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After the Wonder of Wondercon March 19, 2012

Posted by shannonmuir in Advice, analysis, animation, Books, Conventions, fiction, TV, video games, videogames, Writing.
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I just came from spending the last four days at Wondercon in Anaheim. Normally, this SF and fantasy convention takes place in San Francisco and is a somewhat more intimate version of its “big sister” Comic-Con International that currently is held every summer in San Diego. I’ve attended Wondercon once before in San Francisco in 2007, where I led a panel about animation writing and production to tie in with promoting my textbook GARDNER’S GUIDE TO WRITING AND PRODUCING ANIMATION. Overall, the feel in Anaheim reminded me very much of my San Diego experience, except Anaheim didn’t quite seem able to deal initially with the overflow parking demand Saturday morning. Part of this was that there were also two other conventions – girls’ volleyball and spirit squad – taking up the rest of the Anaheim Convention Center all weekend and they needed parking as well. Wondercon had one-fourth of the upstairs exhibit space, the hall downstairs for registration,  but the upper seminar room levels and ballroom were all Wondercon’s as well.

I’ve been fortunate to be able to attend Wondercon and Comic-Con International as a pro for most of the years I’ve lived in Los Angeles, and as a pro guest my first year, and I am thankful to get this opportunity to be there along with other professionals I’ve come to know and respect over the years. Some of those people presented informational panels on various aspects of the animation industry – creating series on the first day, a general writing panel on the second day, and focusing on writing action in animation on the last day. Even though I have professional animation credits, I love going to these panels and hearing the ancedotes, or getting new tips and tricks myself. No matter your experience level, if you get the chance to hear professionals speak on areas you care about, go for it!

I actually spent most of my time at panels, in part because the exhibit hall is much smaller at Wondercon and you can cover it in far less time in terms of browsing. Other types of panels I attended included: Hollywood and Comics, Spotlight on Mark Waid (who is looking at some revolutionary things in terms of the digital comics space), how to get a job in the video game industry (people from the console side of video games and I wanted to learn more about their companies and jobs, though the majority came from Northern California), the future of tabletop gaming (which got into how people are using technology to enhance or supplement their DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS and similar gaming experiences), the WOMANTHOLOGY comic book panel which got launched via an amazing Kickstarter campaign, how to get press coverage for your comic or webcomic, a great cartoon voices panel hosted by Mark Evanier, and a DC Nation showcase featuring a mentor and great friend. So the panels I went to comprised a mix of business  needs such as getting to know what’s going on in the business,  and find out what areas might possibly have work now or in the near future – and simply a love of the business.

There was also a little bit about the books business too. The last panel attended on Sunday focused on YA literature and in specific horror books and dystopias. One panelist had her book options with a well produced trailer (at least that was my opinion, IMHO, after seeing it screened) to get exposure before a major movie in several markets, then was positioned (only due to past credits in screenwriting) to be able to go then go sell the screenplay of her novel along with her agent immediately following the premiere of the other YA film. We also saw another book trailer, made by a writer who had connections with a very well credited producer, whose book is only at the optioned stage. Several other panelists had books optioned with major studios, though one of them (who actually was half of a writing team) had a film that starts production in April based on that series, BEAUTIFUL CREATURES. One person did ask directly about self-publishing, and those that responded said they were all for it, but definitely stressed the need to hire a well qualified editor or getting trusted professional feedback. This wasn’t just for the possible grammar or spelling mistakes, but for issues such as pacing of a story too.

Some people, when they found out I would be going, asked if I had a booth or panel this year. Both opportunities are great if you can get them. I would have loved to be on a panel but definitely wasn’t in a position to prepare or propose one, though that’s much easier to do at Wondercon I think that at Comic-Con where all the big studios are vying for spots. I’m also not on any projects that would merit renting or sharing a booth, as Comic-Con is more comic art proper with some gaming thrown in due to the San Francisco connections, and a lot less about television and film at least in terms of the exhibit hall.

Overall, I had a great time and am really glad that I attended Wondercon.

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