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Sunday, February 12

Wonder world 

[Edit -- Feb. 16: I've added more thoughts about "Cars" here]

I journeyed to San Francisco to attend Wondercon Saturday to check out the show and hopefully meet some of my friends from TrekBBS (where most of this entry was first posted). The convention was a blast and there was a ton of people (at one point, the line to get in stretched around the Moscone Center West). Although smaller than the über-con Comic Con in San Diego, it was a "world of pure imagination," to steal a phrase from Willy Wonka.

I actually ran into one poster after the late-night screening of Star Wars fan films. So while it would've been cool to hang out with my fellow TBBSers, but I hope those people that went had a good time.

Some observations (taken from memory):

- I felt like my geek card was left at home. A lot of these people know their stuff and I had to sheepishly admit several times that I'm not really a "comics" guy. I can still redeem myself with "Star Wars" references.

- Nonetheless, I liked the comics-related stuff I did see, including meeting Keith Knight of "The K Chronicles" and his wife Kerstin. He pens a weekly alt-newsweekly comic. I asked extremely predictable questions, but it was a pleasure to meet him and Kerstin (who BTW looked strong after going through surgery recently).

- The "Ultimate Avengers" screening was popular with an added screening. The animated film comes out on DVD on Feb. 21. I thought it was good -- the style is very similar to DC's Batman/Superman work, voice performances were pretty dramatic and not too hammy for a superhero cartoon. I don't know if I would buy it or the two follow-ups -- maybe I'd rent.

- Kevin Smith was funny as all get out. I loved his stories about Prince (and how some of his footage for a behind-the-scenes video ended up in a video for Jehovah's Witnesses). We laughed and cried at Smith's stories about the cast and crew of "Clerks II" chilling at the hotel across from the set. People in the mostly full audience also ate up the Clerks II clip (which was preceded by countless reminders for people to turn off their video cameras, seriously. He wasn't kidding. He wanted those cameras turned off. Or else he would stop the clip and we'd sit quietly. He meant it.).

Oh, and the people booing the guy trying to pitch him a film project was a good time.

- I felt more lukewarm about the Superman stuff because of the relatively weak Q&A with Brian Singer and Brandon Routh (who was a surprise guest). I came in towards the end, but Singer and Routh's responses just seemed awkward and unrevealing.

- "Cars" looks a lot better with some of the fully-rendered clips presented by a panel from Pixar. The details are pretty breathtaking, IMO. Before I was concerned because the cars looked like Silly Putty in last-year's trailer. I'm still a little ambivalent, but I'm willing to see it. [Edit: I've added more thoughts about "Cars" here]

The Oscar-nominated "One Man Band" short was awesome and hilarious.

- TV personality sighting: I saw Blair Butler from the G4 cable network with a film crew for "Attack of the Show." Speaking with her briefly before the Star Wars Q&A, she was polite and funny (referring to herself as "P-list celebrity") and looked great in person with her hair down.

- The Star Wars stuff was OK. There was nothing too revealing in the Q&A (the cartoon series will highlight both American _and_ Japanese animation styles, Lego Star Wars II will be out this year, etc.). The film fest was cool although I had seen several of the shorts before. But they gave us buttons and stickers, so I can't complain.

- The Browncoat meeting was a mild disappointment. The SF and Sacramento clubs had intended to show some of the panels from other cons, but the con operators wouldn't let them do it. So they were watching episodes of the show (which isn't bad, just that there's a lot more going on outside). "Shindig" was good.

- Peter David had a "big announcement" at his panel. He said he was going to go exclusive with Marvel for the next three years. It was a winning proposition for him -- he will be able to continue the other comic projects he has on the table (some with other publishers) and he gets medical benefits.

His latest New Frontiers book "Missing in Action" was available early at the show for the fans to purchase. Several of his fans proudly held up their copies of the large paperback.

I'm very excited about his new "Next Generation" book about the Borg with the intended purpose to get the Borg back to their original, horrifying roots. David said the Borg are supposed to be an unrelenting force like a million Terminators (from the first movie). The novel will be set post-Nemesis.

Asking David later, my concerns about why he had the crew of Excalibur skip the Dominion War were entirely unfounded.

He's writing a new Battlestar Galactica book (something like "Sagittarius Rising") which he said primarily deals with Roslyn after "Epiphanies." David said he loves the new series, but he initially stayed away because he thought they were doing a disservice to Richard Hatch. He changed his mind after some fans told him Hatch has a recurring role. He was blown away after seeing his first season one episode -- "Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part II." That's a doozy of way to break into the show (especially the end).

There was a lot of stuff going on Saturday and there was very little downtime between sessions. The sessions were informative and there were lots of available seats in most of them.

I didn't hit the vendor floor for very long, but I couldn't afford anything anyway. The floor was crammed with so many comic books and collectibles, I wouldn't know where to begin with my exploration. If there was time, I'd hunt for a copy of the Star Trek Mirror Universe saga released by DC Comics in the Â?80s (or the trade paperback re-release) and Futurama stuff from Bongo Comics.

I heard from others that this Wondercon seemed smaller this year and that it's definitely smaller than San Diego Comic Con (which I've never actually experienced). Still, it rocked and I would love to go again next year.

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