Category Archives: Conventions

WonderCon 2018

It’s been ten years since we first went to WonderCon, back when it was still in San Francisco. At the time I thought it would be fun to come back, but maybe not every year. As it turns out, we’ve kept going back yearly, only missing one! It’s effectively replaced SDCC for us, between the difficulty in getting tickets and hotels and just how overwhelming the event can be, especially for a kid.

WonderCon has been held in Anaheim since 2012 (except for one year in LA), and this year’s event ran Match 23-25. We mostly explored. None of us made it to any panels or signings, and the main floor has gotten big enough that it’s hard to see everything. There were costumes to wear, art to look at, toys to try out. The kiddo kept coming back to the fidget spinners and mystery boxes.

Cosplay

The kiddo wore his Minecraft Spider Jockey costume from Halloween. Katie repaired it and enhanced it, and it was a big hit. Everywhere we walked, we could catch people saying “Hey, Minecraft!” to each other. Lots of people wanted to take photos as well, though by mid-afternoon he was tired of it and declined a lot of them. I didn’t do anything complicated, though I did wear Steve’s outfit to go along with it.

Kid in a skeleton costume with a boxy head, wearing a cardboard-box spider as if the skeleton is riding it. And me dressed as Steve.

Katie brought back her Whitney Frost costume on Saturday. She got recognized a lot more this year than last. Did Agent Carter Season 2 hit Netflix between then and now? Has Madame Masque been more prominent in the comics? Then for Sunday she wore an alternate Kara Danvers (Supergirl) outfit that she’d intended to wear on the second day of Long Beach that we weren’t able to get to.

Purple dress, off-center 1940s hair, and a crack of darkness spidering its way down her face Office shirt, glasses, and ice cream

As for the general cosplay scene, there’s still a lot of DC, Marvel, Disney and Star Wars. And mash-ups. Lots of mash-ups. Samurai Spider-Man, Doctor Strange/r Things, Hogwarts of Westeros… Our full photo gallery is up on Flickr.

Hotel

After last year’s parking debacle (it took an hour to get from the convention center to the parking lot way out at Honda Center), and with a complex costume in mind, we decided to get a hotel this year. The cost was reasonable, especially compared to San Diego. Not only is WonderCon smaller than SDCC, but I suspect a larger percentage of attendees are local.

And let me tell you: it was worth it. We stayed at the Red Lion, right across Harbor. We were able to store the giant spider in the room, and take it to the con without dealing with a shuttle or walking for miles carrying the boxes. When J. got too tired to deal with the convention, I took him back to the hotel to hang out while Katie continued to explore. We could even put the kid to bed at something close to his usual bedtime!

Getting Around

Badges were mailed out ahead of time, but we still had to go to Registration on-site for the child badge (free with a paying adult, but you can’t pre-register kids). Fortunately, since we got there late in the afternoon on Friday, there was no line to speak of. And this time neither badge’s RFID state got messed up in the process!

They weren’t checking bags on the way in like Long Beach did last fall, just scanning badges and keeping an eye out like usual, so movement in and out of the con perimeter went smoothly. It was also cooler than we expected (and cooler than LBCC), which was good because of all the walking around, but a bit annoying because none of our costumes were really suited for jackets!

The yellow-sign judgmental religious protesters who’ve plagued these events for the last few years (the worst was probably the jerks harassing the line to get into LACC in 2016) never got closer than across the street as near as I could tell.

As far as food goes, I was kind of underwhelmed by the food trucks this year. The lines were just too long and the price too high for what you get. The convention center food was bland enough that J. actually refused to eat a hamburger. Oddly enough, IHOP has stepped up its game since I last went there.

Anyway, if you’re still reading this: thank you! I’m not sure who actually looks at personal con reports these days. I’m still writing them partly for completeness, partly to provide context for my photo gallery, and partly as something I can look back at for myself when I’m trying to remember, “hey, which year was it that X happened?”

Comic-Con Economy: What a Difference a Decade Makes

SDCC Blog reports that Comic-Con International is expected to be the San Diego Convention Center’s top economic generator of 2018, “with 130,000 attendees and an estimated $147.1 million in regional impact.”

That’s a far cry from 2008, when the con was derided as “decidedly low-rent” and generated “only” $41.5 million, half the impact of the top biotech conference for the year. The rest of the top events are still medical conferences, but the #2 event, a conference by the Society for Neuroscience, is estimated to bring in $88 million.

That said, SDCC still brings in fewer dollars per person than those medical conferences (130K attendees for Comic-Con, 30K for the neuroscience event). Fans saving up all year to go somewhere for fun can’t compete against professionals with expense accounts, after all.

But it’s nice to see Comic-Con recognized as a vital contributor to San Diego’s economy instead of an embarrassing side note.

Convention Inflation

Next year’s WonderCon tickets are available now, and SDCC goes on sale next week. I noticed something interesting about the WonderCon price, because ten years ago, I compared a lot of convention prices.

How do they stack up a decade later?

  • WonderCon 2018 costs the same as Comic-Con 2008 did: $75. (WonderCon in 2008 was $30 in advance, or $40 onsite.)
  • Comic-Con International has gone waaaay up. They don’t sell full-weekend badges anymore, but if you’re super-lucky you could theoretically buy one-day badges for all 4 1/2 days in 2018 (if you’re really lucky), in which case you’d be spending $45+$63×3+$42 = $276!
  • Wizard World shows in general have gone from $45 in 2008 to $80 for 2018.
  • Flagship Wizard World Chicago has gone from $50 in 2008 to $95 in 2018.

There are some other conventions that need to be on this list today, but weren’t on the 2008 list. Some of them are new, like C2E2. Emerald City and New York Comic Con were around, but hadn’t gotten big enough for me to include on a list that was mostly California conventions plus the big names – which at the time were SDCC and Chicago.

  • C2E2 2018 costs $76.
  • I can’t find the prices for New York Comic Con.
  • Emerald City Comicon 2018 costs $120 for the full event.
  • Long Beach Comic Con started out around the same price as a Wizard World show in 2009, and is currently $60, so a little cheaper than a Wizard World show.
  • Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con launched with super-cheap tickets at something like $11/day to get people to show up (before Stan Lee’s name was attached to it), but by 2016 it was in line with other shows at $35/day. (I can’t find any prices on their website anymore, so I don’t know the full weekend price.)

So over all: comic convention prices have roughly doubled over the last 10 years, except for SDCC, which shows what happens when the demand for tickets goes up and the supply stays static. They can’t add more badges, so raising the prices encourages people to buy tickets for fewer days, freeing up space for other people on those other days. It sucks for those of us who want to buy tickets, but it’s textbook Adam Smith.

But wait! I looked at other fan conventions at the time as well!

  1. GenCon 2017 cost $90 for pre-reg/$120 standard, up from $60/$75 in 2008
  2. DragonCon 2018 cost $105, up from $90 in 2008
  3. WorldCon 2018 (San Jose) has only gone up to $210, compared to $200 for Denver in 2008
  4. WesterCon 2018 (Denver) is $60, same as in 2008!
  5. Loscon 2018 is $35, again, same as in 2008

These have climbed a lot less. GenCon jumped 1.5x instead of 2x, and the more traditional sci-fi/fantasy cons have only increased a little bit, if at all.

It reminds me of a discussion at Chicon 7, the last WorldCon I attended in 2012, about the changing face of fandom. Fan culture has exploded in my lifetime, but traditional sci-fi/fantasy con attendance has stayed static. Fans are interacting online, or going to anime/comic conventions instead. And that lines up very neatly with the prices of the comic conventions vs. the more traditional cons.

In any case, it’s worth noting: WorldCon is now cheaper than SDCC. And you get to vote for the Hugos!

A Short Visit to Long Beach Comic-Con 2017

We finally got the whole family out to this year’s Long Beach Comic Con on Saturday! That was the plan last year, but Katie and J. both got sick.

Whitney Frost (2/2)

Katie brought her Whitney Frost cosplay and managed to find not only an Agent Carter, but another Whitney Frost!

Sumo BotsAt 6½, J. wanted to spend the whole afternoon at a LEGO club’s booth, though we also managed to do a round of laser tag and check out some of the robots and telescopes at the space exploration area. He was in a very hands-on mood all afternoon, which was OK in some booths, but not in others (like the demo of the automatic embroidering machines).

I didn’t get to do much exploring myself, but I figured I’d make up for it on Sunday.

The con was back at the front entrance and lobby this year, so Lobby Con was back as well. Artist’s Alley continues to be the biggest part of the main floor. Space Expo had some cool stuff, and I think the Cosplay Corner was bigger than last year, and of course there were the usual small press, fan groups, and lots of vendors.

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Family Trip to WonderCon 2017

For the first time ever, we attended three days of a comic-con with the whole family. Including cosplay! (Well, one of us did)

WonderCon was back in Anaheim this year, and it felt like a homecoming. The Anaheim Convention Center is just a better fit for the con than LA. The fountain area is a better gathering spot than the LA lobby. The programming rooms are much easier to get to. Plus the food’s better, even before you add the food trucks, and the plaza in front is a better place to put them. (Speaking of food, just about every place had at least a vegetarian option, and there was a whole truck dedicated to falafel.)

Casual Cosplay

Katie broke out her Whitney Frost (Agent Carter Season 2) outfit for a second con. Since it didn’t start until afternoon, and we needed to wait for school to let out, we had the whole morning to do the effects makeup. She had much better results this time around: Lots of people recognized her, and lots of people asked for her photo. She even ran into a couple of Peggy Carters. On Saturday she went with something more low-key: Kara Danvers (aka. Supergirl), complete with a coffee cup labeled “Kira.” That one was more subtle, but when she was standing next to a Supergirl, someone would catch on every time.

Kara Danvers Cosplay Whitney Frost Cosplay

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