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Still, It Beats Goin' To Work...

Thank you for the Friday distraction...
Traveling by sleek futuristic train, we alighted just blocks from the auspiciously geeky sounding Metreon building. Though tempted by its chrome exterior and promise of literal Wild Things, this was not why we had come to San Francisco.

No, our goal lay a little further up the road, at the less apt-sounding Moscone Center. In the bowels of its north building dwelled Wondercon 2003.

Oh, to have read enough H.P. Lovecraft in order to ape his style here. But no, not only do I not have the skills, but on Friday, its first day, Wondercon was nice, clean, and quiet. Even the costumes seemed to be limited to the usual stormtroopers, and they were there with their own booth.

(It's rumored that Fanboy Planet staffer Mish'al Samman has been accepted into their ranks, but luckily a business trip to Japan kept him from serving the Empire this past weekend.)

Being a regional convention, Wondercon fits snugly into a smaller space than San Diego does. At least on Friday, it therefore lacked the "I have found my people and can now await the mothership" feel. But there's something to be said for intimacy.

Once again, pandering because we love...Linda O'Neil
For one thing, you don't have to push past dozens of sweaty doppelgangers to get a look at soft-core pornstars Linda O'Neil and Aria Giovanni. Not that we looked, of course. Nor did the ever-diffident Michael Goodson actually take a picture, either. (We're going to rethink his convention duties of staff photographer and "that Fanboy Planet guy who looks like Jared from Subway and makes wiseass remarks.")

The first day of a convention is a good day to shop. Everything you could possibly want is there, with dealers from all across the country. The greatest bargains may not be there yet (that's for the last day), but for a price you can get just about anything your heart desires, except Linda O'Neil and/or Aria Giovanni.

Our goal, of course, was HeroClix, and those dealers with individual figures for sale appeared to be doing well. As one seller told us, "I'm here with boxes of $1, $2 toys, and nobody could care less about the $300 comics under them."

Unfortunately, most of the big events were scheduled to happen on Saturday, and only the intrepid Christopher J. Garcia could go that day. We haven't been able to find him yet.

That's not to say there weren't events and people at Wondercon on Friday. Though DC had a small booth set up, their big guns were out in full force. We found Jeph Loeb lurking near the soft pretzels.

Leading the way with presentations, relatively new Cinefantastique Editorial Director (and longtime Mindfire Entertainment CEO) Mark A. Altman moderated a couple of interesting panels with Robert Meyer Burnett and Daren Dochterman.

The first was on DVD production, with most of us straining to hear what Burnett might let slip about the extras on X2 and The Two Towers, both of which he is currently producing. The studio heads can relax; Burnett knows where his bread is buttered and kept annoyingly tight-lipped.

Later on the group reconvened to talk about what we all really go to comic book conventions for: upcoming movies. Altman ran a few trailers, and opened the floor to questions about what Cinefantastique thought would be the winners. (The Hulk did not make an appearance - out of respect for Universal's Saturday presentation, perhaps.) Want to know which movie Altman pegs as the winner (artistically, anyway) this summer? The same one Jordan Rosa does: 28 Days Later.

Notable for its low-key approach to Comic-Con last summer, Marvel was completely absent from Wondercon. Only Universal touted them, in the form of the upcoming Hulk videogame being demo'd. The review copy hasn't reached our office yet, but it was fun to watch The Hulk smash things…

If we can find Garcia, we'll have more to report.

Derek McCaw

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