Wondercon

WonderCon is normally a one-day event for me. I usually only go on Saturday to hit the big panels and hang out with friends. Recently, however, I’ve come to realize that there is more nighttime programming than I had previously thought, plus an anime room, so armed with a press pass I decided I’d see if I could keep myself entertained for all three days.

Thus it was that on my Friday lunch break I headed over to Moscone South and beheld the line outside the venue that was already surprisingly long, though not as daunting as in years past. I looked around for Joe Price, failing to spot him but instead running into Kim of the SF Browncoats on her way to the always-popular California Browncoats booth.

After finding Mr. Price and doing a quick tour of the main exhibitor hall I reluctantly went back to work. Hilariously, on the way back we passed the Gold Club on Howard Street and witnessed a whole troop of Star Wars costumers pouring out of its entrance. The doormen where unfazed but curious and we stopped to let them know that WonderCon was going on just down the street. My firm belief that the Nerd Wars are over and our side won was confirmed when the tall, dapper looking guy at the door nodded sagely and said, “Right, Wondercon, that’s like the San Francisco version of the San Diego Comic-Con, right?”

The afternoon dragged on until I made my escape and headed back in time to catch the second half of the Boom! Studios panel, which was very interesting. I have been hearing good things about this relatively new comics publisher which (among other things) publishes a series of highly entertaining anthology books: Cthulhu Tales, Pirate Tales and Zombie Tales. Another trip to the exhibitor hall yielded up posters for Stephen Colbert’s Tek Jensen comic and the movie Hot Fuzz plus information on all sorts of upcoming movies, books, cons and comics.

After a quick jaunt to find food and coffee, I managed to arrive back during the nighttime screening of the winners from the Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival. Vinyl Wars, which was halfway through when I got there, was amusing; next was Post-Mortem which started out strong but lost me towards the end. The last two films were both excellent: Outside, a science fiction short that was well done and intelligent, and Zombie Prom which I’d expected to be low budget and trashy but turned out to be a 50s musical extravaganza with RuPaul that blew everyone’s socks off.

Sunday I promised myself I would arrive early and managed to show up promptly at 2:30, in time to swing by the Borderlands booth to say howdy and then miss every interesting panel (just like at a real con), but catch glimpses of all sorts of fabulous costumes including an Electro with actual sparks coming out of his fingertips, Klingons and Stormtroopers galore, and a pair of Yip Yips. After running into Kevin and Andy of Ahwahneecon fame and both Joes, we all headed out for some food and then to Raven O’Neill’s birthday party over at the Marriott’s bar. I had never been in this San Francisco landmark and recommend it despite the hotel-priced drinks because of its amazing views of the city. Pretty soon we had about thirty fen drinking and eating cake, about half of those dressed in costumes, including a host of Klingons, some mad scientists, and a sexy robot. The other patrons mostly seemed amused, although a few heads ducked in, looked alarmed and scurried off.

Back to the con for the Masquerade. We arrived just in time to hit the intermission which included a handful of trailers, mostly uninspiring, and then a halftime show by Mr. Lobo. MC Phil Foglio eventually came back out to announce the winners, which where all great and included quite a few familiar faces, such as Bryan and Mette who won best in show for their Lego Star Wars costumes.

After the Masquerade LucasFilm presented the Dark Side vs. Light Side short film contest, which I’d seen part of last year. Highlights were Trooper Clerks, Pink Five\ Strikes Back and Recruitment. The Light Side won, but we all know Jedis cheat.

Sunday was the day I managed to fit the most panels in, first with the “2007 and Beyond” panel which included past BayCon favorite Chase Masterson, Richard Hatch, Billy Campbell, and Jeff Loeb, and was quite interesting, revealing that Richard Hatch in particular is a genre fan. I was unimpressed with the Jericho pilot when it originally aired so I only went to that panel in order to get decent seats for the following one. However, I may pick up the show when it comes out on DVD, since the episode they screened was not bad at all. The creator Carol Barbee was interesting and actress Ashley Scott was very enthusiastic and engaging. Actor Skeet Ulrich, who kept his baseball cap on during the entire panel, was somewhat less so.

As the Jericho panel wound down the room began to fill up for the event everyone had been waiting for, the Drive panel. This upcoming series is written by Firefly scribe Tim Minear, has effects by Zoic, and stars Nathan Fillion, so anticipation is very high. As in Firefly panels in years past the room was full of Browncoats and Fillion pretty much got a standing ovation just by walking into the room. Part of his appeal is that he is a very charming speaker, engaging with his fellow panelists and the audience and generally horsing around. Also on the panel were co-star Kristin Lehman, writer Ben Queen and director Greg Yaitanes, all of whom gracefully weathered a Q&A session mainly composed of a series of questions for Fillion.

And aside from a trip to Chevy’s, that was the end of that for me, but I had an excellent time and can assert with confidence that this year’s WonderCon exceeded my expectations—and I look forward to attending all three days next year as well.

~España Sheriff

SF/SF Issue #41, March 27, 2007