; simply take two pieces of cardboard (small enough to carry around) tape or staple in a “pocket” and clamp them shut! Good for a few comics but still works!
9) Bring a Camera!! This will be a life-long memory so be sure not to miss any of it! Have it charged, bring your charger and extra batteries, memory cards memory cards and memory cards! Have it strapped around your neck or around your arm, and you are set!
10) Wear comfortable shoes and clothing! There will be walking, walking, and more walking! (No running allowed in the halls!) Be agile, quick, and comfy!
11) Deodorant! you know why.
12) Cosplayers: ALL weapons are checked! In the past there have been tags or ties wrapped around triggers or handles that could launch a projectile, that could be the case this year as well; some swords are also tagged to their holster or belts, but do be careful and courteous! And be sure to get rest, hydration, and be nice to the fans!
13) Fans photographing cosplayers or with cosplayers: BE RESPECTFUL!
I have cosplayed in the past and plan to cosplay this year as well, and I can not tell you how much disrespect is seen in and out of the costume. Guys: BE RESPECTFUL to the ladies! Do NOT grab their butts, chests, do not fondle or harass or attack them, and do not make obscene or provocative gestures! Sure there will be a few ladies fun and outgoing and explicit such as that, but do not ensue or start it! Politely ask for a photo with the cosplayer, and snap! Same for those muse photographing them, there will be others wanting photos too, be patient, respectful, and allow others space to take a shot as well.
14) Check outside offers and programs too. Local eateries will usually give discounts or promos if you show your WonderCon badge! Some will give you freebies or other offers as well. A lot of places will continue WonderCon or hold special events outside of the convention center so be on the lookout through social media and the convection days for what’s to come!
As we approach WonderCon, I will update and adjust my lists and tips for more information and make sure you are all readily available!
For more experienced members of the Comic-Con family, be sure to follow them on Social Media:
Tony B Kim
Enjoy the show!