written by Jessica Edwards (@jesrenward)
It’s been a little over a month since I attended Wondercon Anaheim 2015, so I have had plenty of time to reflect on my time spent there. This was my first year attending Wondercon, and I honestly don’t know why I didn’t attend sooner! The venue was beautiful, the staff ran it smoothly, and the attendees that I had the pleasure of interacting with were courteous and respectful of my space, both in and out of cosplay.
Upon arriving at the Anaheim Convention Center on the first day of the convention, I was struck by how lovely the landscaping and the building itself was. The location was prime- right across from Disneyland! There were food trucks lined up the walkway leading the the convention center, offering an abundance of delicious treats to please any palate if you were willing to pay the price! There were three fountains- a smaller one near the food trucks, a larger one in front of the convention center entrance, as well as another around the back of the building, by the stadium, all of which were usually being used for cosplay shoots when I passed them.
That’s one of the coolest things about Wondercon- they have a wide variety of places for cosplayers to get really nice photos. Aside from the fountains, there was also a large partially shaded area filled with palm trees and other flora set aside specifically for photo shoots. There are numerous open clearings and paths throughout, so you don’t have to drag your outfit through any rough terrain if that’s something you’re concerned about. I thought this was a very nice gesture to attendees both in and out of cosplay- cosplayers don’t have to fight crowds to get a clear shot in, and attendees hypothetically wouldn’t have to dodge out of the way if someone was trying to get a nice shot of a cosplay.
I do say hypothetically, however, because for all the space set aside for cosplay shooting, the outside of the entrance doors was pretty much completely bogged down the entire convention. Even as a cosplayer myself, I did find myself frustrated from time to time that I could not enter or leave the building without having to weave and dodge out of the way of a bunch of photographs, as cosplayers and photographers milled about in the area in a large mass that was at times very difficult to navigate through. That aside, I do admit that I spent a lot of time there giddily looking at fellow cosplayers (so much talent all in one place!) and grabbing a bunch of pictures. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!
I cosplayed on the first day of Wondercon, and had a great time. I was doing Sucy from Little Witch Academia, and I wasn’t expecting to get recognized much as a supporting character from an anime at a comic convention. I was pleasantly surprised to find that many people did recognize me and not only wanted to take a picture but also stopped to chat with me about the show as well. I cannot stress enough how friendly I found the SoCal crowd of attendees and cosplayers at this convention to be!
As I was in a kind of uncomfortable cosplay the first day (do not get me started on my giant hat and tight wig!), most of my time was spent wandering around the dealer’s hall sort of haphazardly. My first order of business was something I know many others were very excited about- I hit the Monster Hunter caravan! It was surprisingly tough for me to find being a newbie- the dealer’s hall at this convention was unexpectedly enormous! It was hard not to get distracted from my mission by all of the interesting wares being sold at tables (a lot of which I picked up later…). When I did finally find my way to the caravan, it was really hard to contain myself. I had a couple of other friends with me, none of whom play Monster Hunter, and they had to deal with me talking a mile a minute about how cool it was. “It looks like the caravan in the game! Look at all the tents! The poufs! They have Monster Hunter set up so you can play! Do you want to play?! Excuse me, let me unfurl my huge list of things I have to pick up for myself and others, I’ll catch up with you guys later!” I’ll admit, I was having a huge fangirl moment. I ended up walking away with way too much merch and hanging out in that area way too long.
Artists Alley was also a huge attraction for me- there were so many amazing artists and art that it was easy to get lost in it all for hours. Babs Tarr (of Batgirl fame) even had a booth right in front, with a large crowd of people in front of it, of course. It was really cool to see a lot of my favorite artists’ work up close and personal and get the chance to take some of it home with me. The fact that it was easy to find, as well as distanced a little bit from the vendors, were huge pluses for me. Every area (except for small press- what gives?) was very clearly marked so it was easy to find where you were going.
Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances and just general unpreparedness on my part, I did not get too many events or panels. Only two, in fact, but I was very pleased with both.
The first was the BOOM! Studios panel “From Page to Screen”, which was highly informative. BOOM! CEO Ross Richie moved the panel along with blatant honesty about getting into the scene as well as his personal brand of dry wit which was pretty amusing. The way that BOOM! treats its creators is admirable- they are partners in everything they do and respect their creators, which can be a rarity in the business world, especially when dealing with art.
The final event I was able to attend before having to be at the airport at 6am on Sunday was the masquerade. My group of friends and I were very excited for the opportunity to see all of the wonderful cosplay and entertaining sketches. When the show started, it became very apparent that I was out of the loop at this annual event, as when each new person/group was announced, the crowd began to yell something incoherent in unison. As the number of entrants escalated, so did the shouts of the crowd. While confusing for a newcomer, it was also very entertaining and really amped up the audience as the night went on. The host was very gracious in humoring us and keeping the show moving at a steady pace. I was surprised at the amount of children who had entered the masquerade- it added a huge helping of adorable that I was unprepared for! All in all, a very great time with some very skilled cosplayers with amazing stage presence!
For all of the times in between these events, I spent all of it with my friends I had come down to visit. While I may not have been able to enjoy Wondercon events in their entirety, I did get a chance to meet a slew of wonderful new friends and spend time with many old ones I hadn’t seen in a while. And really, we all know that’s what conventions are really about- gathering and enjoying your fandoms with other great people- whether they be friends, family, or both!
Unfortunately, in my opinion, Wondercon 2016 is slated to leave Anaheim and relocate in Los Angeles. It’s definitely disappointing that this was my first and last year at such a lovely convention venue, but one can only hope that its new location will bring new and pleasant adventures for the convention itself, as well as those attending. In the meantime, pictures from this year can be found both on our Facebook page as well as here on the site, so feel free to see if you can spot yourself! Happy hunting, and see you next year, Wondercon!