If it can be imagined, it can come to life, and what better place to hold an expo where fantasy and fiction come alive, but in the city of Walt Disney’s dreams: Anaheim, California. Across the street from the Magic Kingdom, in the convention center on Harbor Blvd., was my first comic book/sci-fi convention, and though I was told this is a small operation compared to Comic-Con down in San Diego, it eased me into a world where Super Mario’s walk the rows of collections with Captain America’s and Imperial Stromtroopers. I am happy I charged my iPhone to full bars because the pictures I snapped off showed the interesting people I met and the extravagant costumes they wore and made.
The morning started when my ride and secret pass to the inside came and snatched my body in his hybrid auto. Traffic on the freeways was normal for a mid-Friday morning drive for SoCal locals such as us, but the bitching and complaining could be heard through the murmuring crowd which patiently stood in long lines while waiting for the doors to open up so the shenanigans could begin.
Once inside, I went to the one panel discussion group I truly wanted to see about Battlestar Galactica for I was a fan in the late '70s when the original series aired and became a major fan as the new series blew up our TVs in 2003. While in line one meets up with other fans and we started talking about the latest miniseries, Blood & Chrome, and other spin-offs such as Caprica and the webisodes.
The discussion panel led by Richard Hatch went well and though we learned nothing new, it was interesting, but what I was waiting for was when the audience members stepped up to the mike. I didn’t hear anything out of the ordinary that most curious fans would ask, though I was told some questions asked could go beyond the bizarre, but I am proud to say that BSG fans aren’t full of dumb questions. After learning there was nothing new concerning BSG, I decided to start up the rest of my tour a little earlier so I jumped ship from the panel room and made my way down to the main gallery.
I can’t say that I wasn’t expecting to get an eye full of people in costumes, who, from what I am to understand by watching the lamestream media says most of these people as crazy, weird, or just plain nerds, but I must contest (funny, I usually plead no-contest). These are some of the nicest, kindest and creative people around.
The day's adventure actually started in line where I met a Rapunzel Jedi Master and a character called Candlehead from Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph. Behind us were some mercenaries (slang; Merks) fully armed and ready for action. Crazy even to carry fake weapons around here; don’t these folks know they are in Anaheim where cops shoot people then claim it was a suicide. Probably not because the next dude I ran into was strapped with a flamethrower, suited up and itching to burn something.
All these costumes were put together not in some half-ass, "just throwing stuff on" way, no. These folks really put some time in along with a lot of thought and care, and I’m sure a good amount of money to boot, and though there were many of the same character, they were all just that much different to stand out from others like them in the crowd—and what a crowd it was.
Once I entered the main hall, the sights, sounds, and some smells hit me like a ton of bricks and my mind went into sensory overload. Luckily this girl dressed as a sexy Han Solo brought into focus and from there I put my notepad away, popped out my phone, hit the camera button, and was off chasing my ideas of sweet costumes and cool characters. I ran into some the Ghostbusters, crew and they were ready to catch some spirits with their Ecto-backpacks all charged up and looking for some spooks (not CIA kind).
From there I encountered superheroes ranging from the DC to the Marvel and beyond, there were also a lot of video game characters moving about as well, such as these rough yet sexy women who, to me, looked like characters from Street Fighter, along with their cute red-headed Mario girl suited up and ready to battle Kong and jump some barrels. I found myself meandering about in no particular direction. II would see a cool character and try and make my way through the sea of people just to get a picture. At times I felt like a salmon swimming upstream as I scrambled from row to row trying to capture a cool shot, as if I was the Ansell Adams of WonderCon.
The first area I considered to be ultra-packed was the one where most of the comic books were being sold and traded. The tables were stocked to the hilt with comics from all over, and comic characters were lining the aisles, being checked out by folks like me as they themselves checked out others. It must be aggravating trying to move from one side of the room to the other, while having to stop every three feet and pose for someone or somebody's photo shoot.
When I took this shot of this Riddler and his two sexy friends, he was in the middle of what seemed to be a deep conversation with an artist, and though he was a little upset to have to stop and have his picture taken, when I complimented him on his attire he was very kind and grateful for being noticed. From that point, I figured I wasn’t going to interrupt anyone if they were in the middle of something, but I would patiently wait and if possible get a snap, at times while they were already posing for someone else. By doing this, I missed some pictures but got others such as this beautiful lady in red with her daggers of death, or the woman who was dressed in skulls and bones and covered her face with a mask of bones.
I ran into two women who seemed to be dressed in what looked like Punisher outfits; they had no problems striking a pose for me, nor did this guy who was wrapped in bandages and sported a Fedora hat and cigar with his lovely masked assistant who had baked some goodies with TNT and a smile. When asking if I could get a snapshot, not one person told me to kick rocks or get lost. On the contrary, they struck a pose and asked me if that was okay.
There were many Stormtroopers about along with other Star Wars personas, but the best table I discovered was the one where this club builds R2 units, and these droids work—to an extent. I didn’t find out what activates these fully working R2 units could do or what services they provided but just having one around, I think would be a hoot and I’m sure my neighbors would get a kick out of it too, though their cat may not be too keen on it.
Getting to the midpoint of my adventure I met up with my buddy Gordon and my other friend who caught up with us there, Lorna. We all ate at one of those famous food trucks, which I used to call roach coaches, but are now considered to be a cuisine of fine traveling foods. If you ask me nine dollars for a crappy burger from a restaurant on wheels isn’t worth it, I found this out much later in the night as I kept running to the bathroom every few minutes. The sun started to go down and even more people began to arrive. While outside I saw a Transformer, a sexy Captain America with a killer rabbit, and a beautiful blond with this yellow letter T on her shirt.
From there, I followed my friends back to the main hall where I had spent much of my time but didn’t seem to cover even one fourth of the hall. Both let me know that compared to Comic-Con in SD, that this was not as big, but since they have been coming, WonderCon has gotten bigger. We walked around while checking out cool collectibles, sweatshirts, t-shirts and other oddities which attracted our wandering eyes. Here, I found another Captain America along with Dick Tracy.
After wandering about the main hall and other adjacent rooms—some containing gaming areas for those who play games such as Magic the Gathering or HeroClix we made our way into the Areana, which was going to air a new Superman cartoon called Superman Unbound—didn’t know he was into the kinky stuff, but so goes mild-mannered Clark Kent, or at least I thought. After the film, there was another discussion panel of which we didn’t stick around; most of the questions people had were so far out there that even the folks on the panel didn’t know how to answer them.
As the night closed, and my friends and I headed out to our cars, I gained a new admiration and respect for everyone who likes to shut out reality for a bit and delve into the finer arts of fantasy. And why not? We live in a world where we could use some superheroes and action stars these days. With all the mud being slung about and the country, if not the world, so divided on different issues, it’s nice to see some people just being who they wish they could be, or who they idolize. Some may call them names and say they are freaks and nerds, but they aren’t. They are normal people trying to find happiness in a world full of crap, and if getting dressed up an making believe they are a superhero for a day allows them to find that, I say more power to them—even if they are a Power Ranger.