The 2016 convention season has opened with quite a different direction this year. Starting early with the debut of Silicon Valley Comic Con, the first time outing by tech guru Steve Wozniak and leading into Wonder-Con moving into the LA Convention Center for the first (and supposedly only) time while Anaheim remodels. I had my reservations about how the move might affect Wonder-Con, but we were looking forward to hitting the show.
Right off the bat I’ll end the suspense and say that the attendance was not impacted in the least by the switching of venues. There was a record turnout and the convention center was hopping all Easter weekend (c’mon this is G33k-hq, you have to expect bad puns 😉 We found it a bit ironic that even with the change of location, Wonder-Con packed more fans into convention center than long time occupant Comikaze ever has. I guess something can be said for carpeting!
We got up early on Friday and loaded up the car for the long haul down to LA. I’m not a morning person, so getting up a 5am takes superhuman effort on my part. The drive down was safe and uneventful, we hit our hotel, the Westin Bonaventure, ahead of schedule and were able to check in early. The Bonaventure is famous for being in many genre movies and TV shows, Interstellar, True Lies, Hard to Kill, and Buck Rogers to name a few. There is a museum of movie posters downstairs displaying some of the more notable films that have used this location.
Picking up our badges to the con took some time, but the staff was friendly and quick once we got up there. We hit the convention floor to check out the dealers room first We were hoping to beat the crowds of the weekend and then shoot photos the next day. As always, there was a great selection of vendors and artists to see. There was an awesome Capcom set-up featuring Street Fighter V, they had multiple stations where you could show off your fighting skills. I was happy to see more comic dealers than I have in the past, but they are now still clearly in the minority. The dealer’s room floor sort of reminds me of surfing the internet, Minecraft, Funco Pops, and Mystery Boxes seem to dominate the floor. Sideshow Collectibles had an awesome booth with tons of their new and classic statues on display. Artist Alley was full of fantastic work, it was all I could do to walk through there and spend all my allowance. The line for the official Wonder-Con t-shirts was long all weekend, by the time it had subsided on Sunday they were almost completely out of shirts. I’m sort of surprised WC doesn’t A: have a larger booth to service more customers at once and B: make more of the damn shirts! They ALWAYS sell out 🙁
The panel schedule was full, but to be honest there were so many repeat offerings I’ve seen several times before that I passed on most of it. We did sit in on the Photographers Panel and saw several of our professional associates explain their role in fandom and what they bring to conventions, namely tons of free advertising! Brief soapbox here, if it wasn’t for the legions of blogs, websites, gallery page owners coming to these conventions and taking the pics they do, we’d never see half of the great costumes and events. We spent most of my day roaming, taking pictures, and exploring and we still see pictures on social media of awesome cosplays that were missed. It is time for conventions, especially larger ones to acknowledge the benefit they receive from independent press!….end of rant.
There were a few parties and after hours events to keep us busy. It would be nice to see Wonder-Con host something official in one of the hotels for the fans. The Staples Center/LA Live had lots of great choices of places to eat. A bunch of us ended up at the Japanese restaurant, Katsuya. The food there was excellent!
I was glad I got to run into so many of my friends and fellow cosplayers this last weekend. For some of these people it is the only time they get to see their con-families! Easter Sunday was met with an invasion of bunny themed costumes, there were some really creative takes on established characters and some great originals too. The Cinema Makeup School displayed their work in the lobby with an EPIC Thanos and a body painted Alice in Wonderland that was truly spectacular.
All in all this was one of the best Wonder-Cons I’ve attended in years, I had a great time hanging with the rest of the G33k-hq team!
All photos in this gallery from Danny “Dviouz1” DeLuna