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WonderCon caters to the crowd that knows about cool things long before everybody else

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WonderCon caters to the crowd that knows about cool things long before everybody else

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WonderCon has wandered around quite a bit over the past few years.

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.

Disneyland 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 concluded.

Which makes one wonder, don’t you think?

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Saturday, April 1, 2017

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