Review of WonderCon 2011

Last week, a few of us decided to take a spontaneous trip to San Francisco to attend WonderCon 2011. I’ve heard about it for years but never felt motivated to attend since SDCC was only 1 hour away opposed to the 6 hours of SF. But since I already had press passes with BabbleOn5, my comrades and I decided to take the trek to the Bay area. So for all those SDCC fans ‘wonder’ing if WonderCon is worth a visit, here are my thoughts:

San Francisco is an awesome town to host a large con. It’s beautiful, lots to see, and creatively designed. The public transportation is excellent. We were staying about 45 minutes away but took to tram in for about $10 round trip and the drop off point was close to the con center. The Moscone Convention Center was in a great location for a con of this size (40k)- not too big or not too small. Walking from one end to the other doesn’t require marathon training but is spread out enough to keep attendees from climbing all over each other. Con prices were very reasonable with $20/day or $40/3-day pass (press passes were comped). It is two stories with a mezzanine half floor.

We were immediately greeted by a platoon of Stormtroopers welcoming in attendees. The Imperial troops were at all the doors and helping to direct traffic- it set the tone for the whole day. WonderCon wasn’t taking its self too seriously and was having fun welcoming guests.

The con floor was pretty impressive, much larger than I expected. It was probably half the size of SDCC which is still pretty large. It was lacking the large studio set pieces that SDCC fans are used to but there was still plenty to see. With the lack of ginormous sets, there was more focus on comics which was nice.

DC and Warner Bros was definitely pushing Green Lantern like crazy. There were several sections of GL gear promoting the upcoming movie. Surprisingly, Thor and Captain America didn’t have a huge presence. There was one stage to take pictures holding the shield and hammer but that was about it. Marvel also didn’t have panels promoting their movies unlike Green Lantern. Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, and the new trailer got a positive response. I have to admit that I am more hopeful after seeing the new footage.

For the first time, WonderCon sold out passes by the start of the Con so I was already skeptical of over-crowdedness. However, for first half of Saturday, the crowds weren’t too bad. It was a strange, disorienting feeling to walk through the floor without getting beat up by the nerd masses. By the end of the day that changed. The crowds definitely grew and I was back doing the ‘con-shuffle’ through the packed aisle. Here are some cosplay pics:

The Esplanade Ballroom was the ‘Hall H’ of the Moscone Center. For Cowboys and Aliens, I was able to walk in about 30 minutes before to get a seat. It was probably 2/3rds the size of Ballroom 20 so maybe 2-3k fans. By the start of the panel it was packed out. Audio was loud but not as clear as I would have liked. In the footage, the dialogue was muffled and I was sitting in a good seat.

One of the nice things about a smaller con is the accessibility of artist and creators. I was able to meet DC creative genius Geoff Loeb with ease. He offered me a cushy job at DC and I said ‘what, and leave Crazy4ComicCon- forget about it!’ 🙂

Jon Favreau ran a great panel for Cowboys & Aliens. He is a true fanboy and shared how much he appreciates us nerds. He credited WonderCon and Comic Con for the success of the Ironman franchise. He even brought new exclusive footage cut for WonderCon that was different from Comic Con. He even gave us the only glimpse of the aliens until the movie is released. It was a phenominal panel. The SUPER panel with Rainn Wilson was also fantastic.

The wait to get Robert Kirkman’s autograph was only about 30 minutes. One of my buddies got his Comic Con annual autographed and said Kirkman was very cool.

Saturday evening we attended a screening of SUPER which turned out to be a great movie. It was a darker version of Kick-Ass and with much more emotional impact. If you can stomach the graphic scenes and love Rainn Wilson then go see it. The movie concluded with a Q & A with director James Gunn. It was very insightful and was a fantastic way to wrap up the day.

I also had the privilege to connect with fans of Crazy4ComicCon like @KWhiteHouse@Onigun, and @ArkhamAsylumDoc. My favorite thing in the world is to meet readers of this website and looking forward to doing more of it at SDCC.Overall I was very pleased with WonderCon. It was busy without being over-whelming. There was big time stars while staying intimate. I didn’t make it into all the panels I wanted to but I also didn’t line up for any of them. Best of all, I was able to meet some of the staff of Comic Con to communicate my appreciation for great events like this one and SDCC. They were all very cordial and humble which only makes me a bigger fan. I would recommend making WonderCon an annual pilgrimage if you are a SDCC fan. It’s a lot of fun with half the effort. It’s a great preparation to the big mamma in July.

9 thoughts on “Review of WonderCon 2011

  1. If I lived closer, ya know not on the East Coast lol, I’d probably check out Wondercon. It looks exciting and has enough of everything to keep people happy.

  2. Thank you for that coverage all weekend. My wife and I were close to heading up (we live in Riverside), but with Long Beach and Wizard Anaheim coming up, we opted to save the money. It was great to follow your tweets and live vicariously 🙂

    • Shawn, Thank you so much for your encouraging words. It was my pleasure to post and cover the event to help readers like you. I will be at Anaheim too so hope to meet you there. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  3. I have been going to wondercon since 2007 and i have noticed that it has gotten more crowed since then. but i have also noticed that in the last 2 years that the panels havent been as good as in the past. but i do enjoy going to wondercon over comiccon because of how intimate it is. plus i dont have to fly any where to go to it ;). you can check out some of my photos from this years wondercon on my flickr (sorry i dont have room to post photos from past years)

    • While the crowds at Comic Con have grown to ridiculous levels, it’s all part of the experience. I have to mentally prepare myself, but now I have come to embrace the chaos. However, that was one of the appealing parts of WonderCon. I don’t think I could manage two stressful Cons in one year. Thanks for the pics and thanks for commenting!

  4. It is great to read this type of review from an SDCC fan pov, since that’s my perspective, too. Great post and nice pictures; it gives the feeling of an alternative large con, which is what I was hoping for. Headed for any other local cons, such as Anaheim Comic Con?

    • Thanks! Def check it out next year. Yea, I am going to the one day Expo in Long Beach on April 23 and then Anaheim after that. Maybe will meet you there. Thx for commenting!

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