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WonderCon Profile

March 21, 2012 9:55 a.m.

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando profiles Comic-Con's little sister, WonderCon.

Related Story: Event Highlight: WonderCon


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

ANCHOR INTRO: If you were unable to buy tickets for this summer's Comic-Con then you might want to consider WonderCon. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando profiles Comic-Con's sister convention.

On the morning of March 3rd badges for Comic-Con went up for sale and closed in less than 2 hours. Twitter and FaceBook were abuzz with people either elated they'd gotten the coveted badges or enraged because they got shutout of the process and would not be attending North America's biggest pop culture convention in July. Comic-Con needs to cap attendance at 130,00 because it has maxed out San Diego Convention Center space. But WonderCon still has badges available for this weekend. What's WonderCon? David Glanzer calls it Comic-Con's little sister.

DAVID GLANZER: WonderCon started about 25 years ago, this is it's 26th year and it's always been in the Bay Area and it's very similar to Comic-Con in that it's a popular arts convention that centers on comic books first, but toys, games, movies, television, things of that nature.

But about half the size with 50,000 attendees last year. Glanzer is the spokesman for Comic-Con International, which oversees both conventions. He describes WonderCon as Comic-Con lite. Anthony Buonocore agrees. He's been to WonderCon 4 times.

ANTHONY BUONOCORE: This one is smaller and less crowded, and I kind of like that. The Comic-Con is big and it's got a lot going on and it's fun to go to but this is less packed and when I'm looking for something specific it's a lot easier to get around...

And even easier this year because WonderCon is in a bigger space than usual. Normally WonderCon takes place in San Francisco but renovations to that city's convention center forced WonderCon to find a temporary home this year at the Anaheim Convention Center. This means San Diegans wanting a Comic-Con like experience but without the stress of having to compete for badges and then waiting in long lines for panels can travel less than two hour north and walk right up to the door and buy a badge for the 3-day convention.

Anaheim is also the Convention Center trying to woo Comic-Con away from San Diego. But Glanzer warns not to try and read too much into the fact that WonderCon is trying out the Anaheim Convention Center.

DAVID GLANZER: There's no ulterior motive to having it in Anaheim if there is a side benefit it will be that we will have done a show in Anaheim so we'll understand how that facility works but we didn't put the cart before the horse.

As for WonderCon, the plan is to return to San Francisco, but no dates have yet been set for 2013. The Bay Area is also where the non-profit organization hosts APE, the Alternative Press Expo, a convention geared toward very independent and self-published small press.

DAVID GLANZER: We have a mission statement to bring comics and the popular arts to the public. And each of those three shows help us to fulfill that.

WonderCon takes its programming cue from Comic-Con, and it pays to check out the schedule in advance says Glanzer.

DAVID GLANZER: I think the important thing when you come to WonderCon is, as we always say, is look at the events guide, look at the program book , figure out what it is you want to see and take your time and have a good time.

WonderCon has DC and Marvel booths, seminars on animation voiceover, a presentation on how to build your own R2 unit, panels on TV shows like "Fringe" and "Alcatraz," and a Hollywood presence.

CLIP Prometheus trailer... My name is Peter Weyland and if you will indulge me, I'd like to change the world.

20th Century Fox will have a panel on Ridley Scott's new film "Prometheus," the prequel to "Alien," and Columbia will showcases Marvel's "The Amazing Spider-Man." That panel points to the changing nature of the comics world. Comics publishers like Marvel and DC are no longer just publishers. They're also involved in movies, gaming, and online comics. But it's all a part of our popular culture says Glanzer.

DAVID GLANZER: It may not be traditional art but who says art has to be traditional.

That lack of tradition is also reflected in the company that oversees the conventions. Comic-Con has about two dozen full-time staffers and none of them could be described as your typical business or corporate types.

DAVID GLANZER: We are all fans, it sounds kind of corny but we really do put on the type of event we want to attend.

Glanzer has a final word of advice for fellow fans planning to attend WonderCon this weekend:

DAVID GLANZER: Wear comfortable shoes because you'll be doing a lot of walking. And stay hydrated.

Got it!

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.

TAG: WonderCon starts today at the Anaheim Convention Center and runs through Sunday. You can find more information at Cinema Junkie on K-P-B-S-dot-O-R-G.