I am finally home on the East Coast after my first visit to San Francisco’s very own WonderCon. Wow!!! What an event it was! I have been to a few comic conventions over the years in Baltimore, but they could not compare to the sheer size, energy, and excitement that Wonder Con has to offer. For three days, WonderCon provides the “fan boy” inside all of us with the one bit of nirvana that we searching for.
WonderCon is just not for comic book junkies, there is also something for gamers, fans of pop culture and TV/Movies –basically something for everyone. 2009’s event had it all – from hundred of vendors, panels to sit in on from various publishers to TV Shows/Moves, and autographs sessions with stars like Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Erin Grey, and Adam West to name a few.
Like WonderCon’s sister’s show ComicCon International in San Diego, Hollywood plays an important part in the convention by promoting new movies and hit television shows . Hollywood did not disappoint with panels that included the full cast & director of the Watchmen, Star Trek, Chuck, Terminator: Salvation, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Up (Pixar), and Wonder Woman the movie.
These panels from Hollywood are not only filled with your favorite stars, writers, and directors, but the audiences are treated to either sneak peek of video clips to full screenings of the TV show/movie before its release to the public. If the show or movie is any good, this fantastic way creates an incredible buzz before it hit the streets. I guess you say this is a form of guerilla marketing, which is highly effective.
Let me take you into the Watchmen panel so you can get an idea what a movie panel is like. Everyone is given the disclaimer no video recording of the intellectual property and yada…yada…yada. After a few minutes director of the Watchmen Zack Snyder comes out to roaring reception from an enthusiastic audience. Without too much prep from Zack Snyder, the audience was treated to special showing of the first 30 minutes of the Watchmen movie. This is not it…after the clip, the cast of Watchmen come on stage to join Zack Snyder to discuss the behind the scene experience on the film along with a Q&A from the audience. During the Q&A the audience learns that a Director’s Cut of the Watchmen will be released to selected theaters in July that will push the run time of the film to 3hrs 10 minutes. WOW!!! This same director’s cut will later be released to DVD this fall sometime around October.
The next panel is for the new J.J. Adams movie – Star Trek. The audience is once again treated to a special appearance by the director J.J. Adams, which I can say is a hoot! Someone who looks like he is a lot of fun, full of energy, and enjoys what he does, which is evident on the projects he creates from Alias to Lost to Fringe. J.J. Adams is now joined by the cast of Star Trek – crew of the Enterprise. One pleasures of this panel was hearing the stars of Star Trek tell behind the scenes stories of how the great Leonard Nimoy helped guide Zac Quinto through the Star Trek universe that Gene Rodenberry gave us many years ago. Plus the audience got to see the new Star Trek trailer that not been released. This type of information and access was not exclusive to these two movies, but all the TV shows and movies at Wonder Con.
To give you an idea of how popular theses panels are, each session is held in the main event room that holds 3500 people. And I can honestly say that there was not an empty seat to be had for the panels I attended. Not only was the room full to capacity, there was also a continuous line at the door two people wide that stretched 40 to 50 feet down the hall.
As special as the TV/Movie panels are the real magic is walking the floor of the convention. You never know who you might literaly bump into from the press covering the convention to regular Joes like Henry Winkler, artist Jim Lee, and even Darth Vader.
TV/Movies are not the only ones who host panels, so does the various comic publishing houses too. I had the chance to sit in on the DC Nation panel. In this panel the audience learned that eight new Batman titles will drop in the coming months that will focus around the Battle of the Cowl which will determine who will be the new guardian of Gotham in Batman’s absence. One of the tiles will be called Gotham Sirens. This book will be a loose team up book of Batman’s female counterparts – Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Harley. This book will look at the villain’s side of the equation as Gotham tries to survive the absence of Batman. The other news that seemed to float under the radar was the statement that Batman will be back from the “dead” in Nov 2009. Yeah!
Panels and walking the floor is only half the fun. Shopping at the various vendors, getting autographs, and people watching are the other half of the vent. It is amazing the various characters you will see from a full-size remote-controlled R2D2, to Batman, Joker, Power Puff Girls, Storm Troopers, Captain America, Women of BSG, Wonder Woman, Watchmen, Brown Coats from Firefly, and Cylons.
After three days of nirvana, I can honestly say that it was worth the trip cross country trip to experience everything that WonderCon has to offer.