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WonderCon

Con Games

Various websites are debating whether WonderCon will or should try to remain in Anaheim or if it will or should revert to San Francisco. I'd prefer the latter and have no inside info into which is likely. I do know that securing dates in either venue is more than a matter of calling up and reserving space. It begins with the question of when the venue has space open…and how much space. WonderCon has always drawn huge crowds in San Francisco but it's not a convention that the Moscone Center fights to secure each year. When we convene in San Diego for Comic-Con, we have a major impact on the local economy for about a week: Hotels fill to capacity, restaurant business soars, etc. This is why I say that the folks who run the convention center down there would be brain-dead loopy — and would probably infuriate local merchants — to ever let Comic-Con go elsewhere.

WonderCon in San Francisco does not have quite the same local impact. It draws enough attendees to qualify as one of the biggest conventions in town all year…but the attendees tend to take the BART in for a day, buy stuff at the con, then go home. They don't flood the hotels or make a huge difference to the dining establishments. This doesn't mean S.F. doesn't want WonderCon back; just that no one there's going to lose his or her job if they relocate…as they had to, this year. (The Moscone is undergoing extensive renovation so not as many conventions as usual could be accommodated. WonderCon did not make the cut.)

WonderCon in Anaheim looks to have been a huge success…this time. Having no idea what kind of dates or rates they'd get in the future, I have just as much of an idea as to whether Anaheim would be possible or preferable from now on. I do suspect though that if the folks who run WonderCon (who also, of course, run Comic-Con and APE) go back to San Francisco, someone else will try to replicate what they did with WonderCon in Anaheim. And if they abandon San Francisco, someone else will try to do something like WonderCon up there.

The other question folks were asking this past weekend was a What If? What if Comic-Con was going to someday move out of San Diego? Would Anaheim work? Would it even be preferable?

Again, I dunno for certain. Comic-Con seems to be a July thing. There were a lot of complaints this past weekend about traffic and parking, even when it wasn't raining…and this was March. July is the biggest month of the year for that place nearby with the Matterhorn and the Indiana Jones ride. What would the freeways and parking lots be like then? How many hotel rooms in the area wouldn't be filled by families wearing mouse ears? The physical space at the Anaheim Convention Center seems sufficient but that's not the entire story. I'm inclined to think (or maybe just hope) the question is moot because Comic-Con will not have to relocate. I know its operators would prefer it to stay where it is. But assuming they had to migrate and dates and lodging were available in Anaheim, it seems like more of a viable option than it did before. Hope it never comes to that.

The Day After

Folks are sending me a lot of "complaints about WonderCon" and I put that in quotes because most of them seem to be complaints about the California freeway system and/or the weather. I can check on this but I don't think the convention staff directs either or can do anything to improve things except not to have their convention next to Disneyland.

I'm not suggesting they not have another con in Anaheim, though I preferred San Francisco; just pointing out that the traffic situation in this area (I'm still here) is about as uncontrollable as the rain. If it could be improved, the Disney folks would have made darn sure that had been done. Few parts of Southern California operate well when we have that water stuff coming out of the sky…and weekends near The Magic Kingdom, freeway bustle slows to the rate of the line into Space Mountain. Until the Santa Ana Freeway institutes FastPass, that is how it shall be.

I was not wild about the Anaheim Convention Center…though perhaps other parts of it are better. WonderCon was one of three gatherings here over the weekend and the place was otherwise full of volleyball players and cheerleaders. From our hotel room, Carolyn and I had a nice view of the swimming pool wherein some of them rehearsed routines. (We were on the twelfth floor. At one point, I got into an elevator with six uniformed cheerleaders, all about 15 years old. I couldn't get to the elevator controls so I told them, "Gimme a twelve!" And none of them laughed.)

Anyway, I just wanted to remind you all that I am not the Complaint Department for this or any other convention I attend. And really, some of you: If you're driving on the 5 near Disneyland on a Saturday morning in moderate-to-heavy rain, what do you expect?

WonderFul WonderCon

Despite rainy weather and traffic so bad that at least a few folks turned back and went home, WonderCon was packed today. Folks kept asking me, "Does this mean they won't go back to San Francisco?" I have no idea. The math on an event like this can be complicated and impossible to discern from the spectator seats. In all my years of attending conventions and working with the Comic-Con International folks, the one thing I've learned for sure is how much of it I don't know. I know it's not just a matter of cramming a lot of bodies into a convention hall. Folks have managed to do that without breaking even or turning a profit.

Folks seemed to enjoy my two panels today…and I know I did. I interviewed Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, who told all about writing and producing cartoon shows for television. They were film editors when they started writing the interstitial gag segments for Huckleberry Hound and before long, they were writers, producers and show runners of some of the most popular animated programming on television. They told about creating Scooby Doo and later starting their own studio…and the whole conversation could have gone on a lot longer than the hour we had. A few years ago, a major publisher was interested in me doing a big, fancy art book/bio of these guys and I'm not sure why that didn't happen. That was a book that should be written.

Later, I did a Cartoon Voice Panel with Laraine Newman, Gregg Berger, Bill Farmer, Alicyn Packard and Wally Wingert. Michael Bell was supposed to join us but he was one of those folks who braved the weather and the freeway snarl but had to turn back. These panels are always a lot of fun even though there's really nothing I can quote here that would amuse you. You kinda have to be there.

Same with Quick Draw!, which we did yesterday — our first Sergio-less one. As you've read here, my partner Sergio Aragonés has been recovering from back problems. He has returned to his drawing table but he's way behind so will not be conventioning for a time. We soldiered on with Scott Shaw!, Mike Kazaleh and Floyd Norman drawing up a storm along with guest cartoonists Batton Lash, Carol Lay and Thom Zahler. Oh — and we had Sergio there…by phone. I called him and he said hello to a packed house (which said hello back to him) and he gave our dueling cartoonists a nice drawing challenge. He'll be back for Quick Draw! at Comic-Con in July and to make up for his absence at this one, we're going to make him draw twice as fast there.

I'm getting summoned to an event so I'll wrap this up for now, post a video link and get outta here. More tomorrow. Or sometime.

WonderFul WonderCon

wondercon2012

If you're at WonderCon tomorrow, know that at 11:30 AM in Room 211, I'll be interviewing Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, the most successful writing, creating, and producing team in Saturday morning television. Among the shows they brought you were Scooby-Doo, Wacky Racers, Jabberjaw, Dynomutt, Thundarr the Barbarian, Plastic Man and more than I can list. They don't sit for this kind of chat often so I'm real pleased we've been able to persuade them to do this.

Then at 3 PM in Room 213, you'll want to attend the Cartoon Voices panel. This time, we have Gregg Berger (The Garfield Show), Laraine Newman (The Fairly OddParents), Wally Wingert (The Avengers), Bill Farmer (Goofy), Alicyn Packard (The Mr. Men Show), Michael Bell (G.I. Joe), and maybe a few others.

Many of those voice actors will be at a table in the exhibit hall on Saturday and Sunday. It's Table 898 and as of when I was there earlier today, it wasn't well-labelled. It's at the very end of the "800" row. Swing by and meet some of those talented folks and maybe get yourself an autographed photo.

Wonderful WonderCon

If you're going to WonderCon this weekend in Anaheim, this handy guide will tell you loads of stuff you'll probably want to know.

And you'll probably want to dress for wet weather. At the moment, it looks like rain starting late Friday night or early Saturday morning, rain most of Saturday, then a tapering-off and occasional showers on Sunday. If you're going to be driving through the mountains or the Grapevine area, don't drive through the mountains or the Grapevine area.

I'm hosting five panels over the three days. Here's the rundown again…

Friday, March 16 at 2 PM in Room 204, we'll be playing Quick Draw! And an interesting twist this time is that we'll be playing it without my partner Sergio Aragonés, who is recuperating from back problems and who won't be at the con. But we'll have Scott Shaw!, Mike Kazaleh and Disney Legend Floyd Norman drawing away, along with several surprise cartoonists all moving their Sharpies at a rapid clip. This is always a highlight of any convention so get there early.

Saturday, March 17 at 11:30 AM in Room 211, I'll be interviewing Joe Ruby and Ken Spears. The team of Ruby and Spears has been the most successful writing, creating, and producing team in Saturday morning television. Among the shows they brought you were Scooby-Doo, Wacky Racers, Jabberjaw, Dynomutt, Thundarr the Barbarian, Plastic Man and more than I can list. They don't sit for this kind of chat often so I'm real pleased we've been able to persuade them to do this.

Saturday, March 17 at 3 PM in Room 213, you'll want to attend the Cartoon Voices panel. This time, we have Gregg Berger (The Garfield Show), Laraine Newman (The Fairly OddParents), Wally Wingert (The Avengers), Bill Farmer (Goofy), Alicyn Packard (The Mr. Men Show), Michael Bell (G.I. Joe), and maybe a few others.

Sunday, March 18 at 11:30 AM in Room 211, we have a panel called Tribute to the Legends: Kirby, Simon, Robinson, and Eisner. That is, of course, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Jerry Robinson and Will Eisner. This'll consist of Scott Shaw!, Len Wein, Batton Lash, Marv Wolfman and maybe a few other folks discussing the vital contributions that Jack, Joe, Jerry and Will made to the world of comics, along with some personal remembrances. Sadly, we no longer really have the personnel to do a Golden Age Panel at a convention…but we can still talk about those folks.

Sunday, March 18 at 12:30 in Room 207, I'll be presiding over Cover Story: The Art of the Cover. This is a popular panel with those interested in comic art theories and craft. We bring up a bunch of artists who do great covers, show slides of some of their covers and discuss what went right and wrong with those covers. This time, we have Arthur Adams (Monkeyman and O'Brien), Michael Golden (The ‘Nam), Mike Mignola (Hellboy), Eric Powell (The Goon), and Fiona Staples (Saga). I always find this fascinating and audiences seem to, as well.

That's the list. To repeat for emphasis: Sergio Aragonés will not be at this convention…or any others for at least a month or two. Sergio's back problems are healing nicely but this kind of thing takes time so he's having to curtail his con-going for a while.

I, on the other hand, will be at the con all three days. I adhere to a firm principle at conventions of demanding they not give me a table so you won't find me sitting behind one. But I'll be wandering about and loitering at other folks' tables so if you see me, say howdy. Or words to that effect.

Wonderful WonderCon

Hard to believe it's less than two weeks 'til WonderCon happens in Anaheim, California. This has always been a good con when it's been held in San Francisco and I see no reason to think that proximity to Disneyland will make it any less fun. I'm hosting a batch o' panels (what a surprise) and this seems like as good a time as any to tell you of them…

Friday, March 16 at 2 PM in Room 204, we'll be playing Quick Draw! And an interesting twist this time is that we'll be playing it without my partner Sergio Aragonés, who is recuperating from back problems and who won't be at the con. But we'll have Scott Shaw!, Mike Kazaleh and Disney Legend Floyd Norman drawing away, along with several surprise cartoonists all moving their Sharpies at a rapid clip. This is always a highlight of any convention so get there early.

Saturday, March 17 at 11:30 AM in Room 211, I'll be interviewing Joe Ruby and Ken Spears. The team of Ruby and Spears has been the most successful writing, creating, and producing team in Saturday morning television. Among the shows they brought you were Scooby-Doo, Wacky Racers, Jabberjaw, Dynomutt, Thundarr the Barbarian, Plastic Man and more than I can list. They don't sit for this kind of chat often so I'm real pleased we've been able to persuade them to do this.

Saturday, March 17 at 3 PM in Room 213, you'll want to attend the Cartoon Voices panel. This time, we have Gregg Berger (The Garfield Show), Laraine Newman (The Fairly OddParents), Wally Wingert (The Avengers), Bill Farmer (Goofy), Alicyn Packard (The Mr. Men Show), Michael Bell (G.I. Joe), and maybe a few others. If you want to know more about this, I recorded a brief interview with Alicyn for one of her popular podcasts. Go listen.

Sunday, March 18 at 11:30 AM in Room 211, we have a panel called Tribute to the Legends: Kirby, Simon, Robinson, and Eisner. That is, of course, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Jerry Robinson and Will Eisner. This'll consist of Scott Shaw!, Len Wein, Batton Lash, Marv Wolfman and maybe a few other folks discussing the vital contributions that Jack, Joe, Jerry and Will made to the world of comics, along with some personal remembrances. Sadly, we no longer really have the personnel to do a Golden Age Panel at a convention…but we can still talk about those folks.

Sunday, March 18 at 12:30 in Room 207, I'll be presiding over Cover Story: The Art of the Cover. This is a popular panel with those interested in comic art theories and craft. We bring up a bunch of artists who do great covers, show slides of some of their covers and discuss what went right and wrong with those covers. This time, we have Arthur Adams (Monkeyman and O'Brien), Michael Golden (The 'Nam), Mike Mignola (Hellboy), Eric Powell (The Goon), and Fiona Staples (Saga). I always find this fascinating and audiences seem to, as well.

That's the list. As always, I suggest that if you're in attendance at the con that you jot down a list of panels you want to see…and you can even attend a few not hosted by me. I hear a few of them aren't bad. The complete Programming Schedule is online. And if you're not going to be in attendance at the con, I suggest you be in attendance at the con. I know it's gonna be great…though to tell you the truth, I kinda hope it won't be so great that they don't go back to San Francisco next year.

The Wonders of WonderCon

WonderCon is less than three weeks away.  For those of you who find the Comic-Con in San Diego too overwhelming, this one may be just right.  And for those of you who can't wait for Comic-Con, WonderCon can be a nice way to tide you over 'til then.  Run by the same expert crew, it's a smaller convention…though still bigger than most.  I've been to many in San Francisco and always enjoyed myself.  This year, it's in a new venue in Anaheim, a hoot and a holler from the Magic Kingdom so it'll be different…but I see no reason to expect it'll be any less enjoyable.  Details can he had here.

But the details you really want are in the Programming Schedule, which has just been posted online.  I'll be helming a Sergio-less Quick Draw! on Friday and a Cartoon Voices panel on Saturday afternoon.  Also, earlier on Saturday, I'll be interviewing Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, who were easily the most important people to create and produce animation for Saturday morning and who weren't named Hanna or Barbera.  More on Joe and Ken in another posting to come.

On Sunday, I'll be emceeing a panel on four legendary greats of the comic book field — Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Jerry Robinson and Will Eisner.  And I'll be hosting another Art of the Cover discussion with five of today's most skilled creators of comic book covers.  I'll tell you more about all these events in the next few days.  I do suggest that if you're thinking of attending that you check out the schedule and jot down what you want to see and when it is.  You will note that the two events you most want to attend are scheduled opposite each other but that's how it always is.

Convention Mentions

I do not know when the full load of hotel rooms (or admissions) for Comic-Con International will be made available. I know the con folks are working like crazy to perfect the system before they open the floodgates. But just when you'll be able to book your rooms and badges, I can't tell you, nor should you count on me being your source for this information. If I were you, I'd keep a careful watch on the convention website.

Right now over there, there's an opportunity to reserve a room early at a reduced price if you'd like to stay out in the Mission Valley area. This is not that far from the action and a lot of folks prefer to be able to "get away" from the convention and just take the shuttle in each day. If this appeals to you, go read this page.

Every day or so, I get an e-mail from someone who's thinking of attending the con for the first time but is wary of the crowds and the hassles and the lines and such. Do not be wary. First off, you're hearing the occasional horror stories of the complainers. They're usually exaggerating the inconvenience and giving you the downside without the up. I know folks who follow each Comic-Con with vows of "Never again." Then three months later, they're asking me when badges will be available for the next one because they don't want to miss a minute.

Secondly, the reason it's crowded is that people have a great time there. It's one of those things you need to experience at least once…and if you do, you may discover you never want to miss it again. As George S. Kaufman once said, "You should try everything in life once except incest and folk-dancing."

If the size 'n' scope of Comic-Con intimidates you, there's an alternative. WonderCon, which is being held in Anaheim on St. Patrick's Day weekend — about a month from now — is kind of a junior version of San Diego. No one's sure how big it'll be this year because they've never held it in Anaheim before…but it can't be anywhere close to as big as San Diego. In its usual San Francisco locale, WonderCon has always been a friendlier, less mobbed gathering and it's operated by the same folks with the same skill and love of the media. You can get details about it here and you can book your badge and lodging right this minute.

Conventional Wisdom

If the new issue of Comic-Con Annual isn't arriving in your mailbox, as mine did yesterday, you can read it or download it here. This is a promotional publication for the Comic-Con International but it's also a good magazine full of articles, including one by me. It's so good, I hesitate to point out that the photo on page 24 of the Groo crew misidentifies our first colorist, Gordon Kent, as his successor in the job, Tom Luth. Other than that, it's perfect.

Convention Hopping

The Comic-Con International has released its full list of special guests for the 2012 shindig. As usual, I'm on it. They're not allowed to have that convention without me. The con takes place July 12-15 (with a Preview Night on the 11th) and no, I don't know when tickets will be available. Keep your eyes on the convention website.

I will also be a guest-type person at WonderCon, which takes place this year in Anaheim. The dates for that one are March 16-18 with no Preview Night. For those of you who've never attended Comic-Con because you fear its size, WonderCon is operated by the same skilled operators and is somewhat smaller in scope 'n' size. Which is not to say the place won't be packed with folks to meet and things to see and buy. I will be hosting panels at both these conventions…and some of the same ones like Quick Draw! and at least one Cartoon Voices panel. I'll tell you which days these will occur as soon as things are set in stone. Or at least dried Play-Doh.

Suite Stuff

If you're thinking of attending the WonderCon in Anaheim, California…just a dwarf's throw from Disneyland. The festival is March 16-18 and this would be a dandy time to make that hotel reservation. They won't sell out by the time you finish reading this item the way they do for San Diego…but they probably will sell out. I suspect the convention will be quite well-attended but that the most of the folks from L.A. and surrounding areas who will pack the place will commute from home.

People keep asking me if this means WonderCon will likely remain in Anaheim. As you may know, San Francisco is WonderCon's home and they'd be there this year but for the fact that the Moscone Center is undergoing renovation and doesn't have space for us. The answer to the question about the future is that the convention organizers seem to have every intention of returning to S.F. when they can…but who knows? If Anaheim is wildly successful, maybe they'll stay. Or start an Anaheim convention to go along with San Francisco.