WonderCon has wandered around quite a bit over the past few
For nearly a quarter-of-a-century (1987 – 2011, to be
exact), this annual event – which was originally called the Wonderful World of
Comics Convention – was presented in and around the Bay Area. But as WonderCon
grew in popularity, it also eventually outgrew its original home at the Oakland
Convention Center. Which is why – in 2003 – it moved across the Bay to the
Moscone Center in San Francisco.
Come 2012 (due to a construction project that was going on
at the Moscone Center at that time), WonderCon moved yet again and wound up
just a block or so away from the Disneyland Resort. Then in 2016, because the
Anaheim Convention Center was undergoing its own Moscone-like expansion, this
pop culture celebration temporarily decamped to the LA Convention Center.
WonderCon during its 2016 stint at the Los Angeles Convention Center
“Los Angeles was a great deal of fun and the city really
turned out for the show,” said David Glanzer, the Chief Communications and
Strategy Officer for Comic-Con International (i.e., WonderCon’s parent
company). “But for 2017, we’re really looking forward to returning to the
Anaheim Convention Center. We’ve staged several WonderCons there over the past few
years. It’s a great location with plenty of space for exhibitors as well as all
the panels & programs that we present.”
Which kind of makes it sound as though WonderCon bouncing
from Anaheim to LA & then back again over the past two years was a
relatively easy thing to manage. But that’s where you’d be wrong.
“It takes a while to stage a show of this size. Some things
may take a few months, others years,” Glanzer explained. “We have to secure
hotels, the facility, advertising and promotion, guest invites and the like. There
are a million moving parts. But to be honest, I think our fans and attendees
are aware of this. And I have to say the fans of WonderCon really are amazing.
If there were a real secret to our success, I would have to say it was them.”
Of course, out of the 60,000 people who are expected to head
down to Anaheim over the next three days to experience WonderCon, for a few of
these folks, this will be their very first convention. So what sort of advice
does Glanzer want to pass along to those people?
Photo by C. Gawlik. Copyright SDCC
“Plan, plan, plan. There is a ton of stuff to do and we
always say ‘Take advantage of our schedule,’ which is provided both online and
at the show,” David stated. “Try to plan out what you may want to see, and then
have a couple of back-ups just in case a room is full.”
Given the gigantic size of this venue (just the show floor
portion of the Anaheim Convention Center is over 810,000 square feet) and the
amount of time that WonderCon attendees will be spending on their feet, Glanzer
also stressed the importance of wearing comfortable shoes.
“And stay hydrated,” David insisted. “It’s easy to forget
about as the day goes by. But we want everyone attending WonderCon to be happy &
healthy and staying hydrated is a very important part of that.”
So once you’re properly shod & hydrated, what can one
expect to find at WonderCon 2017? Everything from the 18th Annual
Animation Show of Shows (which features award-winning shorts that Ron Diamond
has carefully culled from film festivals around the world) to the U.S. premiere
of “Class,” that highly-anticipated “Doctor Who” spin-off.
Copyright BBC America. All rights reserved
For Marvel Television fans, Jeph Loeb will be on hand to
talk about what’s coming next for Season Four of “Marvel’s Agents of
S.H.I.E.L.D” (not to mention sharing a never-before-seen episode of this ABC
series). Whereas if you’re a Star Wars fans, Hal Hickel (who’s an animation
supervisor at Industrial Light & Magic) will be on hand to discuss his role
in creating the Academy Award-nominated visual effects for “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”
Which is all well & good. But if you really want to take
advantage of all the wonders that WonderCon 2017 has to offer, Glanzer suggests
moving outside of your comfort zone. By that I mean: try wandering afield of
your usual fandom.
“While you’re at the Anaheim Convention Center, you should
try & take in a panel or program that sounds interesting but is something
you might not have originally thought to attend,” David enthused. “There is a
reason so many of our panels are so popular. This is a great way to be
introduced to something that may end up being your new favorite.”
Speaking of attending panels, does Glanzer and his team at
Comic-Con International ever take advantage of their insider status and then
sit in on a highly anticipated presentation that then hypes their own favorite
motion picture & TV show? Surprisingly enough, no.
David Glanzer, Chief
Communications and Strategy Officer for Comic-Con International
“We’re all fans here. So we would love to attend every panel
if given the chance. But that just isn’t possible,” David stated. “Mind you, we
get a great deal of satisfaction in watching others have a good time and getting
to meet their favorite creators.”
“To be honest, that’s one of the best parts of this job. When
– after you’ve spent months planning out a particular program or panel and then
hoping that the fans will turn out – you turn up at the venue and then see this
long line of people waiting in line outside of that hall,” Glanzer enthused.
“Given that the people who go to WonderCon & San Diego Comic-Con are some
of the most tuned-in people on the planet – I know that a lot of pundits call
them Early Adopters. But I prefer to think of them as Early Implementers.
They’re the people who start the trend that the Early Adopters then adopt …
Well, it’s gratifying to see those folks – the people who know about a cool
thing before almost everybody else -- lining up to attend a panel or
presentation that you helped put together.”
Mind you, WonderCon 2017 is only at the Anaheim Convention
Center through 5 p.m. on Sunday night. So what’s it like to be in this
cavernous space as this super-popular pop culture celebration comes to a close?
“It’s a little sad,” David admitted. “Everyone has spent so
much time and effort to produce a great show, we welcome fans from all over the
country, people have a great time and then -- in a matter of a few hours --
it’s all gone. And a few hours later, there is no sign at all of the excitement
& fun that previously filled this space. But that said, there’s always next
year to look forward to. So there’s a happiness tinged with the sad.”
Photo by A. Ortega. Copyright SDCC
And speaking of next year, one has to ask: Will WonderCon
continue to wander in the future? Because Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti seems
determined to bring this pop culture celebration back to the City of Angels, telling
the Los Angeles Times in March of 2016 that “ … we’re going to be very
competitive for 2019.”
So what did Glanzer have to say about WonderCon’s future
plans? Ever the diplomat, David only talked about all the amenities that could
be found around the Anaheim Convention Center.
is just so close. Add to that the different eateries within walking distance
and the always fun Medieval Times and … Well, how can you not love it?, ” David
Which makes one wonder, don’t you think?
This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Saturday, April 1, 2017