The 26th annual WonderCon made its debut at the Anaheim Convention Center this past weekend. Nothing seemed out of place: Star Wars storm troopers, hairy monsters, fairies, superheroes and nerds.
Due to repairs at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, the organizers moved the popular arts event to Southern California.
Hollywood made a splash in Anaheim throughout the three-day convention. Warner Brothers Television and Animation offered attendees several panels, autograph signings and screenings of “Alcatraz”, “DC Nation”, “Fringe” and “Person of Interest”.
The cast and crew from Cartoon Network’s “Adventure Time” delighted both children and parents. Andy Ristaino works full time with “Adventure Time” as lead designer.
“I do character, prop and effects design,” Ristaino said. “It’s fun, but it’s still work. If I’m not doing my own stuff on the side, I get kind of depressed. I still need that creative outlet for my own thoughts.”
For music lovers, composers Jeremy Zuckerman and Benjamin Wynn talked about their projects.
“Right after Cal Arts, I got a job to do sound design for a Michael-Jackson video. It was weird,” Zuckerman said. “We worked 21 hours straight, and then we got fired. I love this business.”
Wynn and Zuckerman wrote the music for “The Last Airbender: The Legend of Korra,” which is a spinoff of “Avatar: The Last Airbender”.
Wynn added, “I began working for Music House and did a lot of different things for them. … Then ‘Avatar’ came up. We dove into it and 10 years later we’re still doing it.”
Besides watching movies, popular geeky TV shows and sitting at panels, people went to the exhibit hall to purchase their favorite items or meet people from the industry.
Authors Mike Lynch, of San Jose, and Highland’s Brandon Barr were in the small press section.
“We are having fun meeting lots of interesting people and selling books,” Lynch said. “Two of our books are popular such as ‘When The Sky Fell’ and ‘After The Cross’. They are more in line with the fantasy and comic book people that are here.”
Gilroy’s Chris Perguidi and San Jose’s Allan Angel, of Integrity Comics, came to test new ground.
“I like seeing the artists like Scott Shaw and the other guys in Artist Alley,” Perguidi said. “It’s an enjoyable show, but it was better in San Francisco.”
Paul Dale from Torrence set up his anime caricature business in Artist Alley.
“I do more of a performance than just draw – like a comedy act when I work directly with people,” Dale said. “It’s a fun way to do artwork in which you’re drawing people’s portraits.”
Scott Shaw is a successful cartoonist with four Emmy Awards for his work on Jim Henson’s “Muppet Babies”.
“Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to be either a cartoonist or a paleontologist,” Shaw said. “A teacher in junior high told me I would not likely work in a museum but for a petroleum company. So much for that, I’m going to be a cartoonist.”
Keith Knight, creator of “The Knight Life” comics, sold his book “Chivalry Ain’t Dead” plus other titles at the show, but said he misses the Bay Area.
“I urge people to let Moscone Center know that we want WonderCon back in San Francisco,” he said
The legendary Stan Lee, creator of Spider Man, showed up Saturday to sign autographs, where roughly 300 people met him. Lee spoke to each fan despite the hefty bodyguard bellowing orders at people nearby.
Next door was renowned animator and director Ralph Bakshi and his son, Eddie, selling his iconic movies: “Lord of the Rings”, “Fritz The Cat”, “Fire and Ice”, “Wizards”, “American Pop” and “Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures”.
Bakshi came to Anaheim to celebrate the 35-year anniversary of his unprecedented fantasy “Wizards”.
“We had a really good time,” Eddie Bakshi said. “We sold out of ‘Wizards’ Blu-rays, which is premiering here, and fan enthusiasm has been great.”