EVENT COVERAGE: WonderCon Anaheim 2014
Mini Comic-Con Continues To Evolve & Expand In New Location...
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Springtime means convention season is well underway, and if you’re in California you probably have a stake in WonderCon. Formerly the premiere Bay Area convention, it moved to Southern California in 2012 and frankly hasn’t looked back. Attendance and excitement continues to grow, and organizer Comic-Con International even changed the official name to “WonderCon Anaheim.” While they continue to suggest that the show may return one day, it’s hard to imagine they’d give up on the boost it’s received from being held just miles away from Los Angeles (and indeed feet from Disneyland). With that proximity has come increased attention from the studios who send showrunners, executive producers, and plenty of fan favorite actors to hype shows and movies. The comic book companies too come in droves, with presentations by all of the big companies and countless small ones.
Called by many a “mini” San Diego Comic-Con, WonderCon Anaheim has everything the big show does, just pared down to a degree. On all three days you’ll find thousands of attendees perusing the exhibit hall, a wonderland of comic book companies, toy manufacturers, small press, artists, and booths selling everything you can imagine. The hall is also where you’ll find tons of signings and appearances from your favorite comic book creators, actors, and more. On Friday I spent about five hours in the exhibit hall and still didn’t see everything... and it was smaller than last year! As WonderCon Anaheim continues to evolve and differentiate itself it seems to be shedding some of the “Hollywood” influence at least in the exhibit hall; this time there was a higher percentage of small booths and independent artists, etc. Comic books are definitely still a major part of this convention, with the largest booths and banners and best placements belonging to DC, Valiant, Image, IDW, Boom/Archaia, and more. In the same vein, more of the convention exclusives this year were comic books than ever before.
So what about toys? Each year at WonderCon we see a different mix of toy and collectibles companies showing up, and this time around there were some really great ones. First off, nestled within the DC Comics booth was a series of display cases devoted to Batman toys (it’s the Dark Knight’s 75th anniversary this year), and it included some brand new and upcoming items from DC Collectibles and NECA. Up front in the hall were a couple of other companies starting with Kotobukiya. The Japanese giant had a wall of cases with all sorts of interesting statues and other items from their Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and other series. Another returning sight at Anaheim was eFX, where in addition to all of the cool prop and costume replicas attendees could check out a prototype of the upcoming Y-Wing! New to WonderCon was Pop Culture Shock, though it got plenty of attention with its epic statues. Even more toys and collectibles dotted the exhibit hall like Kuso Vinyl, Hyperactive Monkey, Super 7, and others.
As I noted previously, this year’s WonderCon had an even bigger presence of “independent” exhibitors than before. These included everything from big time comic book artists selling their own stuff and drawing sketches to first time artisans trying to grow their fanbases. And their products ran the gamut from portraits of pop culture characters to unique stuffed animals, embroidery and apparel, and just about anything else you could imagine.
Beyond the exhibit hall was a full weekend’s worth of programming with screenings, anime, signings, workshops, and of course the huge presentations in the arena next door featuring blockbuster films and the most popular TV shows. Just some of the properties shown off included Revolution, Edge of Tomorrow, Into the Storm, Godzilla, Lucy, and Deliver Us from Evil, and that’s just to name a few. WonderCon also hosted the world premiere of the latest DC animated feature film Son of Batman which I (along with a very crowded arena) caught on Friday night. Many of the comic book companies held panels to discuss where their major storylines are going, and featured talks gave fans the opportunity to ask questions of their favorite creators. Drawing, acting, voice over work, and more got their time as well, and eager new talent got to hear from their mentors and get advice.
All of that is still just the tip of the iceberg considering the three full days of WonderCon Anaheim activities, not to mention everything to do around the convention center like Disneyland. If you’re in Southern California in the Spring I highly recommend stopping by; the convention truly has a bit of everything while still being manageable and not too crowded. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you at upcoming shows like BotCon and Comic-Con!
Article by Scott Rubin
Photos by Scott Rubin and David Yeh
Last edited by JeffSaylor; 04-30-2014 at 02:13 PM.