Sunday, February 20, 2005

WonderCon 2005 SF

In case you don't know... WonderCon is the big Comic Book, Toy, Anime, SciFi, Costuming Geek Event of Northern California. I know, I've been going for years. My friends invited me this year and last. I've been off and on with mainstream comics since the mid 90's but have always tried to keep up with what's new, at least in the indie comic scene. And a big part in keeping up with comics is going to comic book conventions.

So we take a BART train from Fremont to the event at Moscone Convention Center in downtown San Francisco. It is a rainy day as we emerge from the escalator out of the train station on Powell Street. A brisk walk for a few blocks takes us to the Moscone Center. It is about 11am so the big entrance lines have already went in and we casually hop in the registration line to get our entrance badges. WIth badges firmly pinned, we make it down the stairs and into the main lecture room. The plan is to stake out some good seats and hold them all dayl. It is pretty empty with programmming to begin in about an hour and a half. We get to like the third row of the middle section. We sprawl all our bags and jackets along the seats to look like we live here and stake our claim. We all agree to take shifts on the holding seats. So the non-seat holders can peruse the dealer's room or take a bathroom break. Why? Because in reality, you may have a Star Wars event where this room will be jam packed. You never know. Between exchanging shifts, I am off and on between the dealer's room and the lecture hall. And between that I grab a quick bite to eat at Mel's Dinner which is a block down the street. I get a big ol' cheeseburger. Yum! I skip the Joss Whedon 1:00 lecture for the dealers room. Yes, the almighty dealer's room. Stuff upon stuff. Same stuff as all conventions: bootleg DVD of rare tv or movies, Hong Kong DVDs, Anime Toys, Superhero toys, Vintage comics, comics people are trying to get rid of, original art, etc. I like looking at the stuff but not necessarily interested in buying. I can appreciate the craft in a tiny futuristic motorcycle DragonBall toy from Japan. There is a autograph alley in the dealer's room where you could've met celebs like Richard Hatch or Margot Kidder. Front center of the dealer's room was the industry big wig tables which I couldn't get near because of all the people, so I can't tell you who was there. I did see the demos of City of Heroes video game. There is an artist alley where you can meet the big wig industry artists to the self publishing creators. And within Artists Alley is Adult Models Avenue (that's the name I gave it). Who's to say they are not artists? I skip by this area, nothing to do with the models, it's the creepy hairy drooling men in this aisle that scare me.

The first lecture I catch is 2:00pm with Kevin Smith of Clerks, Mallrats fame. Lines were so long to even get through the door. I had to sneak in through a side door and convince the volunteer guard I already had a seat waiting. Kevin Smith gets onstage. He is full of personality and cusses a lot but the crowd seems to love it. I guess he is the ultimate hero fanboy for all geeks. The guy is a comic collector and Star Wars fan. Makes a few independent films, gets famous and then gets to write comic books and write superhero screenplays. Smith answers audience questions right away, interacts well with the fans and seemingly can make up the weirdest stories on the spot. He talked about writing the screenplay for Superman and the Green Hornet. Most questions wanted inside info like about the Superman movie and next Star Wars movie, but Kevin didn't give anything up. His movie bro, Jason Mewes makes a surprise appearance too.

330-430pm.The next speaker was Julian McMahon promoting the Fantastic Four movie. He plays on FX's Nip and Tuck, but will play Dr. Doom in the FF movie. I downloaded a pic of the crew from the web a while ago and I didn't think they looked believable. BUt seeing the trailer, I am all over that movie. It looks awesome! Even though they changed the origin of the Fantastic Four completely, I understand they have to dum down or make it more acceptable to a mainstream audience. McMahon was funny and charmed the crowd. I'm not sure he really read the Fantastic Four books like he said, but I'm sure all the actors tell us they've read the comics.

430-500pm. Next presentation had superproducer, Joel Silver and ex-24 star, Elisa Cuthbert presenting a preview for new horror flick, House of Wax. Paris Hilton was a no show for this event. I would've loved to see her, though my friends didn't care for her celebutante status. Well the movie preview showed Paris isn't much of an actress, but I thought the movie looked pretty good. During audience questions, Cuthbert admitted that she was asked to participate in future episodes of 24 but didn't reveal anything else. Another guy in the audience even admited he was a fan of hers since she was in Canada with her Nico the Unicorn movie. What? What? You know Elisa got on her celly to call security for that stalker. No, him not me.

500-530pm. The star of Batman Begins, Christian Bale takes the stage. He is the same actor who dropped his weight to like 97 lbs. for a movie role. A six minute Batman preview is shown. Security guards with binoculars watch the audience for video recording because of the absolute exclusivity of the footage. Bale admits to a much darker movie closer to the feel of the Miller Batman, I guess. In other words, more of a vengeful vigilante. Interestingly, he took to Batman as the character's real personality and Bruce Wayne was like the mask he used in public.

My friends sit and stay for the Star Wars presentation along with probably 90% of the WonderCon attendees. I, on the otherhand, use this to my advantage to take over the dealer's room. Nah, I just want to check out all the junk for sale within the last hour of the Con. So I pace up and down the aisles to whatever catches my eye. Hmmm. 5 books for $20 or everything $1. Good prices but lousy books. Everything has been cherry picked, I'm sure. I end up getting a copy of Super7 magazine with Godzilla on the cover. Inside has some good art. Then I get 3 back issues of DRAW! Magazine. This is one my favorite mags. It offers tips on shading, coloring, perspective, etc. Always a different focus and guest artist for each issue. Well, it is getting late and people are being kicked out of the dealer's room. Goodbye, Wondercon. Hello train ride home.

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