Even as questions swirled endlessly about the future of theComic-Con International: San Diego, the show's northern California cousin, WonderCon, proved thatthe combination of cartoonists, comics, and the toys, movies, video games andcostumes based on them, makes for an irresistible combination for local popculture fans.
Final attendance figures weren't yet available, but areexpected to be comparable to last year's 34,000 fans, despite the show being held overthe Easter weekend. While this had the potential to put a crimp in attendance,and the competition from Cadbury egg hunts on Sunday casued a quieter thanusual crowd, Friday and Saturday were brisk.
WonderCon, one of three comics shows run by the San Diego comic-co—theother is the Alternative Press Expo, also held in San Francisco—wasbolstered by many first timers among artists, publishers and fans. Most simplywanted to check the show out, and enjoy the well-known charms of the Bay Area,but a recurring theme—at least among professionals—was a desire to spendtime at a comics convention that wasn't overwhelmed by Hollywood productions.
Among the biggest comics news at the show, writer Greg Rucka caused astir by announcing on his spotlight panel that he was not doing any more DCwork, preferring to concentrate on his own projects, including Queen andCountry, Stumptown and an upcoming book he described as "Bladerunner meetsBlake's 7."
Rucka has been a mainstay at DC with a long run on WonderWoman and co-writer on the weekly serial 52. The future status of the awardwinning Batwoman series Rucka wrote remains unknown, although in a blog post, artist JH Williams said that DC remains committed to the character. Although many wished topaint Rucka's departure as dissatisfaction with DC, in subsequent comments on hisblog, Rucka stressed that "There is no drama here."
DC had a few announcements of their own, including the firstjoint public appearance of the new creative brain trust of co-publishers DanDiDio and Jim Lee and Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns on a "DCNation" panel. Lee announced that the long delayed All-Star Batman andRobin the Boy Wonder will be reappearing in February rebranded as DarkKnight: Boy Wonder as part of writer Frank Miller's Dark Knight universe. ABatman mini-series created by art legend Neal Adams, Batman: Odyssey, is also in the works.
Lee, who is heading DC's much-delayed entry into digitaldistribution, spoke about their plans on the panel, citing the continuing lackof a digital business model as part of the reason for their hesitancy, and reiterating the appeal ofpaper comics. "We have to come up with some really compelling content thatplays to the advantage of digital distribution.," said Lee. "Once wehave something like that, that's when you'll really see things start to shift."
Image announced several new projects, including Office Downe,a new crime comics by Joe Casey and Chris Burnham; and a new collection of TheCrusades by Steve Seagle and Kelley Jones. Anglophiles were pleased when Imagehosted English chat show host Jonathan Ross, who is writing the mini-seriesTurf for the publisher. And Richard Starkings announced that his seriesElephantmen has been optioned for the screen.
Over at IDW the big news was a comics continuation of the popular HBO vampireseries True Blood by David Tischman andMariah Huehner and artist David Messina. The publisher also spotlighted guest Darwyn Cookewith a preview of his next Parker adaptation, The Man with theGateway Face: A Prelude to The Outfit.
WonderCon's success comes even as the even vaster San Diegoedition of the comic-con brand has long outgrown its current convention centerand hotel availability, and a move to Anaheim or Las Vegas is being seriouslyconsidered by organizers. Most people agreed, however, if San Diego is too big,WonderCon was just right.