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WonderCon 2010 winds up being unexpectedly fun

WonderCon 2010 winds up being unexpectedly fun

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Here’s the rub: I don’t know anything about this stuff. I have never gone to “fan” type conventions, and I don’t really read a lot of comic books. At least, not since I was 15. I don’t even really watch TV anymore, and rarely go to the movies. When I’m not working, I spend most of my time these days taking care of my son and working on personal projects.

That being said, I attended WonderCon 2010, at the Moscone Center. I was asked to go by Jim after I had dragged him all over San Francisco for an endless tour of every neighborhood and street in the eastern part of the city. So, heck, why not?I checked out the convention on the web, and found a bunch of information on it, including an iPhone app that lists all the exhibitors, sessions, and every other thing involving not just WonderCon, but Comic Con and APE, the Alternative Press Expo.

WonderCon 2010 was in San Francisco
Photo by Jon Nadelberg

Armed with all this information, and an intense desire to not be cynical about the show and my being there in the first place, I headed into Moscone to see what was there to see. My initial trepidation and cynicism were tossed aside as I arrived just in time to see a session with Stan Freberg.

Mr. Freberg is a comedian and voice over artist who also created some very famous television commercials. At 83 years old, he’s as sharp as he ever was, and told some great stories about old time show business people I remember, but who have been dead more years than most people reading this have been alive. It was great. The audience definitely skewed older than me by a little bit, and it put me at ease in thinking that I wasn’t walking into some goofy thing filled with people in cardboard Buzz Lightyear outfits. He also announced at that time that he was working on a third volume of his United States Of America albums (or CDs, or MP3s, or whatever they’ll sell things as when it comes out) which got a solid round of applause. If you’ve never heard the first two albums in the series, you ought to take a listen, it’s pretty funny stuff. But there was a slight delay of 30 years between Volume I and Volume II, so they were not keen on announcing a specific release date just yet.

WonderCon 2010 was in San Francisco
Photo by Jon Nadelberg

Venturing out onto the main exhibition floor was pretty amazing. There were tons of booths selling all sorts of things I had never heard of, and tons more people buying it all up. Recession? Eh. How can there be a recession when folks are spending their money in frenzied purchases of Naruto (whatever that is) action figures? There were all sorts of neat looking things to get. Figures, games, toys, cards, you name it. I had little idea what was going on. I didn’t buy anything, but people seemed awfully happy to get stuff that I had no idea what they will do with.

It kind of made no sense. What exactly does a 40 year old man do with an $89 Ghostbusters action figure? But after reflecting on it, a more important question is: What does it matter? The buyer seemed happy, the seller seemed happy, and I got entertainment out of it vicariously. Everyone was smiling. Life is short. Good for us.

Wondercon
Photo by Jon Nadelberg

Lots of people were walking around in costume. I kind of expected that, but the quality of the costumes was surprisingly good. The Star Wars costumes were the best, and looked like they came off the movie set. There were also Harry Potter, Dr. Who, a hottie in a Supergirl outfit, and many others. The only problem was, this being San Francisco, I sometimes could not tell if someone was in costume, or that was just the way they normally dressed. It strikes me a bit rude to ask someone who looks like they are in a costume if they are truly in one or not. No matter what they are wearing, if you have to ask, you are either saying they look ridiculous, or don’t look ridiculous enough.

Another thing I was rather surprised by was the large number of celebrities on hand for this show. I didn’t see all of them, but in just walking on the floor show, at various times I saw John DeLancie, Brent Spiner, Lindsay Wagner (hey, she smiled at me!), Erin Grey, Richard Hatch, Lou Ferrigno, Lee Meriwether (who looks great), and many others. All from various science fiction and fantasy shows. Aside from that, in other events, Kevin Smith, Milla Jovovich, Jerry Bruckheimer, and bunches of others also were on hand for various activities. There was just a lot of people and things to see, and stuff to do. In fact, there was so much stuff, it was overwhelming. I kind of just buzzed around and looked at what I could.


Photo by Jon Nadelberg

I tried going into a couple of the sessions involving Disney, but they were jammed. I had no idea there would be so many people going into these things. Who knew there’d be so much interest in The Princess and The Frog? The Freberg session I attended had plenty of seats left in it, but not the Frog one. In the end, there just wasn’t time to see hardly any of what was available to see.

There were also a great number of cartoonists and artists there, some quite famous, I assume, for although I had not heard of practically a single one of them, they had the fans lined up. I did know one, Sergio Aragones. He is the artist who draws the “marginal” cartoons for Mad Magazine. It was great to see him sit and draw, so I have an idea of what other folks were enjoying in meeting these other artists. Many artists were sketching as they sat in their booth, and I marveled at how they could move a pen over a blank piece of paper to create an image. I can’t even begin to do that.

WonderCon 2010 was in San Francisco
Photo by Jon Nadelberg

There was also a lot of silly stuff. There was some noise going on about TRON with people carrying signs that said “Flynn Lives” on it. OK, I guess some people like that movie, but I recall when it first came out, and it was not my favorite. I just can’t get up a lot of excitement about Tron. Maybe it’s all those years of being annoyed by Disneyland’s SuperSpeed Tunnel that has put me off. I will go to my grave hearing “You have survived the game grid for now, users” echoing endlessly in my head. But, really, for most of this stuff I just can’t get up the excitement. It’s fun on a certain level, but the devotion of the fans is kind of mysterious to me.

At least it was until the last day, when I took my 7 year old son with me. We walked in, and his eyes lit up. For him, the exhibitors weren’t selling just a bunch of silly things that people were incomprehensibly buying; it was a gigantic collection of every treasure he could have ever dreamed of. He wanted to look at everything, touch everything, and buy everything. I had to be a parent: “NO, you cannot have a copy of ‘Girls And Corpses’.” “NO, I am not buying you a $150 comic book.” “NO! Put down that sword!”


Photo by Jon Nadelberg

He loved every bit of it. Every last bit. I finally made him a deal. He could get whatever I said was ok for him to have (no zombie sex), provided he carried it all himself. It’s a form of budgeting. He had to weigh whether or not he wanted something so badly that he was willing to walk around with it the rest of the day. While he still ended up with a few bags of things, he can only carry so much. It really kept the amount he wanted down as he had to think about everything he bought. It worked out well this time, but this is not going to work when he is a teenager.

He didn’t care too much about the stuff I liked, though. He didn’t care about Lindsay Wagner, or other things that I enjoyed when I was his age. He cares about Pokemon and Bakugan that make my teeth hurt just to look at. When I pointed out items I thought he would like because I liked them, he couldn’t be bothered. That’s how it goes, you know, and I guess that’s what this show is about, and it is why people of all ages go to them and enjoy them so much. It’s either new and exciting when you are 7, or old and nostalgic when you are 50. I’m glad I got to see Stan Freberg. My son is glad he got to get a stuffed Arceus Pokemon.


Photo by Jon Nadelberg

We had a great time. He wants to go back again next year, and we will.

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