Two weekends ago I had the chance to attend Wondercon, the sister convention to San Diego Comic Con, in Anaheim, CA. Filled with thousands of cosplayers, unique panels, interactive experiences, exciting vendors, and more, Wondercon appeals to all fandoms from Disney to horror. My first year attending I had found myself incredibly overwhelmed, but this year, I was able to navigate the exhibitors floor with ease while also attending some really exceptional panels.
Upon arriving at Wondercon, I decided to take the first portion of my day to walk the vendor floor as I was on a question to retrieve a vinyl record from one of my favorite record suppliers, Waxword Records. Though they were sold out of what I was looking for, it was still great to finally put a face to the name while also inquiring about upcoming releases (be on the lookout for the IT score). From there I did some more shopping and meandering while I killed time before arriving at my first event, THE TERROR EXPERIENCE.
Having been a fan of author Dan Simmons, and having read “The Terror” a few years ago, my excitement for this experience was at a maximum high. Situated slightly off site from the convention, past the delicious smelling food trucks, was a white shipping container with the words THE TERROR scrawled across it. Two men, dressed to the nines in seaman’s uniforms, shouted to the crowd that they were looking for brave souls to embark on this voyage. For those not familiar with “The Terror” it is based on the true story of the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror which got lost during an expedition int the Arctic in 1846. However, this isn’t a simple tale of ships having lost their way, as there is an unexplained predator stalking the crew on these ice-locked ships. The experience itself, which was a preview for the show premiering on AMC, gave guests a glimpse into what they could expect. Guests got the chance to sit in a makeshift boat while fake snow fell from above and an almost 360 degree screen which flashed terrifying scenes from the show. Overall, I absolutely LOVED this experience, and though it was definitely more mild than the experiences I’m used to going to it still felt surreal to be immersed in a story that I had fallen in love with years prior.
Upon exiting THE TERROR EXPERIENCE I made my way over to my first panel. Though not necessarily horror per say, I had been intrigued with the announcement of the “Lost In Space” reboot coming from Netflix, especially since it was being helmed by one of my favorite directors, Neil Marshall. During the “Lost In Space” panel, attendees were treated to the first episode and man oh man, did it deliver. I found myself laughing at the humor while also tearing up during the more intense and heartbreaking moments. Having not watched the original “Lost In Space” from 1965, I went into this with zero expectations and I think that’s one of the reasons why I enjoyed the first episode so much. After it sneak peek ended, the cast of the show came out which included Toby Stephens (who plays John Robinson), Molly Parker (who plays Maureen Robinson), Maxwell Jenkins (who plays Will Robinson), Mina Sundwall (who plays Penny Robinson), Taylor Russell (who plays Judy Robinson), Ignacio Serricchio (who plays Don West), and Parker Posey (who plays Dr. Smith).
During the Q&A, which was moderated by Clarke Wolfe, the cast talked about what it was like to work on the show as well as what fans can expect from the series. Though I may not be the biggest sci-fi fan, I can say wholeheartedly that this show is going to pack quite the punch. Whether it be the gorgeous cinematography, the exceptional CGI or the overall production design, “Lost In Space” has a lot of positive things going for it. Add in the stellar cast and exceptional storyline, you’ll be hard pressed to find a reason not to tune in when it premieres on Netflix April 13.
When the “Lost In Space” panel ended, I decided to stay for the next one which happened to be for “Fear the Walking Dead.” Full disclosure, I am not a huge fan of the show as I was only able to get through a few episodes before boredom took hold. Regardless I figured it would be beneficial to cover one of the few horror panels at hand at Wondercon. Well, let me just say, I am sure glad I stayed as it ended up being one of the funnest panels I’ve ever attended at any convention. Not only did the majority of the cast show up, but director/special FX/executive producer of “The Walking Dead”, Greg Nicotero was among the many who attended. The panel, which was moderated by the one and only Chris Hardwick, showed the immense chemistry that he has with the cast and creators as they would take jabs at each other throughout the duration of the panel. One of the biggest reveals within the last month or so was when it was announced that Morgan (played by Lennie James) would be crossing over from “The Walking Dead” to “Fear the Walking Dead”. Lennie was on hand to tell us a little bit about where his character would be going, but for the most part, all the actors, including some new faces in the series, were tight lipped. Regardless, this was still an excellent panel to attend that actually gave me the desire to give “Fear the Walking Dead” another chance… sometime… in the far future.
When the panel ended I took the rest of the day to walk around the showroom floor, speak with exhibitors, spend money I didn’t have, and photograph some of the amazing cosplay I saw. Though it may not seem like the day had a lot of activity to it, I assure you, it was non-stop. Thousand upon thousands of people attend this convention and there is so much to look at, experience, and attend, that it’s hard at times to take it all in. No matter your geekdom or fandom, there is something for everyone at Wondercon.
With that said, I do hope that at future Wondercon’s there will be a bigger horror presence. I have found, now having gone to Wondercon twice, that horror isn’t as apparent in this setting. The majority of people that attended, at least in regards to cosplay, aligned more towards the Disney/Marvel/Star Wars fandom. However, that didn’t mean horror was absent, it just meant that you had to do some digging to find it. Luckily for me, I was able to spot some brilliant cosplays of Bettlejuice and Lydia as well as a female Pennywise, and Frank the Bunny from DONNIE DARKO. I also found that by visiting artist alley there was a lot of horror art to choose from. I picked myself up a print of a Xenomorph Alien from illustrator Jon Sanchez as well as a TRICK ‘R TREAT inspired enamel pin from Waxwork Records and a mighty Cthulhu enamel pin from artist Rick Kitagawa.
All in all, my experience at Wondercon was pretty fucking amazing this year. As I gear up for my first trip to San Diego Comic Con this summer, I think Wondercon was the perfect jumping off point for me and I can see why these conventions are such a success. I hope in the years to come there will be an even wider horror audience that attends so that there becomes more of a presence for that genre. Regardless, I’ll still enjoy attending this convention each year especially since it embraces geek and fandom culture so well. In the end, Wondercon 2018 was a complete success and I look forward to seeing what 2019 will bring!