With all that said and done, I have to admit that the L.A. Convention Center acquitted itself fairly well in hosting the 2016 WonderCon. It no doubt helps that the folks at Comic-Con International—which also puts on the San Diego Comic-Con—was running the show and, no doubt, the L.A. Convention Center wanted to impress the organizers. But as an exhibitor, I have to say I found the experience positive (well, nearly).
I set up my booth on Thursday, March 24, the date before the start of the show. And though I wasn’t very familiar with the convention center, by sheer luck, I parked in the perfect location at the convention center parking lot, as close as I could have hoped for to my booth. One of the few hiccups was the runaround I received trying to find out where the exhibitors’ registration was located—I ended up being sent from one hall to another before discovering it was where I initially started.
All in all, the atmosphere felt more relaxed and unfrenzied, compared to setting up for the San Diego Comic-Con.
The show itself had a very San Diego Comic-Con vibe—helped, no doubt, by the fact that the same people who put on that show run WonderCon, meaning that a lot of the signage and atmosphere were famiiar. The hall in Anaheim where WonderCon has been held in recent years has a weird floorplan that divides the floor in an odd way. In contrast, the L.A. Convention Center’s South Exhibition Hall, where the exhibitors were located, allowed for one big, open continuous floorplan, much like the San Diego show, though probably only about a third of the size.
I have to admit that food selection is also important to me—as an exhibitor, I am at the convention hall all day and mealtime is one of the few times I get to take a break and decompress, so I like to enjoy my meal. The poor quality and selection of the food services at the San Diego Convention Center is fairly well known, requiring a bit of a trek to a neighboring hotel or walk into the Gaslamp District for reasonable alternatives. In contrast, the L.A. Convention Center’s food was a bit better quality; food trucks were also made available by the West Exhibition Hall.
As to my experience as an exhibitor? Since the prices were a little lower than at the San Diego Comic-Con, I opted to get a regular booth rather than a place in the small press. It turns out I had a relatively poor table assignment, at the very end of an aisle in the back of the hall where there was relatively low foot traffic compared to other parts of the show, surrounded by non-comics exhibitors. As such, sales turned out to be a bit disappointing—live and learn. Nevertheless, sales were slow but steady and I managed to get re-discovered by people who had not seen my work in years and to gain new readers.
Aside from that, the experience for attendees seemed positive. Cosplay was very much in evidence (it was funny to see the reactions of some people on the Metro Rail line who weren’t aware of the show). It's fun to see the many inventive costumes, especially when the cosplayer stays in character—my favorites, which you'll see on this blog, were Austin Powers, Archie, and Hamilton (from the Broadway show). The Jack Sparrow pictures above was really amazing—partly because no mater how close in you go in the photo, it really looks like Johnny Depp!
Many attendees told me they were attending a comic-book convention for the first time while others admitted they were attending either because they haven’t been able to get a ticket for the San Diego show in years or because they no longer liked that show’s scale. Nonetheless, everyone seemed to have a good time.
So in spite of the facility’s shortcomings, overall WonderCon seemed to be a success.
Click here to view the full photo album.