Top 10 Things That Will Kick Ass At Wondercon 2010

Let your geek flag fly.

Being the resident comic book nerd here at GR comes with great power and great responsibilities. One of them is being the de facto go-to guy for all things related to the world of linear art. And of course, I get the good fortune of being sent to comic conventions as part of my journalistic duties. It's not like I wouldn't be going to them anyway. Might as well make a couple of bucks and get some behind-the-scenes looks at upcoming games, movies, and comics while I'm at it. I've gotten to be quite good at navigating the show floors and weeding out the must-have, must-see events from the over-hyped, waste-of-my-time jokes.

WonderCon, San Francisco's very own "ComicCon Jr.", is just around the corner, running April 2nd-4th at the Moscone Center. It's like what GDC is to E3, the big warm-up before the show, a pre-season exhibition game if you will. But there's still a lot to see and a lot to look out well, which is why I now pass along my cornucopia of wisdom and experience in the form of…. The Top 10 Things That Kick Ass at WonderCon.

10. The Cosplayers

Sure there's plenty of 30-something, still-living-at-home man-boys walking around in crappy homemade Spider-Man costumes made from their mom's old ski equipment. And who could forget the big fat man dressed up as Faye Valentine who seems to grace every Con on the planet with his presence? But they're not who you should be looking at anyways. There are a lot of folks who go to great lengths to have the perfect costume. Last year I saw a guy dressed up as the new Transformers Bumblebee and was surprised to learn he was actually a human. Of course, that would've been nice to know before I dismantled him. And then there are all the hot geeky chicks who use it as an excuse to dress even more scandalously than they would on halloween. Oh Baroness, how you taunt me with your vinyl pants.

9. The Panels

You have to be very selective about which panels you attend. Yes, I'm sure the one on Gay Transgender Elves in Modern Storytelling is dealing with a major issue in today's modern comic book industry, but that doesn't mean you should bore yourself to death with an hour and a half long discussion of its finer points. But if you know what to look for, they can be a blast. Last year at ComicCon, the Futurama panel featured Matt Groening and they gave out prizes for the best questions. John Favreau showed off exclusive footage of Iron Man and revealed his plans for the then only hypothectical sequels two years ago at WonderCon. And don't forget to show up early to get into the larger, more popular ones, folks line up outside like they were waiting to buy Apple's latest iProduct for these things.

8. Artist's Alley

Wanna meet and greet with stars of tomorrow? Or maybe you feel like paying $20 to get a picture of yourself choking Lou Ferrigno. It really doesn't matter what your kink is, it's bound to be satiated in Artist's Alley. Everyone can be found down here, from the prolific Sergio Aragones of Groo and Mad Magazine fame, to the lesser known indie artist pioneering the medium for the next generation like Jim Mahfood. You can have them critique your portfolio, ask them to draw something for you, or just buy their merchandise. This is also where the one-hit-wonders of the pop culture industry go to die. Retired wrestlers and faded starlets that your grandpa probably whacked off to can all be found here making the circuit and waiting for the cold embrace of death and one last moment of cultural relevance. So be sure to get an autograph so you have something to sell on Ebay when they finally do kick the bucket!

7. Collectables

No matter what niche of nerdom you happen to fall under, you can rest assured that there is some sort of Con-exclusive bust, figurine, chase-variant, or commemorative plate for sale. So far, my personal favorite has to be the complete Futurama collection that came in a Bender head case, but that's just me. Be forewarned, this stuff is usually not cheap, so you may want to prioritize what you feel is going to look best on that mantle in your mother's basement…. that you still live in.

6. Comic Books

Let us never forget why we're all here in the first place. If you've scavenged through all your local shops and given up on finding a decent deal online, Cons can be the lucky break you so desperately have been waiting for. Tons of vendors, some from all over the world depending on the size of your local event, show up for these things and bring a ton of backstock, overstock, and new stock with them. Attendees with enough time and patients can come away with a decent treasure trove or at the very least mark a few things off their checklist here and there.

5. Camaraderie

Everyone here is a big nerd. No, I take that back. Everyone here is a painfully spastic fanboy drooling over plush Borg ships and factory mis-colored pikachus… and it's great. Much like swingers clubs, there are very few taboos and no one is going to make you feel ashamed for your festish. Whatever the deepest desire of your inner geek, it's okay to revel and embellish it. Let your nerd flag fly high and expect encouragement from your fellow conventioneers.

4. Freebies

Everyone loves free stuff. 'Nuff said. Last year I spent maybe $15 total on the floor and came away with two heavy bags of stuff I neither needed nor ever used. But it pays off for you guys, since most of the time I bring it into work to use as giveaways. Free comics, shirts, glow-in-the-dark dealymabobs, postcards, pens, green lantern rings, and Wonder woman tiaras can all be yours if you're willing to face the hordes of fans all clamoring for schwag. Just be sure they don't tear your arm off when you reach for it.

3. Video Games

More and more each year, game companies are starting to get that WonderCon and its siblings are a great place to give consumers a first look at their products and to open up a floor for dialogue. Street Fighter IV and MK vs. DC both held panels in past years where they've announced new characters and levels. Capcom even sold their elusive Mega Man 9 NES cartridge press kits at last year's Cons. This year should be no different with more new games being announced, but I'm not allowed to talk about those until after the convention. NDAs and whatnot.

2. I Won't Be The Fattest Person There

Hey, I can admit it. I'm not in the greatest shape of my life. But some of these guys make me look like a toned bodybuilder. Most shirts come in sizes well beyond XXL, and nacho cheese flows over the chips like a river. It's a rare occasion where I get to be one of the skinny people, so I'll take it any way I can get it.

1. Interviews

So far I've met Grant Morrison, Stan Lee, Ben Templesmith, Darwyn Cooke, the cast of MST3K, and the voice behind TV's Grimlock working these things, and it's always awesome to meet folks whose work you appreciate. This year the only interviews I've lined up so far are with the folks behind Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Archer, and Squidbillies, but who knows? Kevin Smith is talking this year, and the way I see it, he owes me. You try being a fat kid with a beard and trench coat constantly getting called “Silent Bob” and you'll know my pain. You'll just have to come back after WonderCon to find out who I actually meet this year.

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