WonderCon 2013 kicks off Friday. Click through the gallery for Hero Complex's top programming picks. (Los Angeles Times; Sony Pictures; Warner Bros.)Link
In what is sure to be a colorful presentation, Guillermo del Toro shows off the latest footage from "Pacific Rim" -- his July 12 action film about an epic battle between alien kaiju and giant robots piloted by humans. 11:30 a.m. Sat. in the Arena. (Warner Bros.)Link
Scott Snyder’s New 52 “Batman” run with artist Greg Capullo has not lacked for ambition – or fan fervor (or torment for Bruce Wayne) – in its “The Court of Owls” and Joker-rific “Death of the Family” sagas. Up next: “Batman: Zero Year,” a look at how Bruce became the Bat in DC Comics’ New 52 continuity revamp. The Eisner-winning writer, above, will offer a look at that year’s sure-to-be-eventful calendar. 5 p.m. Fri., Room 207 (DC Comics)Link
Capcom's anticipated game "Remember Me” stars Nilin, a memory hunter, in a sci-fi action game set in a “Blade Runner”-like Paris. Combat has earned comparisons to “Batman: Arkham City,” but Nilin’s main weapon is her ability to enter an enemy’s mind and trick her targets into going mad. The game's creative team shows off gameplay footage and answers questions. 3:30 p.m. Sat., Room 300DE. Capcom is also hosting an overview panel 11 a.m. Sat. in Room 300AB and another panel on the art of its video games at 1:30 p.m. Sun. in Room 300DE. (Capcom)Link
"Superman: Unbound," the latest DC Universe animated feature film, is based on the 2008 DC release "Superman: Brainiac." Supes is voiced by Matt Bomer ("White Collar"), and Brainiac is voiced by John Noble ("Fringe"). Catch the movie premiere followed by a panel discussion with the filmmakers. We're told there will be prizes. 6 p.m. Fri. in the Arena. (Warner Bros.)Link
At first, many Spider-Man fans liked writer Dan Slott. Then Peter Parker died, and Slott was decried by some as a villain on the level of a Doc Ock. Now, several issues into “Superior Spider-Man,” he seems to have won readers’ confidence back. You can ask him how he’s dealing with the whiplash. 2:30 p.m. Sun., Room 300DE (Marvel)Link
Although it's not part of the official WonderCon programming lineup, Hero Complex would be remiss if we did not mention our early screening of Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle's "Trance," starring James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel and Rosario Dawson. The free screening at the UltraLuxe Anaheim Cinemas at GardenWalk in Anaheim will be followed by a Q&A with Boyle. Sat. 7:30 p.m., 321 W. Katella. (Susie Allnutt / Fox Searchlight)Link
Enjoy (if that's the right word) some exclusive footage from director Fede Alvarez's upcoming remake of Sam Raimi's 1981 cult horror film "Evil Dead" in a blood-rain-free environment. Alvarez, producers Bruce Campbell and stars Jane Levy and Jessica Lucas are on hand for questions. 2:30 p.m. Sat. in the Arena. (TriStar Pictures / Sony)Link
Bring the kids along to a screening of "LEGO Batman: The Movie – DC Superheroes Unite," sure to be a fun-filled, family-friendly flick. A discussion with the filmmakers and actors follows. 2 p.m. Sun., Room 300AB. (Warner Bros.)Link
The cast of History’s new adventure saga “Vikings,” where millions are turning for their vicarious marauding fix, sails in for a morning raid of discussing the characters, taking questions, and previewing an upcoming episode. Please, do not plunder the panel room. 10:30 a.m. Sat., Room 300DE. (Jonathan Hession / History; Associated Press)Link
Whedonites rejoice! Director Joss Whedon and "Much Ado About Nothing" cast members (Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Sean Maher and Fran Kranz, among others) are bringing their Shakespearean adaptation to WonderCon. 11 a.m. Sun. at the Arena. (Lionsgate; Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)Link
Ann Nocenti, who in the late ’80s brought a brighter outlook and progressive politics to Marvel’s oft-depressing “Daredevil,” has returned to comics and is now writing DC’s “Catwoman” and “Katana.” What’s she planning for those sharp women? She’ll answer questions from DC co-publisher and superstar artist Jim Lee. 4 p.m. Sat., Room 203 Jim Lee has a spotlight panel 11:30 a.m. Sat. in Room 300DE. (DC)Link
Eli Roth is leaving the dank torture chambers of "Hostel" behind for his latest effort. He's executive producing Netflix's newest original series, "Hemlock Grove," a murder mystery set in a quirky small town. But don't think Roth has tamed his instincts at all. This series promises to be just as brutal as anything he's done. Roth and his fellow producers, as well as members of the cast will be together to talk about the show. 6:30 p.m. Fri., Room 300DE (Matt Carr / Getty Images; Netflix)Link
John Layman is scripting comics about two very different detectives – one takes a bite out of crime with his “cibopathic” ability to see the history of what he eats, the other favors a batarang. The Eisner-winning co-creator of “Chew” and writer of “Detective Comics” and “Mars Attacks” has titled his spotlight panel “Despair With Layman!,” but that won’t be the prevailing emotion if he brings a chog. 10:30 a.m. Sat., Room 213. (Image Comics)Link
"Battlestar Galactica" alumnus Richard Hatch (above right) is a staple at comic conventions. This year, he's sharing some tips to give you an edge in your next acting audition or role-playing game. 6 p.m. Fri., Room 210BCD. (Frank Ockenfels / Sci Fi Channel)Link
It’s common advice from professionals to fans looking to break into comics: self-publish to get noticed. Of all the I-want-in and how-to panels at WonderCon, none may be more insightful than the one featuring longtime indie successes and Eisner winners Jeff Smith (“Bone,” “RASL”), above, and Terry Moore (“Strangers in Paradise,” “Rachel Rising”). 12:30 p.m. Sun., Room 208. Moore also has a spotlight panel at 4:30 p.m. Fri., also in Room 208. Smith has a spotlight panel at 5 p.m. Sat. in Room 203. (Scholastic)Link
No, Chali 2na, left, and Dan The Automator are not names from the legions of lesser-known Avengers. Be serious. The alternative hip-hop figures and other panelists discuss how the music’s culture and comics have influenced each other in visual aesthetics, storytelling attitude and more. 7 p.m. Sat., Room 210A. (Universal; James Patrick Dawson / Coachella)Link
Many convention attendees come in costume. Show off yours or simply enjoy everyone's handiwork (and performances) at the annual Masquerade. 8:30 Sat. at the Arena. (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)Link
There may be more costumed characters across the street from the Happiest Place on Earth than in it this weekend as thousands of sci-fi, fantasy and comics enthusiasts arrive for WonderCon 2013, which kicks off Friday at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Run by the organizers of Comic-Con International, WonderCon is in many ways a junior sibling to that massive pop-culture expo in San Diego, featuring panel discussions for blockbuster films, popular television shows and comics creators, not to mention portfolio review for aspiring professionals, book signings, a cosplay masquerade and plenty of geek-friendly shopping on the convention floor.
This year’s WonderCon programming lineup includes panels for Guillermo del Toro’s robots vs. kaiju film “Pacific Rim,” the Sam Raimi- and Bruce Campbell-produced “Evil Dead” remake and Joss Whedon’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” among others. Click through the gallery above for Hero Complex’s top picks for WonderCon this year.
It’s WonderCon’s 27th year and its second turn in Anaheim after renovations at San Francisco’s Moscone Center forced the convention out in 2012 and scheduling conflicts this year delayed the expo’s return to its Bay Area roots. Some fans lamented the move (born in Oakland, WonderCon is a Bay Area tradition), but David Glanzer, spokesman for Comic-Con International and WonderCon, said the Anaheim event last year was “surprisingly successful.”
“I say ‘surprisingly’ because any time you mount a show in a new venue in a new city, you never really know what to expect,” Glanzer said. “But the turnout was great.”
Fans showed up in force, with just shy of 40,000 people attending the 2012 convention, Glanzer said.
“And the response was pretty good too,” he added. “Anaheim is a great city. There’s a lot stuff here in terms of hotel rooms, restaurants really nearby, Disneyland is right across the street. … It really is a good destination.”
The show was rebranded “WonderCon Anaheim” to differentiate it from its Bay Area incarnation, and should the convention return, it probably will be called “WonderCon San Francisco,” Glanzer said. The distinction could pave the way for twin conventions in the two California cities.
“I don’t know that we have the resources to do that, but I have to tell you that is something that has certainly come up,” Glanzer said. “To be very, very honest with you, we haven’t thought that far in advance, but I will say that that is a question that has come up, and at some point we’re going to have to address it…. One of the things that we’ve discovered is that there really is an appetite for a show in Anaheim. A lot of people that we heard from were first-time attendees who had not even been to the San Diego show or other conventions. That’s pretty exciting — introducing new people to what we think is a really great convention.”
Glanzer said he’s expecting a similar turnout this year, despite the Easter holiday weekend, noting that three-day badges and Saturday-only badges sold out. Parking, which proved a hassle for many attendees last year, is expected to be better this year because WonderCon isn’t sharing the Anaheim space, as opposed to last year, when cheerleading and women’s volleyball events were simultaneously held in the convention center. Young women in cheerleading uniforms posed for pictures with passing Stormtroopers and superheroes.
“I had never seen so many women coming up to costumed guys asking for photos — it was amazing,” Glanzer said, laughing. “It’s an event that is very welcoming. You had these women who I don’t know that you’d ever have expected to see them at a convention, but by the end of the weekend, a lot of them had bought badges and were walking the floor. I don’t know that these people would all get together on any other weekend during the year.”
— By Noelene Clark and Blake Hennon | @LATHeroComplex
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