by Transmute Jun
Fans of pop culture conventions were devastated when their favorite events were canceled in 2020 and throughout much of 2021. While cons started being held again in the second half of 2021, crowds were light, and exhibitor and panel offerings were even lighter. Yet the con spirit was strong, and each event I attended in 2021 took another step forward toward normalcy. WonderCon 2022 (held April 1-3) was definitely moving in the right direction, yet there were still a few aspects holding this event back.
The highlight of WonderCon 2022 was its studio programming. Disney+ brought The Quest and The Hardy Boys, Amazon Prime Video brought Undone and The Boys: Diabolical, while the CW brought Superman & Lois. Attendees were thrilled to see live programming with real creators up onstage, discussing their projects with the passion for which comic cons are known. This return to live, in-person, studio panels is desperately needed for the revival of cons, and fans were suitably appreciative.
The Exhibit Floor, while not as full as in previous years, still had its lures. The floor was anchored on one side by Funko (which hosted a constant Beach Bash party, similar to its Christmas-themed booth at Emerald City Comic Con last December) and on the other by Bandai/Tamashii (which offered stunning displays and Nanoblock workshops). If the space in between was somewhat lacking, attendees did not mind; they were simply happy to be back in the con environment.
Unfortunately, strict COVID policies put a damper on the overall mood. Despite all state and local restrictions being lifted for mega-events, WonderCon still required proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter, and masks were required indoors. For attendees who have gotten used to looser restrictions in California, these measures were unwelcome and there was much grumbling amongst fans. Inside the convention center, fans lived with the restrictions, given that this was the only way they could attend, but few people were happy that these rules were in place. One impact of the mask requirement was that there was little to no cosplay inside the convention center; cosplayers remained outside for photos and socializing (even more than is usual for WonderCon) because masks were not required in this area. While FoCC Blog understands that such restrictions were necessary in the past, conditions are changing for the better. It is possible that WonderCon was unable to adjust within a short timeframe as restrictions eased.
While the show did not sell out, the fans who did attend were happy to be there and eager to return to a comic con experience. Comic Con International has worked hard to bring back in-person cons, and it is my hope that they will be able to loosen COVID restrictions for the upcoming San Diego Comic Con (to be held July 21-24, 2022).
Did you attend WonderCon 2022? Join the conversation on the FoCC forums!