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The Show is over but the wonders never end!

Written By: Abel S.

03-21-2012

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To paraphrase Admiral Ackbar…It’s a Wrap! WonderCon 2012 is now in the history books and yours truly slogged through some truly nasty weather to bring you all the pop culture greatness that Anaheim could handle. Fasten your seatbelts because here’s the recap!

Friday started off with the easiest time I’ve ever had at registration. If I was there more than two minutes, it would have been a surprise to me. Easy in, easy out, so with badge in hand, off I go! First thing I wanted to do was hit the main vendor floor and get an idea of what I was getting myself into. I started at the back of the room with the intention of working my way to the front. Lo and behold, the first person I come across is none other than Chewbacca himself, Peter Mayhew. I have met the man in the past and he was just as kind and gracious as ever. After getting his autograph on a cool litho I brought with me (thanks mom!), I was off.

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It didn’t take long for me to get the lay of the land. I have to say right off the bat that I loved the simplicity of the layout. For the most part it was just like San Diego Comic Con with each aisle clearly marked in neat rows, one after another. I’ve been to other shows where at times you don’t know which way you’re going or before you know it, you realize that you just got turned around back to an aisle you already went down. Large portions of the celebs and artist alley were separated by a wall which was a good thing as it made these people easier to hear without having to compete with the general noise/chaos emanating throughout the main room. Something else I noticed was a lack of a Hollywood presence. What I mean is, there were big panels scheduled for Sony Pictures’ new Spiderman and Resident Evil movies, but you wouldn’t know that if you were just on the vendor floor. No Sony booth (or Fox or Warner Brothers or any of the other big studios) to hawk their wares and promote their upcoming films. You’d think that the studios would at least be giving away posters/stickers/buttons for the films that had panels at WonderCon. I just found it strange but oh well.

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The big highlight for me was the panels. Now, I only made it into one on Friday but it was one that I was so looking forward to. The panel was called “It was 30 Years Ago Today: Celebrating 1982 – Greatest Geek Year Ever!” What this panel entailed was a lovingly nostalgic look at some of the genre films of 1982. Like what, you ask? How about a little film called E.T.? Perhaps you’ve heard of Blade Runner or Poltergeist or The Thing? Familiar with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan or MegaForce? (Okay, they weren’t ALL winners but they do have cult followings.) It was a real treat to hear various people from various genres talking about their love for these seminal classic films and how their impacts are still being felt in some of today’s films. It was a trip to watch the original teaser trailers for these films as they previewed each one before the next discussion would begin. Sadly, the panel was only one hour long. I could have listened to these guys reminisce for at least another hour or two. After a quick run back down to the main floor to get a few more autographs from some writers and artists, it was time to call it a day.

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Saturday brought some of the worst weather I’ve experienced in all my years of convention going. But I refused to let it dampen my spirits (pun intended!) Today was going to be a big day so off to the panels I go! First up was the Universal Pictures panel. Charlize Theron and Kristen Stewart were in attendance to premiere a five minute clip of Snow White and the Huntsman as well as an all new trailer. I’ve never heard the word ‘badass’ used so many times in such a short period as it seemed that that was the extent of Stewart’s vocabulary. How’s the trailer look? “This is badass”. How did feel to portray this new incarnation of this character? “I’m so badass in this”. How was it to ride a horse into battle? “It was badass.” (And I’m not exaggerating, people.) The footage left me feeling kinda meh, save for a few cool looking special effects. Now, if you want to talk special effects, then the next film will be right up your alley: Battleship. Alexander Skarsgard, Brooklyn Decker and director Peter Berg presented two clips and a brand new trailer for what many are calling Transformers on the High Seas. I will say that Berg did speak with a lot of passion for this project. The footage shown was quite slick in that Michael Bay kind of way. As an added perk, everyone in attendance received a poster of concept artwork.

Next up, Open Road Films presented a panel on their new film, ‘Lockout’. Maggie Grace introduced several scenes from the film and talked about how grueling the shoot was. The footage and the plot sound to me like unused ideas for another adventure with Snake Plissken. (Escape from the Space Prison?) But I was definitely intrigued by it. Also, there did appear to be chemistry between Grace and her co-star Guy Pearce.

Finally, Sony Pictures presents a panel on three major films: Resident Evil: Retribution, Looper, and of course, The Amazing Spider-Man!!! First up, director Paul W.S. Anderson and star Milla Jovovich were on hand to premiere a few clips (in 3-D no less!) from the latest film in the Resident Evil franchise. They talked about their plans for a sixth and probably final film in the series should it get green lit. A lot of laughs went around the room when during the Q&A someone asked what videogame Anderson would like to tackle next and he replied, “I would love to take a crack at Donkey Kong. Milla could dodge and jump the barrels!”

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Looper director Rian Johnson and star Joseph Gordon-Levitt presented the world premiere of the trailer for this trippy sci-fi flick. In a world where time travel is used by the mob to get rid of someone, what happens when that someone is sent back in time to be killed by his younger self? Like I said, trippy. The chemistry between Johnson and Gordon-Levitt was unmistakable. You could tell that these two had a lot of fun making this flick. This was easily my favorite of the film panels I saw today. Even more than Spider-man you ask? Yup.

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Director Marc Webb and Gwen Stacy herself, Emma Stone were on hand to present a few all new clips from the upcoming Spider-man reboot. Crowd reaction was quite favorable and both spoke about the challenges of bringing a new dimension to the wall crawler. Stone admitted that she’d never read any comic books prior to being cast but has since gone back and done her research, much to crowd approval. Also, the footage showed that there is apparent chemistry between Stone and Andrew Garfield who plays Peter Parker. I’m still not completely sold but I’m at least curious. This concluded my day as it was time to head back out into the rain and slog my way back to my car.

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Sunday brought a break from the weather and a chance to spend more time on the vendor floor. I got a few comic books signed by Joe Hill and my wife picked up a copy of World War Z signed by Max Brooks. The last day of any convention is sometimes great for bargain hunting and this was no exception. Many booths had signs advertising up to half off on select items. This was also the perfect chance to really scope out artist alley. You just never know what gems you’ll find and once again, WonderCon was no exception. My wife and I like to support independent artists. Today, we found two that I’d like to briefly share with you. First up, I met Sebastien Millon. This was his first convention and my wife and I fell in love with his art prints. I simply cannot narrow it down to a particular favorite but his fanged bunnies are adorable. Yes, I said adorable and if you disagree, you have no soul. That aside, he was a really nice guy who took the time to talk to everyone who stopped by his booth. Secondly, I met John Hervatski. After flipping through the calendar of his creation “John and Unicorn” I was sold. Aside from the charming stick drawings, the calendar itself with its irreverent comments on random dates throughout the year had us in stitches all night long.

I had a fantastic time at WonderCon. While I know it is heading back to the Bay Area next year, I would hope that those in charge got a good feel for how to put on a comic convention in Anaheim and see that the Anaheim convention center is a viable option. Since it was the first time, there were naturally some bugs that needed to be worked out. Besides, no one could have anticipated the dreadful weather. But I really hope that this was seen as perhaps a test phase for future comic conventions. If WonderCon ever comes back to Anaheim, I’ll be there!

About the Author: Abel Pinedo has worked in the entertainment industry for over a decade. He's also an annual visitor to such conventions as Comikaze, San Diego Comic Con, Wizard World and More. When he's not touring the convention circuit he can usually be found at his keyboard telling the World about his adventures.