[Wonder Con ’22] Anti-Hero

It’s me. Hi.

Let’s talk about Wonder Con 2023 vibes.


Wonder Con 2023 brought in SoCal geeks by the thousands. While Friday and Sunday had a lighter fare of attendees, in contrast to previous Wonder Con’s, the attendance numbers were not as high. Saturday was busy and drew in the most people, but it was not shoulder-to-shoulder crazy. Tickets for the weekend were not sold out. Prior to the pandemic, Wonder Con would typically sell out their weekend tickets. We went on all three days to check out the pop culture show in Anaheim.


I like the spontaneity of “unofficial” events. An example of this would be Lemar’s Karaoke Corner outside the convention center. On Saturday, the Twitch personality, set up a corner where people can come in and karaoke in the middle of the convention courtyard. He vowed to be there until he was kicked out. We left on Saturday at 9PM and his karaoke game was still going strong.


Another spontaneous event was the Hellfire Gala. If you are familiar with X-Men, there is the Hellfire Club where things get fancy. The Hellfire Gala is inspired by the annual Met Gala where celebrities wear high fashion designer outfits. This gala mixed the creativity of the Met Gala with an X-Men twist. There were about 30+ mutants walking the (outdoor) runway to showcase their style. I liked seeing the variety of outfits and how people either recreated official Hellfire Gala outfits or created their own design. It was very rare that there were duplicates. To participate in future Hellfire Gala runways, it is either invite only or by application.


It’s no surprise that Wonder Con draws in cosplayers and cosplay photographers. However, while I do like covering and documenting cosplayers at these events, I couldn’t help feel that there was a negative cloud over some photographer personalities. I know even when I was cosplaying as Sailor Moon, I was more than once ignored for photos despite the level of work and creativity I had put in this new cosplay that I worked on since the start of the pandemic. The negative vibe can be described as, “If you’re not an influencer, we don’t want you.” While I was thankful for the likes of Kris Z and Luna for documenting my photos, there was a level of photographer bias and that’s no good for the SoCal cosplay community.


I did enjoy the community panels that I attended. While the Filipino Voices panel was canceled, I finally attended Julian Jetson’s Gay Geeks and Where to Find Them. While I jokingly answer to find them among the Homestuck fandom, this was an insightful panel ran by queer folks for queer geeks. The panelists were mostly from the X-Men fandom and tied in mutants with LGBT representation. We also had a side discussion about Barbies too!


The dealers hall and artists alley were massive. Long gone from the dealers hall were the big publishing giants like Marvel and DC. The Funko Funhouse is now the It thing in the dealers hall. I also liked browsing through the indie publishers section. I ended up getting a few new indie titles and having conversations with creators. I’m not big into American hero comics since manga calls to me more, but I do like seeing experimental and out-of-the-box storytelling that doesn’t rely on cliche or safe storytelling. The aisles were wide enough for people to navigate without feeling too crowded. My favorite part of the dealers hall was fashionable merch. I ended up getting a few things from Whosits and Whatsits – they had a ton of Disneybounding accessories and pins. I also have a soft spot for Mishelly’s Designs; they’re known to sell earrings!


We had a lot of Filipino American publications and artists present at Wonder Con. Lumpia had their own booth promoting their comics based off their characters in the cult classic and were also promoting their film that’s currently in the festival circuit. I also picked up a ton of Filipino themed art in the artists alley that had pins of aswang and women in Filipiniana dresses.


Foodwise, there’s a ton of food trucks, but the lines can get pretty crowded and long. We ended up bringing salads and burritos from home. But if we must, there is a Starbucks in the Hilton. We didn’t get to see 10 Forward, the Wonder Con after hours con suite, but I’m glad it was there for those who needed a late night snack.

The overall vibe was mostly American hero comics from major publishers and surprisingly, a ton of Everything Everywhere All At Once cosplayers! I cosplayed as Ningguang and I didn’t expect people to know what I was from since Genshin is niche to the anime fandom. Yet, Jay and I were surprised that Final Fantasy VII cosplayers didn’t recognize his Reno.


Overall, Wonder Con is a con that values what we bring to their show. I love having the opportunity to present on anime, manga, and video game topics. Yet, if you plan to cosplay from anime or video games, do it because you love it. People may not know what you’re from (there were a lot of Guys With Cameras ™ who didn’t know I was Sailor Moon), but have the fun for your sake and not for the sake of attention. If you have the means and the time, Wonder Con is a good con to check out if you’re local. Most major things (like the Saint Seiya movie) get announced two weeks before the con, so definitely plan accordingly if you do want to make the trek out to Anaheim.


Written by Dame Aznable
IG: @damescarletaznable
Twitter: @dameaznable
TikTok: @damescarletaznable

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