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Wondercon 2011: Three Days of Blissful Insanity

A column article, Comics Bulletin Soapbox by: Jason Sacks
Oh Wondercon, how I love you.

This year was the fourth straight year that I've headed down to Wondercon, and the convention never disappoints. For me, Wondercon strikes the perfect balance between size and energy. There are tons of interesting guests and panelists, and the convention always brings a great mix of young and old creators. At the same time, the con never feels quite as overwhelming as San Diego Comicon does.

Oh sure, I love San Diego and had an amazing time there on my first visit last year, but Wondercon is different. It's just the right size. Well, aside from that Saturday crush – but I'll get to that in a bit.

Let me say up front that conventions for me aren't exactly the same as conventions for other people. I'm not into the cosplay world, and don't usually go around getting autographs (though unfortunately I missed getting the one autograph I wanted to get, dagnab it). For me, as EIC of this here site, a convention is all about work. But it's not exactly like working a coalmine!

I'm constantly scrambling to gather good material for this site. Dear reader, it's all about you and our zeal to make Comics Bulletin the most diverse, compelling and interesting site it possibly can be for you. That means bringing you thoughtful interviews, interesting reviews, compelling articles, fascinating looks at insiders in the industry... you know, all the stuff that hopefully makes you want to come back to the site day after day to see what all of our great writers have created for you.

Wondercon 2011 presented a bumper crop of interviews for us. Over the next few weeks you can look forward to reading conversations with creators as diverse as Shannon Wheeler (discussing his fascinating sounding new book Oil and Water), Geoff Johns (on the Green Lantern animated DVD), the fascinating Christos Gage and the amazingly talented Jim Mahfood.

Oh, and I can't forget maybe my favorite comic creator interview. For anyone who grew up, like me, reading Marvels in the 1970s and 1980s, it was almost impossible to miss work done by the incredibly talented Kerry Gammill. It was exciting and fun to get to sit down with Kerry and discuss his work on the fan-dream-come-true Monsterverse comics, and to have a great chat about his days working on such legendary titles as Marvel Team-Up and Power Man/Iron Fist. Kerry was a totally nice, fun and entertaining guy. I love it when you interview someone and they end up becoming friends. That's exactly what happened with Kerry. Getting to have an experience like that is the highlight of any convention for me.

But I also did more interviews that I think you'll enjoy. You may have noticed that we tend to review Archaia Press books a lot on our site. There's a good reason for that: their comics are gorgeously produced, entertaining and thoroughly unique. I had a great time sitting down with their EIC for a company-spanning interview that has me thoroughly geeked for future titles from them.

Who would have expected Ziggy Marley to appear at a comic convention? But Ziggy has a new graphic novel coming out from Image, to be released on April 20th, appropriately enough, and that GN is illustrated by the amazingly talented Jim Mahfood. It probably won't surprise you that the GN is called Marijuanaman, but it might surprise you that the GN is surprisingly terrific. Well, Mahfood illustrated the book, so maybe it's not a surprise. We have interviews with both Mahfood and Marley coming up really soon on the site.

I loved getting to hang out with the great comic writer and packager Dave Elliott at the con, discussing the upcoming Benaroya Comics line. Listen: you owe it to yourself to look up back issues of his great old anthology series A1 which has great comics material from literally some of the greatest names in comics.

Then there are the interviews with media folks. Maybe you've heard of a little thing called Green Lantern? We spoke to people who worked on the upcoming animated DVD. Heard of an actor named Mark Sheppard, who played Romo on Battlestar Galactica? Mark had some tantalizing hints about the upcoming season of Doctor Who. How about Christian Slater? Ever wonder what Slater's favorite role was of his entire career? We'll have that here too!

I also had a great time making or checking in with our press contacts, including the wonderful people at Image, Oni, Archaia, BOOM!, and I'd better stop now lest a publisher get angry with us. Maybe most exciting on that front is the contact I made with Hermes Press, who publish a wide range of wonderful archival comic reprints and other, similar work. It was great to talk with Dan of Hermes Press about our mutual love for classic comics. I gotta say, I've been absolutely thrilled with how much I've enjoyed reading the reprints of Buck Rogers in the Twenty Fifth Century that Dan gave me, and I can't wait to see what my reviewers think of the other books we received.

Oh, did I mention that we had a whole team of folks wandering the floors, making friends and doing their own work for the site? I love my staff, and I always love the work they do for CB! Many thanks to Karyn, Diana, Felicity, Dawn, Robert, Charles, Laura and Chris for all they did at the con and do every day for CB! You can look forward to their work being posted to the site too.

Then there were the dinners, and the parties, and the "what happens in Vegas" sorts of events that always make a convention special. Hit me up on Facebook if you want to hear or see some embarrassing stories!

The only bummer in the weekend was the insane crush of crowds at the convention center on convention Saturday. The room was packed! What recession?! There certainly wasn't a recession at the Moscone Center that day, as it took forever to get around the floor. But I seldom saw an unhappy face – people were way too busy having fun to complain about a bit of a crowd!

Wondercon was one of the most densely-packed three days of my life. It was amazingly fun and amazingly exhausting. The only thing more dense, fun and exhausting is the mothership, Comicon. I my staff and I get to repeat this experience in San Diego!

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