Entertainment :: Books

WonderCon 2014 :: Comic-Con’s Little Sister Grows Up

by Kevin Taft
Contributor
Thursday Apr 17, 2014
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What used to be the smaller and easier-to-navigate version of Comic-Con has now blossomed into a beautiful young lady; a lady with super-hero gadgets, steam-punk trappings, or anime eyes, that is.

WonderCon, essentially a mini "Comic-Con," could very well be just as big in a few years. The three day event that takes place this weekend (April 18 - April 20, 2014) in Anaheim is full of celebrity-ridden panels, movie studio preview presentations, and hundreds of sellers packed onto the main floor with geeked out merchandise and collectibles for the nerd at heart. With over 50,000 attendees it can get pretty packed, but this can be expected for an event that has been around for 28 years -only its second year in Anaheim, CA. (And there’s a good chance with the Star Wars Celebration happening around the same time next year, that WonderCon might move venues.)

(Follow this link for more details about WonderCon.)


A promotional tshirt for WonderCon  

Holy Grail of merchandise

As usual, the event features the Holy Grail of merchandise - the Exhibit Hall that includes well over 700 exhibitors and artists. In and above the hall are the conference rooms that include over 240 hours of exciting and informative programming. Truth be told, it’s an overwhelming event. With pop and geek culture becoming mainstream in the past ten years, these Cons have become actual cultural events and a great way for movie studios to get people excited about what they have coming up. Warner Bros. and Twentieth Century Fox both have extended panels that are sure to be packed with movie stars and exclusive footage of their upcoming slate of films.

You can thank the deluge of Superhero movies that have pretty much become the main tentpole films for every major studio. And with Science Fiction and Dystopian films consistently making big bucks at the box office, you have even the most passive nerd diving into all that is geeky. In fact, isn’t even geek culture anymore when it’s really just (as WonderCon states) a celebration of the "popular arts."

It’s also a great place for burgeoning filmmakers, writers, comic book artists, and more to learn about their craft. With panels of professionals from all walks of entertainment, there is a plethora of knowledge and advice to be obtained here.


The crowd at last year’s WonderCon  

LGBT issues

So if you are a first time attendee or aren’t one to have your entire three days already mapped out, I’ve taken the liberty of selecting a handful of panels that might be of interest to our readers. These also include the various panels that discuss LGBT issues, something previously unheard of in years past. Now, LGBT characters, stories, and voices have become part of the mainstream and widely accepted even by a group that once used to shun them.

It’s a changing world. And this is hugely evident when wandering the Exhibit Hall and the conference rooms of WonderCon. People are friendly and welcoming. There’s no attitude or competition. The only ruckus to be had is the crowd trying to get into the most popular events, which admittedly, can be a huge pain in the ass. But everyone is there for the same reason. Whether they are into "Star Wars" or "Star Trek," Superheroes or "Archie" comics, anime or Frank Miller, everyone has his pop culture fetish and everyone accepts each other for it. There’s a camaraderie here that is refreshing which makes the Con one of the happiest places to be.


The theatrical release poster for "Night of the Comet"  

Friday (April 18, 2014) Highlights

Disney/ABC The Art Of The Pitch: The Writer. The Director, The Story

Disney’s creative talent development team and current program participants in the program discuss how to stand out, fit in, and pitch like your life depended on it. 1 p.m.

The Writer’s Journey: Breaking Into Graphic Novel And Hollywood Script Writing

Brandon M. Easton ("Thundercats"), Geoffrey Thorne (TNT’s "Leverage"), Tony Puryear ("Eraser") are among the panelist discussing how to make it in the graphic novel and screenwriting biz in Hollywood. 5:30 p.m.

Greatest Geek Movies Of 1984: Big Brother Wasn’t The Only One Watching ’While Doves Cried’

An expert panel discuss the great geek year of films including, "Gremlins," "Ghostbusters," "Dune," "Splash," "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," "Night of the Comet" and more. 6 p.m.

The Art, Craft, And Business Of Acting In Today’s Entertainment Industry

Golden Globe nominated actor, teacher, and director Richard Hatch ("Battlestar Galactica") discusses the ins and outs of the industry. 6 p.m.

Queer Horror
A panel of experts that include Jeffrey Reddick ("Final Destination") look at the LGBT subtext, plot elements, and characters of the horror genre in film, TV, and comics. Does a gay horror genre exist? Do queer horror creators bring a different sensibility to the medium? 7:30 p.m.

Husbands: Breaking Through

Jane Espensen ("Buffy," "Battlestar Galactica") is among the panelists that discuss their breakthrough year with the popular web series "Husbands." 8 p.m.


a publicity shot from the series "Arrow"  

Saturday (April 19, 2014) Highlights

Warner Bros. / 20th Century Fox Presentations

Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox present footage of new films and TV shows coming in 2014 with special surprises and guests. 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. / 12:45-2:45 p.m.

Psychology Of Cult TV Shows 1pm

A panel of therapists and scientist discuss the psychology behind TV shows such as "Doctor Who," "Sherlock," "Firefly," "Arrow,"" Buffy" and others.


Inside The Writer’s Room: Earth’s Mightiest Writers Re-Assemble

A panel of writers from popular shows discusses how they write the shows in the writer’s room and what they think about what they read on the message boards. Including Michael Narducci ("The Vampire Diaries"), Steve Holland ("Big Bang Theory") Ashley E. Miller ("Fringe," "Thor") and more. 6:30 p.m.

Your Opinion Sucks: Rotten Tomatoes Critics vs Fans

Face off with your favorite Rotten Tomatoes critics - Alonso Duralde ("The Wrap"), Christy Lemire (ChristyLemire.com), Scott Mantz (Access Hollywood), and Alynda Wheat (People) who join Rotten Tomatoes editors (Matt Atchity, Grae Drake, and Tim Ryahn) for a "Personal Tomatometer Paddle" game where you can battle with your favorite critics. 6:30 p.m.

Wild Queer Women Of The Web
Lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women comic’s creators have found a place in web comics. Join Prism Comics and moderator Tara Madison Avery along with a variety of panelists to discuss this topical issue. 7 p.m.


A promotional photo from "Maleficent"  

Sunday (April 20, 2014) Highlights

We’re Here, We’re Queer, Now What? New Direction In LGBTQ Comics
Panelists discuss the visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered characters in comics. 11:30 a.m.

Geek Guide To Summer Movies

A panel of geeksperts talk about the upcoming summer movie season and their hopes, dreams, and fears, along with clips from the most eagerly anticipated cinema of the season. The panel includes Access Hollywood’s Scott Mantz and GEEK magazine editor David E. Williams, and more.
1 p.m.

The Future Of "Battlestar Galactica"

Golden Globe nominated actor, teacher, author, and director Richard Hatch (Tom Zarek, Capt. Apollo) hosts a discussion and Q&A about the future of "Battlestar Galactica" that includes surprise guests, and the premiere of the new "Battlestar Galactica" documentary sizzle reel. 2:30 p.m.

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog!
FandomCharities.org and Whedonopolis.com present a screening of " Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog!" Comerevel in the musical genius of the Whedon Bros! Audience participation is required! 3 p.m.


WonderCon takes place from April 18 to April 20, 2014 at the Anaheim Convention Center, 800 W. Katella Ave., Anaheim, CA 92802. For more information and to purchase badges, visit the WonderCon website.


Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to ’Star Wars’ and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg. He can be seen in the flesh on the weekly PBS movie review series "Just Seen It."

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