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WonderCon Moves To L.A.

Comic-Con International has to move pop culture convention yet again to get the dates and space needed

WonderCon, the sister convention to Comic-Con, closed its 2015 show in Anaheim on Sunday with the news of change for next year. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando explains why the pop culture convention is moving.



L.A. Convention Center Press Release

L.A. Convention Center Press Release

Press release from the L.A. Convention Center about WonderCon moving to LA.

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WonderCon, the sister convention to Comic-Con, closed its 2015 show in Anaheim on Sunday with the news of change for next year.

As WonderCon drew to a close on Sunday, dealers (who were signing up for next year's convention) were all abuzz and telling attendees that WonderCon would not be an Anaheim in 2016. Then at the Talk Back Panel, an attendee asked about the change in venue and was told next year's WonderCon would be at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The change of venue was officially confirmed Monday morning by David Glanzer, spokesperson for Comic-Con International, the nonprofit organization that oversees both pop culture conventions.

"WonderCon in 2016 will be in Los Angeles," Glanzer said. "We didn’t have the space requirements in Anaheim so we looked around, and Los Angeles was able to accommodate us."

WonderCon has a history of moving around. It began in Oakland in 1987, then moved to San Francisco in 2003. But when the Moscone Center underwent renovations and could not accommodate the convention, WonderCon was forced to seek a new home in Anaheim in 2012.

Glanzer said the Anaheim Convention Center had "worked fine for us up until this coming year when again we were having to find a new space because we just didn’t have the facility space we needed on the dates we needed."

Securing dates and the proper amount of space has always been difficult, and at this point Glanzer said 2017 is up for grabs.

"I think all cities are open. We’d still love to get back to San Francisco as well but that has been very difficult to do," Glanzer said. "Most facilities will give us at least a one year heads up — some facilities less time, and the less time an organization has the more difficult it is to secure exhibitors, advertising, getting the word out, things of that nature. So ideally we’d love to have a long lead time but that’s not always possible."

WonderCon attracted about 40,000 attendees when it moved to Anaheim and was seen as a welcome relief from the overcrowded Comic-Con in San Diego. But the number of attendees has almost doubled at Anaheim so organizers have used more and more convention center space to keep up.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Beth Accomando

One parent dressed his kid as a Jawa and had him carry a "Vader is Lord" sign to counter the religious protesters outside the Anaheim Convention Center at the 2015 WonderCon.

"When we moved to Anaheim we took a certain amount of space. The response was so overwhelming we were able to expand and have done so every year," Glanzer said. "Moving to Los Angeles is a completely new scenario. It’s like launching a whole new show. It’s a new venue. It’s a new city. We’re going to have to learn how it works. We have an abundance of space (available in L.A.) so we will probably secure as much space as we have had here but if interest in WonderCon increases from exhibitors, it affords us the ability to expand a bit."

The announced move to L.A. has WonderCon fans divided, including those on the Cinema Junkie Facebook page.

Glanzer said that there is one other challenge with WonderCon.

"Unlike Comic-Con, WonderCon works on a year-to-year basis in terms of contracts," he said. "Comic-Con — we try to do further out but I will say we are coming down to the wire on Comic-Con as well because we’re signed in San Diego to 2016 but not after that; 2016 is certainly going to be a challenge. Hopefully, we can figure out early on what will happen with WonderCon as well. We’ve been grateful to Los Angeles as well for treating us very nicely and allowing us the space."

The L.A. Convention Center seems to be seizing the opportunity to permanently attract one of two successful pop culture conventions.

In a press release distributed Monday morning from the L.A. Convention Center, Mayor Eric Garcetti made it clear how important it is for the city to work with Comic-Con International.

"Los Angeles is honored to have been selected as the destination for WonderCon 2016," Garcetti said. "We look forward to establishing a long-term partnership with Comic-Con International, the presenter, and helping them establish a home-base in L.A. We anticipate the show to be highly attended and to set the precedent for future successful Comic-Con events in L.A."

The L.A. Convention Center definitely has more space to offer and is clearly wooing Comic-Con International. Having WonderCon in L.A. next year will at least allow the organization to check out the facility and see what it has to offer.


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Beth Accomando
Arts & Culture Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.

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