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AutoMatters & More: WonderCon 2022 — A pop culture shopping paradise

WonderCon Anaheim program book
WonderCon Anaheim program book

(Jan Wagner)

The world, as we knew it before COVID-19, is more and more returning to normal with each passing month. For fans of pop culture, that means a return to the popular and well attended conventions presented by Comic-Con International.

First, in the latter part of 2021, there was “San Diego Comic-Con Special Edition” — a smaller-scale version of San Diego Comic-Con that successfully tested the waters for a return to live, in-person, pop culture conventions. You can read about that in AutoMatters & More 719, titled: “2021 San Diego Comic-Con Special Edition,” here: https://automatters.net/2021-san-diego-comic-con-special-edition/ Alternatively, you can just type the title or even just 719 (the column’s number) in the search bar on the home page of http://automatters.net.

With that convention’s success, the next logical step was the triumphant in-person return this year (face masks required) of WonderCon to the Anaheim Convention Center — for the first time since 2019, and for the ninth time that it has been held in Southern California, after moving here from the San Francisco Bay area.

Attendees posing for a WonderCon photo
Attendees posing for a WonderCon photo
(Jan Wagner)

WonderCon, like San Diego Comic-Con, is a place where people come to renew old friendships and make new ones. Attendees came from countries around the world, including Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Mexico, the Netherlands, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Sweden, the United Kingdom and, of course, here in the United States.

WonderCon fulfills a broad range of interests, including cosplay, gaming, programs and panels, anime, comic books, pop culture merchandise, artwork and much more, with many special guests.

Naturally there was a full, three-day schedule of panels, programs, games, the Saturday evening WonderCon Masquerade and more, including special presentations from CBS Studios, Discovery, Disney Television Studios, Disney +, Prime Video, Sony Pictures Television, Warner Bros. Television and Home Entertainment, Tubi and ABC Entertainment — as described in the event program book that was emblazoned with the image and in the style of Wonder Woman, by comics artist Jen Bartel (artwork that was originally slated for the cover of the book for the COVID-cancelled 2020 WonderCon). Best known for her work at DC, Marvel and Image, Jen won the 2019 Eisner Award for Best Cover Artist.

Browsing through the many comic books for sale
Browsing through the many comic books for sale
(Jan Wagner)

However, my focus for covering WonderCon this year was to see and experience much of what was in the massive exhibit halls. I spent my entire Sunday there.

In addition to the numerous and widely varied vendors and their merchandise, there were areas for the Artists’ Alley, Gold and Silver Age Comics, WonderCon photos, fan clubs, gaming tables, Small Press, signings and more. Comic book sales were brisk.

While I did not go to WonderCon with the intention of buying anything (I do not need any more stuff), nevertheless I did see something that I felt I just had to buy. I should have known better when I asked Sonia of “Nerdy Novelty Design” (one of the many friendly vendors) if she had any Muppets oven mitts? I mean, what are the odds that they would have THOSE? Well, sure enough, she did have Muppets oven mitts, and she even offered me a discount if I bought two instead of one — so of course I did. They are REALLY COOL — so cool that I do not want to get them soiled, burned, etc. — all the things that happen to oven mitts over time, so I leaned them against my kitchen counter backsplash and there they sit, to enjoy every day.

My new Muppets oven mitts
My new Muppets oven mitts
(Jan Wagner)

Elsewhere I watched, with sheer delight, as one of the many talented artists in attendance sketched one of my favorite animated characters — a Minion. Steve was there doing caricatures, and representing The National Cartoonists Society and NCSFEST International Comic Arts Festival (ncsfest.com).

Throughout, attendees were dressed in the costumes of their favorite characters. Photographers had no lack of entertaining subjects to shoot, and places to shoot them — including cosplay at the Anaheim Convention Center’s iconic outdoor fountain.

Illustration of a Minion by Steve
Illustration of a Minion by Steve
(Jan Wagner)

Make plans to attend WonderCon 2023 from March 24-26, in Anaheim. To learn more, visit: www.comic-con.org. Here you will also find information about the return of the full-scale 2022 San Diego Comic-Con, which will be held in-person from July 21-24, plus Preview Night on July 20.

To see the most photos and the latest text, and to explore a wide variety of content dating back to 2002, visit AutoMatters & More at AutoMatters.net. On the Home Page, search by title or topic, or click on the blue ‘years’ boxes.

Copyright © 2022 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #742


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