For months a huge question mark has loomed over the location of 2013’s WonderCon, one of the largest comics conventions in the United States. In an exclusive interview with Comic-Con International's v-p of marketing and public relations, David Glanzer, he revealed that the answer is Anaheim—but that could change, as Comic-Con International, the non-profit organization that runs the show, may still get dates in the fall for a Bay Area show. In which case that show will be WonderCon and the Anaheim show will be rebranded an as-yet unnamed new SoCal show.
But as of right now, WonderCon is slated to be held March 29-31, 2013 in Anaheim—which also happens to be Easter weekend.
Complicated? So is the situation the CCI folks found themselves in. Basically, San Francisco’s Moscone Center, where WonderCon has been held for over a decade, could not give them dates more than six months in advance for 2013. Because of construction at the Moscone this year, there were no dates available at all, and so CCI made the decision to move the show to Anaheim to keep the spring dates. The show was a success, with the same mix of comics, movies, and costumes that nerd-fest fans have come to expect.
According to Glanzer, Moscone finally came back to them with dates for 2013—and there were none available for the spring. “However they thought they could give us dates in the fall, and let us know a year in advance,” he continues, “But we wouldn’t know until this October.”
Meanwhile, the Anaheim Convention Center came back to the CCI board and said that they had spring dates available for 2013.
So the board was faced with a choice—take the spring dates in Anaheim and give up on having the show return to the Bay Area in 2013. Or, hope that they would get the fall dates for San Francisco—but give up the sure thing in Anaheim with no guarantee that they could even get dates for the fall.
So they decided to do both, says Glanzer. “We thought long and hard about it. If we do get the fall dates in Moscone then WonderCon will be in SF and we’ll have to name the Anaheim show something else.”
If the two show scenario does come about, it would be the first time CCI has launched a new show—they acquired both WonderCon and APE, a smaller indie-focused show, from previous show runners, leaving the CCI staff preparing for a four-show schedule for the first time. “We’ve told everybody and we’re all gearing up for it,” says Glanzer. “I hope that we can do but it’s going to be a very difficult.”
Comic-Con International currently runs three shows, the Alternative Press Expo, which is held in San Francisco every fall; the homeless WonderCon; and the San Diego Comic-Con, the 130,000+ pop culture behemoth.
At the heart of the problem with a home for WonderCon is what seems to be the Moscone Center’s indifference to running a large local consumer show at their facility. Because WonderCon does not sell many hotel rooms through the official booking system, it is not seen as a show that’s a money maker for the local economy, despite the attendance of more than 39,000 people in 2011, the last year it was held in the Bay Area.
Anaheim’s convention center, by contrast, was an ardent suitor when the San Diego Comic-Con was looking for a new home, and seems glad to have the show on its schedule.
Since WonderCon is a Bay Area tradition, CCI did try to keep it in the area, but couldn’t find a suitable facility. San Jose was considered, but it is not large enough for the size of the show. “We didn’t want another situation like San Diego where more people want to get in than can fit in,” he explains.
Looking ahead, 2014 is also still a big question mark—so expect the WonderCon saga to continue for quite a while.