My fiancé had wanted to go to a comic convention for years, so he was excited about WonderCon and I… was semi-curious. WonderCon was so wonderful, we went back the next day! Here are ten fast facts about what you will find if you are thinking about going to a comic book convention .
Writers: Authors are the creative gas behind each comic book’s artistic engine. Steven Grant was on a panel about Boom! Studios. He shared his story of writing 2 Guns which is now a major motion picture starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg.
Richard Starkings, the writer of Elephantmen, was a gentle giant of creativity while manning his own booth. Quiet and soft-spoken, the characters he creates give an insight to his powerhouse personality. At the next convention, I will have to have him sign the free comic book he was giving away since it is now the first one I have ever read!
Actors: Within minutes of coordinating our plan of attack for the aisles and aisles of things to see, we ran into Lou Ferrigno a.k.a. The Hulk. Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Andy Serkis, and other stars stopped by to promote Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. There were more popular television shows represented than I knew. Several actors from the original Battlestar Galactica were greeting us older fans, too.
Autographs: Not only was The Hulk signing autographs with his strong muscle-laden arms *ahem*, but there were over six different areas where actors, creators and writers were signing and greeting fans. The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes signing was some kind of promotion where they signed 100 posters in less than thirty minutes. Many writers were manning their own booths and personally signing purchases. Yaya Han showed up for autographs on Sunday proving that even comic book convention fans can become famous!
Artists: There were rows and rows of original artists and famous comic book artists. Boom! Studios was encouraging illustrators to “Come Innovate With Us”. Several publishing companies were reviewing the protfolios of novice sketch artists. Every type of art was represented and artists marketed to including schools that teach make-up a la “Face Off”.
Artisans: A plethora of doohickeys and crafts were also offered to our over-whelmed eyes. Our favorites were the Steampunk and leather accessory creations, animatronic feathered dinosaurs, and Tentacle Kitty “adoptions”. Does food count for the artisan category? The Viking Truck was one of many delicious food trucks parked outside. We ate “dragon eggs” and some kind of bratwurst with mounds of heavenly melty things on it.
Cosplay: Yaya Han is known as the Queen of Cosplay because her costumes are hand-made, yet so creative and of high quality. However, after taking almost 100 photos of various people at WonderCon, I can attest that you can do nothing more than put on a colored wig and be welcomed with open arms into this safe haven sorority.
Costumes were expensive to simple. It didn’t matter. I’m not sure if half the cosplayers outside the convention center even had tickets to the event! There were superheroes, zombies, steampunk beauties and gents, fairy wings and Hunger Game arrows. There seemed to be just as many people enjoying taking pictures and sharing their creations outside as there were inside.
Classes: As a teacher, the panels on using comic books in the classroom and the Children’s Film Festival appealed to me. There were sessions for geeks, writers, artists, and readers of comic books. There were several classes about the industry and process of writing your own comic books. Three days with two floors of classrooms changing classes every hour! The escalator between classes was like attending Hijinks High School!
Comic Books: Did I tell you that I had never read a comic book before? There were oodles and oodles of booths with new and used comic books to rifle through. Kid’s comics, adult comics, sexy vixens, superheroes, and Garfield. There was something for everyone. I found my art and word fix in my new favorite book. Walking Your Octopus by Brian Kesinger is an adorable steampunk style picture book for adults.
Family-Friendly: There was no alcohol to be found anywhere on the convention center grounds to our dismay. We then realized that that lent itself well to the family-friendly nature of the event. I saw a toddler in a warrior outfit jump out of her stroller and run up to a 20-something blond hottie in a princess dress. She knelt down, tilted her head with a large smile up to her eyes, and opened her arms saying, “Hi, sweetheart!” as she gave the little girl a hug.
Kindness: Not one person got upset in the food truck lines. No kidding. Everyone was so considerate when taking photos. People waited for their turn and held cameras for each other. No one stepped in the way of a picture. Cosplayers posed in groups together for everyone to get shots.
I counted five times that I watched someone call out to a stranger, “You dropped (this)!” As we were ready to leave, all at once we noticed that there had been no music playing anywhere the entire two days. Except for the hilarious “Psi guy” who randomly danced ten-second trots to Gangnam Style.
This was the largest crowd of people we had ever been with that retained it’s peacefulness and joy. There were smiles… everywhere. Gentle quiet… everywhere. Kindness and costumes… everywhere. Hey, even the bathrooms were clean!
Anywhere you find yourself in the future with the opportunity to attend a comic book convention, I encourage you to go.