Two years ago, around February, I was getting more and more hyped for WonderCon 2020. I had a great time with my buddy the year before, and it harkened the start of Convention Season for me: 6-7 months of traveling and fun.
As COVID began to grow, my wife was the first person to mention that Wondercon might get canceled. At the time, I thought it was a ludicrous thought. The size of the show, the investment…there’s no way they’d cancel.
Of course, as we know all too well now, that’s exactly what happened. For nearly two full years, every single convention was cancelled. After all, there’s nothing a highly contagious respiratory disease loves more than a packed hall of thousands of geeks, a large percentage of which may have questionable hygiene to begin with.
With the shadow of Wondercon 2020 still lingering, it made the lead-up to this years show even more exciting. While I attended Comic-Con Special Edition and PAX West last year, this was the first show that felt “proper”. Attendance on Saturday seemed more in line with the conventions of old, even if there were certain indicators of the times present (such as mask wearing throughout the halls, and vaccination/negative test verification).
And yet, there was an air of excitement and enthusiasm as I wandered the exhibit hall. Attendees were thrilled to be back, and it showed.
While WonderCon was definitely sporting strong attendance, COVID is still a very real concern for organizers and con-goers alike! WonderCon observed a few key protocols to help keep everyone safe:
- Proof of Vaccination or daily negative test to receive a wristband. Wristbands were required for entry into any of the WonderCon events.
- Full-masking indoors, except when eating or drinking in designated areas
- More room in the aisles to allow for a bit more spacing while navigating the hall
I will say that the policing on masking was fairly light outside of a handful of reminders over the intercom. Compared to my experiences at PAX West and even SDCC Special Edition, it definitely seemed more lax. Still, generally speaking many attendees seemed to respect the rules, and as a result the broader show felt safe.
Adventures in Small Press
My trip was a bit shorter than usual this year due to some personal obligations, but I made sure to make a trip through the Small Press area and connect with some interesting creators on their projects. Of course, I wish there was enough time to spotlight all of them, but there were a handful that stood out.
Kodoja – Keith Foster
I’m a sucker for Kaiju stories, as my love for Ultramega can attest, so when I spotted a Kaiju-themed indie comic, I had to take a moment to connect with the creator. Keith Foster (writer), shared that when he first thought up Kodoja, there wasn’t a lot happening in the Kaiju space in the comics-world. So in creating his narrative, which centers on a massive bio-weapon that goes rogue – just as an actual giant monster awakens to clash with it, there was room on the field to play a bit. As luck would have it, Pacific Rim would land in theaters shortly after his initial volume was done, putting more eyes on that genre and helping to pull in some extra readers. Keith hopes that readers interested in kaiju stories gives his book a chance! You can find his products here.
Project Magus – Nicholas Garcia
My eye caught some striking character art as I wandered up and down the small press aisles, leading me to the Summoner Studios booth to chat with Nicholas Garcia – writer of Project Magus.
Seeking to take elements of magic from the comic book world and ground it with modern combat, Nicholas shared the various ways soldiers call upon arcane arts in his world – namely via a high caloric intake! Of course, talk of magic use and comics led to one of my personal favorites: Dr. Strange. We discussed the importance of each spell having its own “weight”, or cost…and Nicholas assured me there would be plenty of nuance to enjoy as I read through the opening issue.
If you get a chance, check out his work here.
Stud and the Bloodblade – Perry Crowe
Perry’s booth was positioned in such a way that the attention-grabbing title of his series, Stud and the Bloodblade, was on perfect display. Hardly willing to walk by without getting some more information, I said hello to Perry and asked for more information on this “Stud”.
Perry shared his inspirations, largely borrowed from the period of He-Man: Masters of the Universe and other 80s cartoons that made up a big part of his childhood. In Stud and the Bloodblade, he works to unpack some elements of toxic masculinity, and in the meantime, come up with some really interesting character names – like a voluptuous magma woman named La-va-Voom.
You can find more Stud and the Bloodblade here – I definitely recommend giving it a read!
FairSquare Press – Fabrice Sapolsky & Kristal Adams Sapolsky
If there’s one thing that is growing more and more important with each passing year when it comes to comics, it’s representation. FairSquare Comics, headed up by Fabrice and Kristal Adams Sapolsky, strives to promote and give more exposure to immigrants, minorities and under-represented creators of the world. This mission gave birth to their tagline: “Comics from the rest of us.”
As I took a few minutes to connect with Fabrice and Kristal, I was introduced to a handful of intriguing titles, each influenced by its creator in a unique way.
What stood out the most, however, was a display of magazines titled “Mutiny”. This is FairSquare comics’ biggest publication: a quarterly magazine that features articles on some of the biggest creators out there, while also shining a spotlight on up & coming minority creators by previewing their comics.
Featuring cover art by some of the most recognizable names in the business, Mutiny is a fantastic quarterly subscription that’s sure to open your eyes to unique stories and creators.
You can browse FairSquare’s catalog of comics, learn more about their mission, and sign up for a Mutiny subscription here.
While wandering the hall, I was once again reminded of just how dang talented people are – especially when it comes to cosplay!
Seeing all the great cosplay really got me excited to try it myself! Here’s hoping for a solid Dr. Strange cosplay in the not-too-distant future! (Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to share!)
A Welcome Return
In short, my day and a half at WonderCon really put some pep in my step when it comes to convention season. Being able to see so many excited geeks poring over comic books, squealing with delight upon recognizing their favorite costumed hero and snapping a picture, and more than a handful of genuine connections after nearly 3 years of being offline.
I’m excited to get yet another taste of this energy in Boston in just two short weeks as I head to PAX East – but in the meantime, I’ll gladly savor the experience that WonderCon provided.
Happy convention-going, geeks!