The good news: WonderCon 2005 is a hit.
Not by margins that make people search for how to describe it but by emphatic reports. “It’s so much better than last year!” as I check in with someone who’d had less than stellar things to say about it a year ago (compare this to a Tirade
post about WonderCon a year ago
). The aisles were busy with attendees on the half day of the Friday opening that easily overtook any pessimism of how this year will be. By Saturday it was a full blown mob that could almost rival a San Diego crowd ( If you were at S.D. you know about that mega all-media frenzy that tend to make devoted fans of comics question, “Is this a comic-con anymore?”).
The rains didn’t deter the determined crowds from appearing and partaking of what the organizers had wisely gambled on: Move WonderCon earlier in line on the convention going calendar away from San Diego Comic-con. Swapping succession with the independent fest APE, WonderCon can now tide fans over, coming from the winter holidays and hibernation (just enough time to recover some finances from that gift-giving hullabaloo) and well before you really have to do taxes—is all very welcome it appears. Smashing Biscuit Mia
is the conglomeration of the moment that Enrico Casarosa, Bill Presing and myself had forged just for WonderCon. It is our first year at WonderCon as exhibitors and we are very happy to be part of the success of this con. We were busy, at times as much as San Diego, but the comparative leisure to connect with fans and pros was such a welcome relief—we actually convened! Look at the people who I managed to bug--my apologies to all whose conversations I barged into in my fervor to document the event.
Bruce Timm and I meet every year here at WonderCon to catch up, brief as it is, and here he was reliable as sunrise. Paul Dini came by to catch up and reports not only that he is writing on the TV hit “Lost” but is also engaged! Congratulations! There's another certain bachelor who also got engaged recently, I'd blab about it here but he should announce that himself. But congratulations anyway, buddy! Jeff Pidgeon and Anita Coulter were roaming the con looking for treasure and certainly found them--they do conventions right, I swear. Jamie Baker and Rhode Montijo (Nerve Bomb and Pablo's Inferno) were bookends to us on the floor; they are great partners to be close to. Alex Woo (director of Rex Steel) and Christine Wei were there in our booth doing blazing commerce. Stuart Ng did land office sales with a new Claire Wendling book--it was the book to have at this con as well a loads of albums from France that Stuart is threatening to unleash on us as the orders come in--I put myself down for all of them, course. Howard M. Shum (Gun fu) and Alberto Ruiz (Dr. Cyberfunken to you) who sat next to each other handed me goodies, thanks guys. Charles Kiyasu and his beauteous wife, Fe, graced our booth for a spell; Jennifer Wang of Flight came by to say hi; the ever reliable Karen checked up on us regularly and even left me with a Constantine memento of a the noisy cricket in a matchbox; Tony Salmons along with daughter Phoebe posed with Steve Oliff for a photo for me. There was also the contingent from the grand tradition of Komiks from the Philippines, legends Tony de Zuniga, Ernie Chua, Danny Bulanadi. Towards the end of the con gentle giant Steve Leialoha came by to say hi, we were passing each other on the way to handling matters the whole time and this was our one time to really regard each other properly. Thank you Steve.
Dan Brereton came by and we finally got to talk about the success of his gaming book on the Nocturnals. It was at WonderCon that we spoke about my possibly doing drawings for the book, Nocturnals Midnight Companion
a year earlier or so. And here we finallly are, the book has won three ENnie Awards already. Glad to have been a part of it. I had unceremoniously blasted through a dialogue Al Gordon was having with someone to ask him what he thought of the convention and he was exuberant about how like night and day it was. Paige Braddock had the same report as well--we traded books and I must say that having a book to trade with at this convention is one of the best reasons to self-publish (if not outright be published by someone, that is), you have new things to read!
A gentleman came by the table and addressed me by name, " Ronnie, I have to say that..." Well, I'll have to reconstruct this because I lost all track of what was said after I saw his name tag. "Howard Chaykin," it read. I got up immediately and maybe cut him off as he paid me compliment upon compliment. I shook his hand and blathered on about being a big fan, managed to gain some awareness of my surroundings to introduce Enrico...we now both were doing the same thing. I think it was gawking. Anyway, I handed him copies of my books and so did Enrico. Howard seemed genuinely flattered with our gesture and we talked some more. Inquisitve, he asked about us and what we did, and then he volunteered that " When I saw "The Incredibles I sh*t blood." He goes on to say that an imminent movie about a super family can never capture what might have been rightfully theirs because of Brad's obvious powers. We agree.
I was so flabbergasted that Howard Chaykin came over to the table looking to speak to me that I really didn't get my bearings on events till much later. I forgot to snap a picture. I found him later in the middle of a rather substantial circle in the Image booth. I snapped a picture from a distance (hence, the blurred image) and managed to stop the proceedings. My manners had completely left me all day Saturday (I even disturbed an ongoing dialogue earlier between Bruce and Mark Chiarello. Oh, boy). Eric Larsen talked to me, jovial as ever, and we traded business cards," Howard tells me that he got all this stuff from you." I remind Eric that I see him here every year and he could've had stuff from me anytime. What's more, he lives in Oakland. We're practically neighbors.
Okay, I have more to say but it is really just about how glad I was that WonderCon seemed to have found traction here in the Moscone Center. Jamie Baker and I talk briefly and he was feeling good as well, "I'm just really happy to see this succeeding." I applaud the leadership of the organizers for taking action and finding its footing finally. I hope to be back here again next year and hopefully along with a larger exhibitor and fan base--and if all indications are correct, that's probably a safe bet.