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Monday, March 2, 2009

Over the Weekend: WonderCon 2009 at the Moscone Center

Posted By on Mon, Mar 2, 2009 at 7:00 AM

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WonderCon 2009
Moscone Center South
February 27- March 1st
Review by Joshua "Creep" G.

WonderCon 2009 opened at the Moscone Center on Friday and stayed on through Sunday. This would mark the second comic-centric event that I have attended in the city, and next to the Alternative Press Expo, it was massive from the venue down.

Outside the Moscone, a variety of people were just hanging around, and a good number, as expected, were dressed up as some kind of comic or movie character. I ran into a few Chewbaccas, some Stormtroopers, and your token made-up characters. After walking around a bit, it occurred to me that the ones wearing the most revealing and skin-tight outfits were often the people you didn't want to see wearing that sort of thing. (But hey, they were having fun, so who am I to judge?)

I was expecting to see at least 75 fans dressed up like Heath Ledger's Joker, but I only found one. The most elaborate costume there had to be the Transformers "Bumblebee" ensemble (pictured at right); whoever was in the costume needed help walking, as the costume was bulky and slow moving. But the fans loved getting their pictures taken with him, just like that unknown guy in my shot.

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What was in abundance however was the whole "Steampunk" style of costume (above). Is it getting more popular, or am I just really that much of a recluse? Not only was there a good number of fans dressed this way, but there were about 5-6 tables and booths dedicated to costumes and accessories of this "genre." Some of the costumes were very professional-looking, and tailored better than most of the clothes I've owned.

The costumes, and some of the scantily-clad costumed women there, really made it hard to move around. The place was packed to begin with but then you add people moving slower than ever to gawk at those dressed up as well as take pictures -- it really made it difficult to see where you should go, and what each booth was supposed to be about. There were a few tables to the right of the venue that had famous "cult" actors doing signings. A few of them had placards letting you know who they were, and if the fans didn't move, you had no idea what was going on.

Adam West did have a good sized banner behind him, but Richard Kiel (Jaws in the Bond Films) who stood at 7'2" was just sitting down being hidden by the swarms of people. I tried my hardest to find Tony Todd (Candyman, Night of the Living Dead) as he was the one actor I wouldn't mind an autograph from, but no luck there. The biggest line and crowd for that matter was for the booth that had Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill signing throughout the days.

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The highlight for me, and one of the main reasons I wanted to go really, was the artist's alley and small press area. I guess it's kind of redundant to go to such a large event and focus on what is there at the A.P.E., but this area was far easier to manage and had more interesting things going down. There were all sorts of self-published comics, artists showing work in hopes of getting seen and a few artists that I frequently write about such as Jonathan Wayshak (above). He had prints, sketchbooks and original art for sale. He was also nice enough to do a little sketch for me in my miniature Moleskine.

was there with some new collectible vinyl toys coming they are releasing, and Last Gasp was also there, so it was a great opportunity to pick up some books and save on shipping. I also liked that Anatomy Tools was in attendance with their amazing anatomical reference figures that I featured in the last A.P.E article. It was a perfect spot for them to be in, and a necessary resource that any artist should look into.

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Gris Grimly had a pretty big booth, filled with all sorts of prints, originals and books for signing. Out of the prints that were there at the show, I think his were some of the best looking -- the quality was top-notch. I'll be featuring one of Gris' prints in the Lowbrow Art sale this Tuesday.
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Camilla d'Errico was just a short walk away from Gris Grimly. Her booth was filled with prints, shirts, books, comics, and a new plush that she is releasing. She is super nice did a sketch for my little book. She is having some work in the "Sweet Surrender" group show coming this Friday at the Gallery 1988, so if you have never seen her work in person you should definately check this out.
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The last artist that I talked to was David Mack, known for his "Kabuki" comics. He had a whole mess of prints that were very affordable, but I was worried about the rain and carrying the print with no tube so I had to skip. Sadly I haven't found a place online to get the same prints. We talked a bit about the materials he uses, acrylics, oils and watercolor and the how the unpredictability of watercolor is the coolest part of it all. Hopefully he will be at next year's A.P.E. so I can pick up some prints. Note to self: Bring tubes!
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There was also a booth that had a limited giclee print from the latest collaboration print from the Baby Tattooville events that go down every year. The original piece was made from such artists as: Glenn Barr, Luke Chueh, Gary Baseman, Amanda Visell, Lola, James Jean, Tara McPherson and more. The prints are only available to those that go to the events, or find the prints on auctions sites or buy this one here. Perfect score for anyone who brought enough to get a print this expensive.

I'm not sure if I had more fun at the WonderCon than I did at the Alternative Press Expo. The bulk of the show was booths filled with old comics, as if local comic shops just came in and set-up shop. There were also booths with toys and t-shirts but if you removed all of those "retail" style shops you would be left with an event smaller than the A.P.E. is. So if you went to be seen in a costume, or to stand in line for 2 hours to get an autograph, or even pay $6 for a beer (!!) then this was a great event. There were also some previews and Q&A sessions, but I must have got there at the wrong time or just spent too long getting pushed and squished. Next year, if I go, I will bring a cattle prod and a flask, so at least I can get a little sauced while waiting forever to get an autograph.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I went to see some of the artists I frequently write about.

Random Detail: They did have two life-sized remote control R2D2s. Tried to find a way to smuggle one out.

By the Way: I will try to feature some of the prints and collectibles I spoke of one the Lowbrow Art Sale, or my own site here.

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Josh Creep


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