Normally at this time, I come here and bitch about what books have appeared this week while trying to be funny with varying results. This week, however, I've managed to fail to get to the store, and therefore have nothing to review. Well, nothing apart from the programming schedule for next week’s Wondercon here in Sunny San Francisco, of course. "With over 90 hours of programming over 3 days, WonderCon’s programming schedule has something for everyone," claims the official website, which means that somehow they’re adding in an extra six hours per day for your pleasure. Time means nothing to these people, I’m telling you.
I have a love-hate relationship with conventions that can best be described as "I am scared to talk to people whose work I like, equally scared to talk to those whose work I dislike and have said as much in public where they could see it and may want to hit me as a result (Greg Rucka, for example. Will it help if I say now that I really enjoy his novels and liked his Wonder Woman before it was derailed by Infinite Crisis? Probably not), and all those people in homemade outfits make me nervous”. With some love being added in somewhere, of course. Nonetheless, I’ll be headed to Wondercon like everyone else, lured in by the promise of some of the following:
Amongst some of the many things that I’ll miss because of that thing I call "my job" are panels with Ramona Fradon (whose great work graced the recent DC Showcase Presents Metamorpho collection), Mike Mignola, and Mike and Laura Allred. Gerard Jones gets a panel to himself to talk about his wonderful Men of Tomorrow book, and New Yorker illustrator and Neil Gaiman favorite Gahan Wilson also has an hour of Room 2018 to fill. Being the first day, the running themes of the Con get started: Obsessive Firefly/Serenity fans, and DC’s corporate panels. The Whedon Worship gets underway with the world premiere of "Done The Impossible: The Fans’ Tale of Firefly and Serenity," a documentary about how Joss Whedon’s fans did the same as Star Trek’s fans, only about ten years sooner, and Dan Didio gets to host "Modern Architecture: The Architects of The DC Universe," with guests Greg Rucka, Grant Morrison and Mark Waid, talking about post-One Year Later DC. That panel will be nothing like Saturday’s "DCU 2006: The Best Is Yet To Come", which also features Rucka, Morrison and Waid talking about DC post-One Year Later and is hosted by Didio, nor will it resemble Sunday’s "DC Comics’ Crisis Counselling," which has the stellar line-up of Greg Rucka, Grant Morrison and Mark Waid, all talking about post-One Year Later DC with host Dan Didio.
Highlight of the day may possibly be the mysterious "Special TRON event" that ends the night. As the blurb explains, "It’s a special TRON event! The fan-favorite, groundbreaking movie from the 80s is becoming a comic book in April, published by SLG, with story and art by Landry Walker, Eric Jones, and Louie De Martinis. This new comic series continues where the TRON 2.0 video game left off, chronicling the adventures of Jet Bradley, a talented young programmer who is trapped in a computer mainframe. Known for its incredible use of computer graphics before they were widely used in film, TRON makes the jump from movie to comics! Join us for this exciting event!" Anyone who can explain exactly what the nature of this special event is, feel free to tell me. I’m hoping that Jeff Bridges zaps all the attendees into a computer where they can fight that massive tank thing, myself.
If it’s Saturday, it has to be Hollywood day! Sure enough, this is the day that holds your best chance to see clips of movies before your friends see them online that evening. Bryan Singer has a Superman Returns panel with exclusive clips, JJ Abrams has a Mission Impossible 3 panel where lots of people will ask questions about Lost, just to piss him off, and Pixar celebrate being bought out by Disney by showing clips of Cars, their upcoming movie about those horse-drawn carriages that everyone’s talking about these days. Other media types around will include Kevin Smith, Wes Craven, Lucasfilm’s Steve Sansweet, and a collection of animation writers like Paul Dini, Mark Evanier and Adam Beechen.
If it’s comics folk you’re after, then be prepared for panels starring Grant Morrison, Frank Cho, Eric Powell, Peter David, Mark Waid, Terry Moore and Greg Rucka where you can ask them whether Civil War really is Marvel’s rip-off of Infinite Crisis or whether than honor falls to Annihilation. Alternatively, you can go and see the premiere of Ultimate Avengers and have that burning question – "Why not take Marvel’s over-the-top reimagining of the Avengers and tone it down for a wider audience who have suddenly decided that they want to watch a cartoon version of the Avengers?" – answered once and for all. There’s some grooviness happening out in the fringes of entertainment, though: A panel about "The Girls of Peanuts," as hosted by the Charles M. Schulz Museum, for one (I admit it; I have a crush on Peppermint Patty). Sergio Aragones doing a panel where he answers questions with drawings, for another, as well as Scott Saavedra’s Comic Book Heaven Live (Scott Shaw!’s also doing a live version of his Oddball Comics column which should be fun for those of us who like cheap laughs at other people’s hard work). Fans of Firefly and Serenity can entertain themselves with the "Sacramento and San Francisco Browncoats Meetup," although Browncoats from anywhere other than those two cities – even somewhere closeby, like Oakland – will be shot if they try and sneak in.
This is the traditional "If you can only make it to one day, make it this day" day – All the big solo panels, with a couple of exceptions, are on Saturday, and the amount of movie-related events (There are quite a few horror things that I’ve not mentioned because I couldn’t be bothered), mean that this is easily going to be the busiest day of the three. So if you have a fear of being in an enclosed space with lots of Imperial Stormtroopers, this may not be the day for you. Just a warning.
Last minute addition to the guest list Frank Miller gets his turn to shine on the last day of the con, having his panel run with no other big name guests appearing elsewhere as competition (But there is a new episode of Spongebob Squarepants premiering); the programming promises that there’ll be some Comic Book Legal Defense Fund-related surprises at this one, so place your bets about what that means. Other than that, the con does its normal Sunday winding down, which means that the panels stay interesting but will probably be calm affairs – There are panels about the future of comic retailing, how comic books can be brought into classrooms and libraries, and a bunch of robot-related nerds arguing whether Robby The Robot could kick MechaGodzilla’s ass (Hint: No). Those poor under-served Firefly fans get their own charity prize drawing as well as a charity auction, Chris Bachalo explains why he really hasn’t lost his talent after Shade The Changing Man, and there’s an entire panel about whether Star Trek is dead after the cancellation of Enterpise, or whether it lives on in our hearts and alternate universes where we all have goatee beards.
The real reason to go on Sunday, mind you, is to try and grab some cheap comics from all the dealers just before they close up for the weekend. That complete run of Kickers, Inc. is yours for the taking, dear friends… All of that said, looking into my crystal ball, I can see myself spending all of Sunday apologizing to Kate for wanting to spend the weekend before Valentine’s Day at a comic convention, but that might just be me.
So there you have it: Wondercon 2006. Looking ahead, my pick of the weekend is more than likely going to be the Grant Morrison panel, just to hear whatever he’s thinking about these days. My pick of the weakend has to be the Tron event, because, well, it’s a Tron event. For the nerdier of the San Franciscans like me, all of Wondercon may be eclipsed by Sarah Vowell doing an appearance at A Clean, Well-Lighted Place for Books this Wednesday, however...
Jeff does reviews below. Go read them, because they're more interesting than all of this.