Con Recap: My Experience at WonderCon 2023
By Jason Delgado
Cons are about the fans, and the fans are back! It was encouraging to see WonderCon getting back to normal attendance-wise on March 24 – 26, 2023 in Anaheim, CA, compared to the down year of 2022. It was not crowded on Friday, which is usually the case with this Con, but Saturday was jam-packed with attendees and cosplayers.
I kicked off my Friday of the Con by attending the “Everyone’s a Critic” panel, featuring Chris Gore and Alan Ng of Film Threat, along with Stacey Yvonne (Stacey Yvonne Creative), Mary Anne Butler (Nerdbot), Danielle Broadway (Reuters), and moderated by Bill Watters (Nerdbot). My main takeaways are that if you want to be a critic, to not be afraid to apply to different places, get your content out there, and try to join critics associations such as the Critics Choice Association or Hollywood Critics Association. Gore and Ng both mentioned that if you choose to write for a bigger website, your distinctive voice may be edited out in order to sound like everyone else (unless you use Gore’s trick of turning in your writing late so that they don’t have time to edit your voice out).
Next, I walked the Con floor with the Film Threat crew before their next panel, because we are all pop culture collectors at heart. That led to a surreal moment for me, where a fan asked all of us to be in a group photo with him. I can only hope that the popularity of Film Threat grows because they spread the word about independent films that people would never hear about otherwise.
Film Threat’s panel on Friday night was titled “Future Indies That You Must See,” with Chris Gore moderating a panel with editor Alan Ng, Paulie (Latino Slant), Dante James (Verbal Riot), and Robert Meyer Burnett (The Post Geek Singularity). The first trailer shown was for Cocaine Shark, which as Dante pointed out, proves that anyone can make a movie. Burnett gave examples of extremely low budget movies that turned out to be successful. Paulie championed the trailer for the documentary American Homeboy, which explores the evolution of cholo culture. Another interesting trailer was for Abruptio, which is as Gore put it an “Incredibly weird and dark crime/sci-fi/fantasy/film noir made with life-size puppets.” That movie sounds just up my alley!
Chris also showed a trailer for his own documentary Attack of the Doc, which explores the history of the popular program that he was on called Attack of the Show, and the evolution of nerd culture. I have already seen the movie and it is fantastic! The world premiere will be at the Frida cinema in Santa Ana, California on April 21st, (with tickets to attend available at: https://thefridacinema.org/), and it will be released on VOD and Blu-Ray soon after.
Gore gave a tip to aspiring indie filmmakers by saying that he used the company Indie Rights to distribute his film. They have a flat 80/20 split, where the filmmaker gets 80 percent, and Indie Rights gets 20 percent of all revenue earned (and no upfront fees or expenses). This is a great deal, especially if your film already has a built-in audience.
The night ended on a high note with a Film Threat meetup with the panelists and whoever wanted to join the fun at the nearby hotel bars. Seeing these guys and talking about movies is always a blast!
The Saturday of WonderCon was a banner day for me because my wife and I took our three-year-old son to a Con for the very first time! He was beyond excited to talk and take pictures with his favorite superheroes. To see his face light up meant the world to us. It is a proud parent moment that we’ll never forget, and I am extremely grateful that everyone in costume was so kind and generous to him. It confirms to me the positivity that Cons can provide, besides all of the awesome people that I have met myself at these events over the years. Celebrities and collectibles are fun, but it is the fans themselves who make comic conventions so amazing.
I came back on Sunday by myself to walk the Con floor some more, and to see the panel “The New Age of WOC Comic Creators,” featuring Kayden Phoenix (A La Brava, Jalisco), Ghezal Omar (.357 Magnum Opus, Pimp Killer), Maxi Rodriguez (Chubby Bunny), and Christine Pasalo Norland (writer; founder and president, Hello Barkada) discussing how new types of characters can be told with pride. Maxi Rodriguez talked about how the only chubby characters she saw growing up were the Blob and Big Bertha, which were not flattering, so she created her own comic based on herself and her relationship with her husband. Kayden Phoenix is a filmmaker who decided to create the first female Latina superhero team in graphic novels because she was tired of being underrepresented. These creators are trying to spread the word, so that new voices can be heard.
Thank you to WonderCon for providing such an extraordinary experience! WonderCon will take place next year on March 29 – 31, 2024. As Stan “the Man” Lee would say, “Excelsior!”