My WonderCon 2017 Experience – by Mario Wario

 By Mario Wario

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay / My oh, my, what a ‘WonderCon’ day! Yep, WonderCon was back in Anaheim, California. It wasn’t held in downtown Los Angeles this year and Anaheim also has Disneyland, so I had to start it like that. Who doesn’t like going to Disneyland? This year’s WonderCon took place March 31st through April 2nd at the Anaheim Convention Center. I wondered if it would be able to recapture its ‘magic’—without the help of Tinker Bell, of course—due to being back at this location. The size of the crowds each day was a pretty good way to judge that. For example, the show floor was always buzzing, and the amount of cosplayers I saw this time around was more than last year. So the excitement was still there, which was good to see. But what was my experience in doing all the days? How would my third year in a row in doing this comic book convention go? Let’s find out—so hold onto your seats!

On Friday, my main goal was to get the exclusive WonderCon shirts (and the Tiki Mug!) at their merchant booth, along with getting a Robotech toy exclusive over at the Toynami booth. But before that quest could begin, just like Link making sure everything he has is ready for his journey to save Hyrule in every Legend of Zelda game, I, too, made sure everything was in working order. But there was one thing I couldn’t control—my RFID badge was not turned on (Yay). So when I got to the main RFID portal location right outside of the convention center, the staff kept on using their phones to check on my badge. I felt like a celebrity, to be honest; the attention was quite something. Now as the staff finally figured out what was wrong with my badge, a person in a blue shirt guided me to the badge help desk and once I got there, I got a new 3-day badge. After that, no problem to speak of, so I’m sorry Loki, you couldn’t stop me here. Overall, I was quite pleased with how determined each staff member was in trying to fix the issue for me.

Moving on, once inside I waited in Hall D with a family member in order to enter the show floor. At 11:30am, the doors finally opened up. I was able to get what I wanted (insert that Zelda theme when catching an item) plus navigating the floor was really easy, even in the afternoon as more people came in. I was really pleased with the layout, because you could get from one location to another pretty quickly, without any problems. While it is not the same size as its big brother—San Diego Comic-Con, the other convention Comic-Con International (CCI) runs—it was still a good one. The size of the floor felt right. You had so many booths to visit. My favorite one was Andromeda Designs Limited, since they sell all things science fiction/fantasy. The two people running it were really nice, and the prices were just right overall. On Friday I did not do any panels, as I wanted to use the day to explore the show floor some more. But to be honest, there wasn’t anything really I wanted to see; however, that would change on Saturday. Overall, the first day went really well and WonderCon was off to a good start from my perspective.

On Saturday, my other goals were to try for certain panels and to do some signings. First, to do any CCI-sponsored signing, you have to take part in a ticket drawings in Hall D. My first target was the Wonder Woman director signing, which was Patty Jenkins. With the help from some friends, I had a chance to try for a winning ticket. On my first try I was able to get a winning ticket, so now it was time to buy a California lottery ticket. Hey, you never know? Later, I helped another friend get the signing they wanted, while two others helped me with the Voltron signing. Overall, the ticket drawings I did were handled well. Now I can’t speak for the other ones that were going on at the same time, but it looked like they were moving quite smoothly—I didn’t notice any problems.

After that, I went to the third floor to line up for the 300AB room. My main goal was to see the Agents of Shield panel at 2pm. After waiting in line for over an hour, I was able to get in. Now here comes the fun part of the day because my first signing was at 1:30pm, which was Voltron: Legendary Defender. The voice cast (minus Steven Yeun), two executive producers, and one editor were going to be there. Thus if needed, they were there to defend us from the Galra Empire! Steven was probably dealing with Negan still. (Yes, I went there!) By the way, if you were wondering, I was using a re-entry pass to do this before the next panel.

Once it got started, the signing itself was really fun, since you had a chance to chat with the voice cast and the others. All of them where having a great time being at WonderCon and meeting the fans. For instance, I showed Bex Taylor-Klaus (the voice of Pidge Gunderson) that on her Wikipedia page, since it was April 1st, someone had put in that she played as Tommy Oliver in the new Power Rangers film. She thought that was hilarious to read. Got to love the internet sometimes, right? Now before the fun stuff got started, getting to meet them all was torture. For instance, I got there at 1:10pm and I wasn’t far back in line. Only the wristband folks like me were in line. The signing did start on time, which began moving really fast; the staff kept on saying to make the meet and greet go fast, but as time went on that didn’t happen. The line too many times would not move for 20 minutes, or maybe even longer. You could tell each staff member was not happy in what they were seeing, so they tried their best to make it the line go faster, but it only failed in the end. So seeing this, doing the math on how slow the line was going, I went back 300AB to see what I could in that room. But get this, when I got back at 2:55pm, my spot in line didn’t reach the booth itself to get the poster until 3pm. Meanwhile, my other signing was at 3pm to meet the director of Wonder Woman. Luckily, by having a wristband, I was fine. I just didn’t want to be too late for that one. It turned out that I was 15 minutes late to meet Patty Jenkins at the DC booth, but it worked out anyway. She was really nice to talk to and that signing only took 2 minutes to do. So yeah, I experienced two different types of lines on the same day—one that went really slow and another that went very fast. Sure, you could argue that I maybe tried to do too much all at once, but I have done this before. I went with past knowledge, but what else could I do where there was so much great stuff going on?

The next stop of the day was the Warner Bros. (WB) panel in the arena. Once I got to the arena, an episode of Riverdale was being shown to the crowd. After that was over, the WB panel finally got started. But before I go any further, I will say that I was expecting this panel to be good or at least exciting. For instance, WB/DC were advertising the Wonder Woman film not only at the DC booth (which also had a full costume on display from the movie), but there were two ‘Wonder Con’ banners (with Wonder Woman themes) next to the main WonderCon sign in the lobby. I saw a bus with this ad as well. There was also a Wonder Woman cosplay meetup at the DC booth with Patty Jenkins, plus there was that signing in which I took part. So I expected something neat to see. Justice League is coming out later this year, so I thought maybe we would see something about that film, too. Plus the arena was quite full so others clearly thought the same thing. An awesome panel would definitely help WonderCon 2017 even more. The first movie, Annabelle: Creation was presented, which started off okay. The director of the film (David Sandberg) began talking about the movie and he did have some interesting things to say, that I thought were cool. However, I knew the crowd wasn’t into it much, because only 3 people from the entire audience of thousands went up to the microphone to ask a question about his movie. But when the recent Justice League trailer came up, everyone got excited. We all thought we were going to be getting some new stuff and/or that some of the cast might appear. But nothing happened. Then the Wonder Woman director (Patty Jenkins) and the executive producer (Geoff Johns) took the stage. We did get two new clips from the film, which were rad to see first, but without any cast members being there, this part itself was sort of boring. Again, as with the first guest, it was interesting to hear what these two had to say about the film; however, it was nothing new. Once the panel was over (which ended roughly 30 minutes early I believe), talking to friends we all agreed that WB didn’t do enough to satisfy the fans. Meanwhile, WonderCon didn’t get that big panel it was hungry for. (Interesting enough, the next day, the two ‘Wonder Con’ banners were gone and were replaced with the normal WonderCon ones, as if the con itself wasn’t pleased with the showing.)

Later, I took part in the Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz, and Bobby Curnow signing at the IDW booth. All 3 were really nice, but meeting Eastman for the first time was awesome! I’m a huge Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan, thanks to watching the cartoons and collecting the toys, thus this was one opportunity I wasn’t going to miss. IDW did a good job handling this signing and this line moved fast as the DC one. I also got to go the Masquerade later that night and as always, it was a fun event, hosted by Ashley Eckstein.

On Sunday, I tried for two more signings by doing a ticket drawing again and then a standby for another. While I didn’t get anything, I was able to help a friend get into the Lucifer signing, which made my day. Meanwhile, as the day went along, I decided to do some last minute shopping on the floor before heading to the Talk Back Panel. I arrived 14 minutes late, thinking that the panel would last for one hour, because it was listed to be that long but hey, it had only lasted for seven minutes. No, I am not kidding. Oddly enough, I did get an email a few days later from CCI on taking a survey about WonderCon 2017. Pretty much asking me if I took the blue pill or the red one. (Okay, the email didn’t so you got me there.)

I give this WonderCon a B+. Why? Well I think it needed more big name panels—either more from the television side or for sure from the movie studios—plus it needed WB to deliver a homerun; to help the con become memorable in the long term. Hopefully for next year the panel lineup will get better. I know CCI can’t control this, but I hope the studios do realize that this comic book convention is worth coming to. On the other hand, the show floor and what it offered, as well as the cosplay I saw, was excellent. The signings were fun to do as well, even if one took forever to complete. Overall, WonderCon 2017 was successful in my book, since it was an enjoyable experience. It was done well by CCI, regardless of the WB panel being something of a low-light.