As I stepped into the main hall of the LA Convention Center, I was at once engulfed by the enthusiastic cloud of geek culture. Having never attended WonderCon before, I hadn’t been quite sure what to expect. Boy, was I not prepared for the bustling crowds, the gentle roar of hundreds of conversations, the flashing lights – and yet amidst it all, it was invigorating… a true testament to the uniqueness of pop culture. Overall, I had a blast!
WonderCon 2016 was probably a dream come true for most pop culture enthusiasts; but here I am, a reporter for Entertainment Earth – a company founded on films like Star Wars – with a dirty confession: I was not always a pop culture aficionado. In fact, as few as two years ago, I didn’t know which superheroes fell under the realm of DC Comics or Marvel, and certainly didn’t have an educated answer to my big Entertainment Earth interview question: “Star Wars or Star Trek. Which is better? Justify your answer.” (Which, by the way, I answered eloquently, despite not having seen either.)
That being said, WonderCon was accessible to any fan – even those as “n00b-ish” as me. The cool thing about WonderCon was that there was something for everyone. Fans of all stages (and ages!) got to join together in their enthusiasm for film, TV shows, comics, and more – and hey, if you aren’t a traditional fan, no problem! Just the art alone, which you could find displayed in almost every booth, was a huge draw.
I ran into some independent comic artists who floored me with their talent. Overall, there’s a sense of camaraderie among the crowds bound together by a common interest, and a very friendly atmosphere from casual booth owners and patrons alike. A word to the wise: If you aren’t chatting with the booth owners (particularly in Artists’ Alley) you’re missing a very special aspect of WonderCon.
I suppose my only point of criticism is that the LA Convention Center wasn’t exactly “newbie-friendly,” and it didn’t seem like any of the paper guides were immediately helpful (i.e.: having to leaf through 15 pages to find directions to a panel.) The events were all very spread out and it seemed sometimes like I was in empty expanses of hallways that didn’t lead anywhere.
When I did find the panels, they were a complete delight. I went to Saturday’s “Wonder Woman: Will She Be Done Right?” panel and I loved the insight provided by her comic creators and other experts in the field of the Amazonian Princess. For instance, what did the creators ask themselves in forming her character? “What does she hate about herself?” And then, “What do we hate about her?”
Per Wonder Woman aficionados, the various origin stories provide different perspectives and diversity, which reflect each individual reader’s vision. They discussed a sex-positive image for Wonder Woman, and how her new Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice outfit echoes that of Xena, which they consider a favorable portrayal. Suffice it to say, the panel was quite interesting!
So, how does WonderCon stack up to, say, San Diego Comic-Con? I happen to think it was a very similar experience. For one thing, there were cosplayers galore! The crowds were gigantic, but manageable. I saw less “big” booths than I saw at San Diego Comic-Con, and those that I recognized from San Diego were noticeably smaller than their SDCC counterparts. I think WonderCon is more focused on small, indie designers than huge brands – which, by the way, is not indicative of WonderCon being less special. Conversely, I think that makes WonderCon unique in its own right.
The panels? The lights? (The cameras? The action?) Oh, goodness! It was sensory overload at WonderCon 2016, and yet this reporter left very happy, with a bag of goodies and an experience to last a lifetime!
Have you ever been to WonderCon? Let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear about your experiences!