Well, it’s all over. Three days of Wondercon behind us and we had a great time. Yesterday, the religious lunatics that I wrote about on the first day were gone, but today, they were back, although in smaller numbers. Oh well, I thought, at least there are only two of them instead of a dozen, but when I went outside, we had Deadpool Jesus and his “Happy Zombie Jesus Day” sign standing right next to the religious nutters. It was hysterical. Deadpool was carrying an Easter basket and giving away little bottles of bubbles and the whole area was covered with bubbles for a while. In fact, I noticed a good deal of sacrilegious cosplay today, there were a couple of people dressed as Jesus. One guy was disco Jesus with a big afro and sparkly glasses. I saw at least two Buddy Christ’s, I thought it would have been funny to get them outside with the faith crazies, but, at least while I was out there, it didn’t happen. Again, pretty much everyone just ignored the nutballs, which is a good thing.
Today, I finally got to get into the convention floor for a while and my suspicions from the first day were confirmed. It just wasn’t that big. I could walk the entire convention floor and look at any dealers I was interested in, which frankly wasn’t a lot, in about an hour. Comicon, even on the days with the lightest crowds, took 5-6 hours to do a sweep. Now granted, some of that was my fault, so much of what they had at the convention, I wasn’t interested in. Since I don’t really collect action figures anymore, I initially didn’t look at those booths, although in the end, I did buy two things that filled holes in my existing collection, just because it was a good price. But let’s talk about prices. By and large, they sucked. There were cases where someone had something I needed, but not at the price they were charging. Plus, I’ve got a real serious bugaboo about vendors who do not price their merchandise so you have to go ask what everything costs. Put a tag on it so we know what it costs, not your “I’ll make some shit up on the spot” pricing. There were some figures that I would have bought, that at retail within the past 6 months went for $8.99 each. I’d have paid $10. I might have paid $15 if I really wanted it. No price tags. I asked and the guy wouldn’t commit to a price, he said “oh, I can probably sell them to you for between $20 and $30…” No, for that price, I’ll tell you what you can do with them. And this is Sunday, the day everyone is making deals so they don’t have to drag all this crap home with them! While I did pick up a couple of things here and there, I didn’t come anywhere remotely close to my “budget” for the con. I can come home, hop online and buy it for 1/2 the price, including shipping. Heck, there are figures they were selling for $20 each that I could literally walk out of the convention center, drive a couple of blocks to Walmart, and buy off the pegs for $5.88. That was really, really disappointing.
You want to know what else was disappointing? We went to a panel this morning for Boom Comics. My wife is a reviewer of children’s books and comics and this was supposed to be their “all ages” panel discussion. We showed up, the people who were giving the panel didn’t. No, I don’t mean they were late, I mean they just never showed up. Never called. Never let anyone know they weren’t coming. Nothing. There were a couple of people who worked at Boom who just happened to be in the room and they jumped up and held an impromptu Q&A session to entertain the crowd so it wasn’t a complete loss, but this was supposed to be a panel where they were doing major announcements for popular new properties and… nothing.
Hopefully those people don’t have jobs on Monday.
Afterwards, we hung around outside and talked to people and the rumors, entirely unconfirmed at this time, are that Wondercon Anaheim has been so tremendously successful, even more so than the 27 years they’ve done it in San Francisco, that even if they do move the con back up north, they will keep Wondercon Anaheim as a permanent convention. I really hope that they do. Last year I gave a list of things they should do better this year and, while I think they made some traction on the list, they didn’t accomplish all of them by any means so let’s look at what they did and did not improve.
1. Lack of signing. While they did improve (except for parking signage on the first day), it isn’t enough. They really need to work on their signage so people know where to go and what to do. Even more important though:
2. Organization. They have none. Or at least, they haven’t passed on their organization to the rent-a-cop security types that they have keeping order. The security team just does whatever the hell they want because nobody has told them different, they just randomly reorganize lines, then move them back… someone needs to tell these idiots what to do because clearly, they don’t know.
3. Busses weren’t an issue this year, but they need to work out parking. They have six separate lots at the convention center, plus they had two overflow lots. They didn’t seem to have much of a plan how to tell people what lots to park in and honestly, some of the lots were really far away from the convention center. Either get them all close or find a big lot they can use somewhere (stadium parking worked fine last year), have the majority of people park there and bus them in.
4. It could still be bigger and significantly so. Clearly, it is growing and successful, so why do they leave some portions of the floor space they are paying for unused? They could have put in another 50 dealers if they had just used all of the halls they had available. Now who knows, maybe nobody else wanted to come, but if that was the case, they should have made all the aisles wider to avoid the convention crushes. It made no sense to have 10% of the space in one hall completely empty, no carpet, no nothing.
5. Stuff is still missing. They have added a couple of things that I complained about last year, but they weren’t done well. They did have a con suite of sorts, but when we tried to go there on Friday, we were told it doesn’t open until 7pm. What’s the point of only opening the con suite when the convention is closed? They did have an anime room this year, they did have an open gaming area this year and while they didn’t have an actual art show, I suppose that kind of thing just doesn’t matter anymore.
6. I don’t think it’s too short anymore. Now granted, I’m getting older and that might have a lot to do with it, but by the end of every day, I was in agony, I could hardly walk, hell, I could hardly move. Then, I had to get up the next morning and do it all over again. When I was young, I used to go to a 4-day con and just stay up for 4 days straight, no problem. Now, 3-days just about kills me. I seriously gave consideration to not going back today, although I’m glad I did.
Farewell Wondercon, come on back next year, maybe take a couple of suggestions to heart and you can be sure I’ll be there again.