Wondercon

WonderCon seems to get better for me each year, not so much because of changes to the event itself, but because I learn more about what is going on and have a fuller experience because of it.

This year I got my badge on Friday after work to avoid the mad Saturday crush, and wandered the exhibition hall for the last hour or so before closing, taking note of things I wanted to buy and crowd-watching. I had texted Chris and Jean as I headed down the hill to Moscone. Jean was apparently over in Chinatown to see the Miss Chinatown pageant, but on my way to Hall A, I ran into Chris hunched over his laptop, shamelessly fanzining in public. After chatting with him for a few minutes I went to the panel for the new 3D live action Journey to the Center of the Earth.

There was a panel just wrapping up for the movie adaptation of Mark Millar’s Wanted, which stars James McAvoy. Although the director is Timur Bekmambetov, whose work on Night Watch seems like a good match for the material, what I saw seemed to indicate that the story has been changed considerably, possibly toned down and mainstreamed beyond recognition. On the other hand I was utterly charmed by McAvoy himself, whose career I was only dimly aware of before entering the room.

The Journey panel started a little late with two of the technical crew and Brendan Fraser on the panel. The movie itself seems to be a kid-friendly action adventure without terribly complex ambitions, but although the preview we saw was not in 3D (Jean got to see that one I think) the explanation of the technology was very interesting; it seemed to be a real leap ahead from what we have seen so far. Brendan Fraser was interesting to listen to; someplace between thoughtful and/or possibly baked out of his mind but clearly having a good deal of enthusiasm for the process.

He was quite enter-taining during the Q&A process, obviously an old pro at it – although I own a copy of Monkeybone, so I didn’t personally require an apology for that one.

After the panel let out, I ran into Garcia again, this time with the lovely and talented Linda, chatting with local costumers extraordinaire Mette Hedin and Bryan Little as well as some other folks who had just attended Gallifrey. After some dallying we all trundled over to Mel’s for some much needed nourishment.

I always enjoy watching the crowd at Mel’s during these kind of events or after certain shows or clubs let out, spotting my fellow travelers, and naturally this was no exception: Halfway through the meal Derek McCaw from Fanboy Planet stopped by to say howdy and mentioned that there was some sort of Justice League panel the next day. I had skimmed my program book but somehow missed that the gorgeous Bruce Timm New Frontiers cover art was for a DVD adaptation of the recent graphic novel of the same name. I wrote that one down on my list as a must-see.

On Saturday I found myself at Mel’s again before hitting Moscone South for a day of glorious consumerism. There were several t-shirt designs I was interested in but they were either in the giant madhouse t-shirt vendor that was far too claustrophobic for my tastes, or in the case of my absolute favorite they were out of my size.

I consoled myself by getting a set of Brian Ewing art cards and a bunch of books including Capote in Kansas, which I sat and read cover to cover a few minutes later while waiting for my phone to charge.

My first panel for the day was a coloring in comics talk by Steven Oliff of OlyOptics. I missed the start of it, but the second half at least was very informative, even for non-comics coloring. I took the opportunity while waiting for the 4 p.m. J. Michael Straczynski talk to wander around people-watching.

WonderCon is always good for costumes if you don’t mind the frequent holdups when photographers converge on a target. There were some I recognized from previous years, like Loki and two variations on the Green Hornet, or from other conventions like the Tenth Doctor with his companion Dalek, but there were a bunch of others I had not personally seen before including an Indiana Jones and DS couple, a Batman and Batwoman team, and a Bob’s Big Boy. My favorite group costumes were a team of Cobra minions and a troupe of Victorian explorers complete with pith helmets and parasols. In the not-quite-a-costume-but-still-awesome category were two remote- controled R2 units that were programmed with all sorts of appropriate sound effects and tunes.

Preceding the J. Michael Straczynski talk was a presentation for a new animated Spiderman show for Kids’ WB that sounded promising, although I’m not really the biggest Spidey fan. I don’t think I’ve seen JMS talk in years and although he’s always a good speaker he seemed in an especially good mood. And no wonder, he currently has several movie projects in various degrees of completion for the likes of Ron Howard, Clint Eastwood and Brad Pitt. The most exciting of these from my perspective is that he penned the script for the upcoming adaptation of World War Z by Max Brooks, who is apparently an old time Babylon 5 fan, bless his heart.

Aside from working for others Straczynski has started his own production company, the aptly named And The Horse You Rode in On Productions, through which he hopes to adapt his Midnight Nation and Rising Stars series. He also announced he was no longer exclusive to Marvel Comics, which means that he will be working on some DC series, as well as getting two creator-owned titles over at Image. As if all that was not enough, he gave us old-time Babylon 5 fans a thrill by announcing that there will be a new comics series for sure, and that Paramount was apparently pleased with sales for the recent Lost Tales DVD and is considering doing further stories with a more robust budget in the future. Aside from that, he took questions and told stories and was all around one of my favorite speakers.

After that I again ran into Chris Garcia, who was not even supposed to be there, much less wandering the hall lusting over a 1950s Worldcon program book. We wandered around while I waited for my next big event, the New Frontiers sneak preview.

The room was pretty full and we were treated to a trailer for another exciting DVD release, an Animatrix-style six-story anthology of After that I again ran into Chris Garcia, who was not even supposed to be there, much less wandering the hall lusting over a 1950s Worldcon program book. We wandered around while I waited for my next big event, the New Frontiers sneak preview.

The room was pretty full and we were treated to a trailer for another exciting DVD release, an Animatrix-style six-story anthology of B. came in dressed as Doctor Evil, followed almost immediately by Mette and Bryan in their Midna and Wolf Link costumes from Legend of Zelda.

The Masquerade was tempting, as was the annual Isotope party which I really meant to get to this year, but the flesh was weak and I decided to call it a night and save my strength for the last day of the con.

Sunday I bought a bunch more comics, natch, and got to see the complete New Frontiers which was excellent and I am very glad I got to see it on the big screen even though it’s a direct-to-DVD release. The adaptation is faithful to the source material and the title sequence is lovely. Angel fans will be amused to know that Hal Jordan is voiced by David Boreanaz.

After the movie, the exhibitors hall was just a few minutes from closing and dazed comic book fans both costumed and in civvies were being shunted blinking into the sunlight.

WonderCon doesn’t quite produce the post-convention blues that something like Baycon or Loscon does for me, but it does seem sad to go directly home afterwards, even if you do have a big bag of comics to read. So instead, we finished off the day at the San Francisco Brewing Company in North Beach, where a plate of meat and the Albatross and the Emperor Norton Lagers and the Alcatraz Stout did a great deal to round off a successful weekend

~España Sheriff

SF/SF Issue #61, 2008