Let’s make one thing very clear: I love Wonder Con. I really do! It is probably one of my favorite conventions and looking backing on my convention history, Im kicking myself for not going sooner. Wonder Con 2016 was no exception to my love for the convention, it was an AMAZING year! Honestly, I was very hesitant about attending Wonder Con this year when I heard they would be moving to the LA Convention Center because Anaheim is currently under construction but Im so glad that I did!
First let’s list off the wonderful things about this year’s Wonder Con:
The convention didnt feel like a can of sardines. But that being said, Anaheim doesn’t feel very crowded to me either, and that’s because my original convention grounds is San Diego….Going to any other convention, compared to San Diego, is a breeze with lots of room! However, the LA convention center felt much larger than Anaheim; and that may partly be because it kind of is, but I think its because the LA convention center allows for better over flow of guests on the outside. There are alot of side streets and branches that convention goers are dissipate to when looking for a place to rest, eat, or line up. The convention center also allowed for a very conviencent, central “hub.” The hub is a place during the convention that I like to nickname as the the cenrtal point of traffic, where lots of people are coming and going, meeting up, breaking into groups, or some place where cosplayers love to stop and allow others to take photos. The LA convention center’s hub was dead center of the it all and it was wide, open, able to accommodate the crowds without feeling packed. It also allowed a ton of opportunities for cosplayer to stop and let others take photos- and that’s another reason why I love Wonder Con, because it isnt as packed, we dont have security breathing down our necks to “move along,” or “keep traffic moving,” every couple of seconds. Convention goers are able to slow down and appreciate their surrounding, and cosplayers, without feeling the need to hurry the hell up.
That being said, I firmly stand behind my opinion that the LA convention center is NOT a replacement contender for San Diego Comic Con, but if Wonder Con decided to move to LA I wouldnt complain. My only grip about the LA convention center is, literally, right next door to the Staples Center and Microsoft Theater. Two out of the three nights, the Lakers or Kings were playing and it was mess to leave the convention because all the geeks were leaving in droves and colliding with the sports fans as they were in line to enter their stadium. The fact that three major venues are a stone throws distance from each other makes a very crowded and confusing street map.
Another thing that really stands out about Wonder Con is that this convention is mainly creator driven. The artist alley and small press areas in Wonder Con- both in Anaheim and LA- certainly make San Diego Comic Con’s said sections TINY in comparison. And that’s okay with me because I believe the indie writers and artists are the life blood of the popular arts industry. Yeah, it be great to work for Marvel or DC–but its even better to work on your own craft without any limitations, telling the stories you want to be told. And that’s why I love Wonder Con, the convention is just the right size to attract geek related industry giants to add a bit of excitement to the convention on the exhibit floor, and in panels, but not enough mega industry giants to dominate the entire convention. I love wandering so many aisle of artists telling me their stories, showing me their art, and being able to connect with them and their craft. Having Wonder Con in LA was a good refresh to the small press and artist alley section, allowing local artist who just cant make it down to San Diego or Anaheim, a chance to showcase their talents. It was amazing to see so much more new talent, art, and stories. Having a creator driven convention, in personal opinion, is always the best. Also, smaller mom and pop stores/vendors are able to make a living when they arent being over shadowed by the huge manufacturer to consumer giants. Always nice to support local businesses that provide geeks with their next collectible item.
Additionally, because Wonder Con is a creator driven convention that lacks a majority of the industry razzle dazzle…that means the convention is all around quieter and sane. Because Wonder Con isnt known, like it’s big sister convention, to drop exploding geek news or exclusive items, attendees dont feel the “hyper rush” to see things or to get things. People are just all around nicer during Wonder Con because they know they arent battling other attendees for the last spot in line for a block buster panel. Its always nice when attendees dont look at each other as competition, but as fellow geeks, at the same venue to celebrate and discuss their passions. Its great to be able to sit down for a break, notice that someone youre sharing the table with is also sporting a Captian American shirt and youre able to gab in excitement about Civil War. I have had more entertaining conversations with fellow geeks at Wonder Con compared to any other convention I had attended. During San Diego Comic Con, Im too busy running around to get in line somewhere opposed to stopping to appreciate the geek cultured that has converged together for 72 hours. Lastly, with the lack of Hollywood influence, the panels at Wonder Con are more personable to audience members. These are panels hosted by fans for fans. There are no timers on questions or discussions, nobody is screening what is being asked of the panel, and people are able to learn more about the industry that they love so they can get their foot in the door and practice their craft. Panels at Wonder Con are not about, “who has the biggest news,” but more geared towards “let’s discuss what we love.” Smaller panels and conventions also allow for a deeper connection, what conventions and meets and greets are truly meant for, between the creators and their audience. Instead of worrying about ticketd signings, or long lines, lovers of the industry are able to focus on what authors and artists have to say about their work and their message.
That isnt to say Wonder Con has its sprinkles of Hollywood and major industry players. The convention does attract some heavy hitters to the events, but just enough to bring in a good size crowd but not over shadow all the smaller parties. Its always fun to have game demos from Nintendo and Capcom, or see great panels on some of the latest TV shows. Not going to lie, I totally enjoyed Pokemon Tournament and the new StarFox demo.
Finally, what I love the most about Wonder Con is: COSPLAYERS!
Wonder Con always has some of the greatest cosplayers and because the convention isn’t super packed, you’re able to see so many cosplayers in a single glance. The crowd isn’t saturated so you can scope out that awesome Deadpool, or Spider Gwen, and they’re all so friendly to stop for photos because they don’t have security constantly telling them to not block traffic. The LA cosplay scene has some serious talent, there was a lot of wonderfully done cosplay that I felt I could have spent my whole convention snapping photos instead of being on the exhibit floor. Photos down below! But before you enjoy my small cosplay gallery, I will end this piece with: Wonder Con 2016 was an amazing convention and year. The LA talent was refreshing to see, the convention center was large and spacious, the crowd was not over whelming, panels and programming were personable, and the convention was definitely driven by the feeling of “by fans for fans,” coming together to celebrate the popular arts.