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Take a Trip to WonderCon 2016

Written by: Abel S. Pinedo

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Another WonderCon has come to a close and it's time to recap all the fun and exciting things I experienced at the show. WonderCon has always been one of my favorite conventions. This year the verable cousin to San Diego Comic Con came to Los Angeles for one year only. It's been awhile since I've been to the Los Angeles Convention Center. I'm very happy to say that parking was a breeze, always a good sign to the start of a con.

The first thing I needed to do upon arrival was head upstairs to get my badge. New to this Con was the usage of RFID technology with regards to the badge. It looks like any ordinary badge I've used in the past except it's hard plastic instead of paper. More importantly, at various entrances and exits, you must tap your badge to the scanner to get a green light to proceed. This new system made entry and exit into the show a quick and streamlined process. This was a great way to handle the large crowds that attend such a popular show.

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As this was a new venue for WonderCon, the first thing I did was study the schedule of events and the show floor map. Once I had planned my day I hit the show floor. One of the first places I stopped at was the booth of our longtime friends, Golden Apple Comics. To celebrate Easter weekend, they were having an egg hunt. For $1 an egg or $10 for twelve eggs, you had the chance at some pretty sweet prizes. Every egg had a ticket inside, guaranteeing at least a free comic book, but if you had a numbered golden ticket then you won the corresponding prize. Well lo and behold, guess who walked away with a Magic The Gathering 2015 Core Set? Yes indeed, I was a big winner! This weekend was definitely starting off in my favor!

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Friday brought some big news. Netflix and DreamWorks TV held a panel to announce their upcoming exclusive new animated series, Voltron: Legendary Defender. Lucky fans were the first to see the teaser trailer [link] and concept artwork was also shown to the public. As a child of the 80's who watched the original cartoon, you can imagine my excitement. As a bonus everyone at the panel received a limited edition lithograph!

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The second highlight of Friday was the panel celebrating the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. Coming this summer is a two volume book entitled The 50-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored and Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek. Now before you say, haven't there already been enough behind the scenes books about Star Trek, I can assuredly tell you not of this depth. Featuring brand new stories from people involved with the Trek franchise. Some of whom have never been interviewed before now.  Apparently the process of writing the book became so expansive that the original book concept was split into two books. They will be released in June and August respectively. With those revelations, day one was in the books. This two volume set is sure to be at the top of every Trek fan's wish list.

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Saturday kicked off with THE major announcement of the weekend, the DC Comics Rebirth event. Spanning across several months, beginning in June, this serves as a reboot to all the major DC titles. DC held a special panel hosted by Jim Lee and Dan Didio. This event was created to reinvigorate the classic DC characters, as well as bring in new readers. Based on the plethora of big names attached to the various forthcoming titles, I'm actually really excited about this historic new event. You can view the entire press conference at this link: https://www.youtube.com/user/DCEntertainmentTV

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Next up I found myself at a panel called Top Cow Productions: From Then to Now. Top Cow was founded by Marc Silvestri in 1992. Silvestri as well as the other panelists talked about the early days and how the company was heading into the direction of video games. During the panel someone asked why there haven't been any films based on properties such as Witchblade or Cyberforce. Silvestri was very direct when he said that while they are always working on negotiating for those types of projects, they just never feel confident to announce anything unless they know for a fact that it is indeed a 'go' project. He stated, "how many times have your head about a film project being announced only for it later to go nowhere or you never hear about it ever again? We don't want to be the kind of company that talks but doesn't deliver." I have the utmost respect for that. After all, why tease the fan with the remote possibility when you'd rather please the fan with the guarantee?

Next up I found myself at the Warner Brothers / New Line panel. A brand new trailer was revealed for director James Wan's The Conjuring 2. Wan also dropped a few juicy tidbits about the next film. A little project called Aquaman! The other horror trailer making its debut was for a film called Lights Out. Featuring multiple jump scares, you could tell that the crowd was really into the footage. As the days events started to wind down, I made my way outside the convention and headed for an offsite event celebrating the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! More details on that adventure can be found here.

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I hit the show floor early on Sunday It was time for some great comic related panels. First up was Breaking into Comics the Marvel Way. I like going to these types of panel and hearing about how some of the creators got their start in the industry. It's also great to hear their advice while adding humorous anecdotes along the way. Comic artists and writers have some of the weirdest and most fun stories. Panels such as these are essential for any budding comic artist. For instance, Russell Dauterman talked about having patience when having your portfolio reviewed. Up till five years ago, he himself was sitting in the audience at WonderCon hoping to learn tips on how to get in the biz. Charles Soule talked about the importance of learning your rights as an artist from a legal standpoint so your work doesn't become compromised. It was all very informative, and a great help to anyone looking to break into the business.

The panel immediately following was originally supposed to be Sunday Conversation with Jim Lee and Dan DiDio from DC Entertainment. However, Lee was replaced at the last minute with Scott Snyder and Jimmy Palmiotti. First up was a brief discussion on the newly launched DC Talent Development Workshop. (https://www.dccomicstalentworkshop.com/) Basically, DC is searching for the next generation of writers and artists. With this workshop, budding creators will work directly with some of the key voices at DC Entertainment. It's about new ideas and fresh new faces. New creative voices mixing with the veterans and working towards the future of DC. It was an exciting thing to witness.

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Dan DiDio and Jimmy Palmiotti from DC Comics.

The panelists then shared stories about early comic book buying and asked the audiences to share tales of their own 'comic' misadventures, particularly about taking risks with the characters and storylines. They mentioned that they were nervously excited about the upcoming Rebirth series, but that you have to do events such as this to keep readers interested. After the panel, I had a quiet moment to ask Palmiotti a follow-up to his comment about taking risks. I asked him, particularly with Harley Quinn, if he'd ever written anything only to decide at the last minute that it was too risky. He quickly replied in the negative. He told me that there had been times where the publishers had negated something he had written but he personally had never changed his mind. He told me, "It's always about taking that risk." He was very pleasant and honest. I can certainly appreciate that, and it was a real honor to speak with him.

As the show drew to a close I made my way to the exhibit hall. It was time for some last minute shopping. Sometimes as the show winds down you can find some great deals or even discover something you missed out on the day before. I picked up a bunch of comics as well as some merchandise from The Walking Dead. Finally, I made the rounds and said my goodbyes to our friends and fans. As I made my way towards the exit, I thought to myself that while this was yet another successful WonderCon for me, I can't wait for it to return next year. And with that, we are now fully into Con season! I wonder where I'll wind up next? See ya in the trenches!

About the Author: Abel S. Pinedo has worked in the entertainment industry for over a decade. He's also an annual visitor to such conventions as WonderCon, 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.