The stars come out in Southern California for another Comic Con...
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With summer quickly approaching you can feel the convention season ramping up. While the king of all conventions won't be until mid-July (San Diego Comic-Con, of course), there are a lot of other, smaller events going on around the country, and indeed around the world. One of the organizations that put on these conventions is Wizard Entertainment, holding Wizard World events across most of the year. This weekend, I attended their Anaheim Comic Con for the first time.
Any Comic Con needs a few things to make it successful: cool booths, lots of products, interesting guests, comics, toys, and of course the fans. Anaheim definitely made the cut. A three day convention, Anaheim featured tons of celebrity guests signing autographs, a few key panels, and an exhibit hall full of toy and comics purveyors and other unique things. I spent Saturday cruising the hall and seeing what everyone had to offer.
A good sign when attending a new event? The first thing I saw was a 501st Stormtrooper. Several troopers roamed the halls, enforcing order and providing great photo opportunities. Once inside the exhibit hall, it was tough to decide what to look at first. On the left was a collection of cool cars from films and television including Red Mist's awesome Mustang from Kick-***, Mad Max's Ford Falcon Interceptor, Doc's DeLorean from Back to the Future, and the classic Batmobile (sadly, no photography). Nearby were some cool booths like Propworx with their replicas and Limited Soles with limited edition shoes celebrating Superman, Batman, and the Joker.
Past the cars and other fun stuff the hall split off into distinct sections: the celebrities and the rest. Anaheim Comic Con, being so close to Los Angeles, featured a fairly huge array of guests. Each "celebrity" manned his or her own table, selling wares and signing autographs. Unfortunately for the casual fan, most of the guests required payment even for friendly photographs, and a few were even standoffish. Just some of those in attendance were Gil Gerard, Erin Gray, Shannen Doherty, Jewel Staite, Kevin Sorbo, Lindsay Wagner, Verne Troyer, and many, many more. Also on hand was a large contingent of Suicide Girls!
Heading the other direction led to the bulk of the booths, with a few larger ones at the front for Wizard, Kotobukiya, Geek Chic, and a few others. Collectible companies both internet-based (TFAW, etc.) and local (Phat Collectibles, etc.) sold toys next to booths composed entirely of comic book stacks. Top sellers included the newly released DC Universe Classics Series 13 (Trigon) and Blackest Night figures, while perennial favorites like old Marvel Legends abounded. Some other companies got into the mix like Utilikilts (I picked up two!) and the energy drinks Venom, Bite Me, and Manna. A small Artist's Alley wrapped around the back of the exhibit hall, near the usual plethora of Star Wars-related groups.
On the toy front, the big companies presenting were Kotobukiya and Shocker Toys. Both sold products and displayed cool prototypes, Wolverine/War Machine and Indie Spotlight/Mallows respectively.
Other than the Exhibit Hall, Anaheim Comic Con also offered gaming tournaments (Magic, YuGiOh, and Dungeons and Dragons), and a series of panels and special events. Big stars like William Shatner and Stan Lee had their own signings at the same time Q&As were held for the original Bionic Woman, Futurama, Empire Strikes Back, Superman, original Batman TV show, etc. Probably because there were so many other conventions going on at the same time in the Anaheim Convention Center (like gourmet and specialty coffees!), the panels ended up being pretty far away. At night there were more adult activities like a screening of the new Drawn Together Movie and sponsored parties.
A solid mid-sized convention, Anaheim Comic Con packed a good amount of content and a lot of exhibit hall activities into a fun weekend. Autograph seekers and those looking for good deals had a lot of opportunities. I'd rate Anaheim about on par with the Long Beach Comic Con (it had a more impressive exhibit hall, but fewer panels), and it's something I'll definitely check out again next year. See you there!
for a Wizard World Anaheim Comic Con photo gallery tour!
By Scott Rubin