WonderCon, Comic-Con's "sister" convention, will be held virtually on March 26 and 27.
The online event titled WonderCon@Home will feature over 120 streamable panels by DC Entertainment, Dark Horse, Adult Swim, Warner Bros, Amazon Studios, Hulu, Netflix, CBS and more.
WonderCon 2020 was scheduled to happen in April 2020, but it's parent company, Comic-Con International, was forced to cancel both WonderCon in Anaheim and Comic-Con in San Diego due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, both conventions held individual virtual events instead. With more time to prepare for a virtual setting, this year will have a bigger schedule.
Known for its comic, gaming and television panels featuring celebrity artists, editors, actors and producers, WonderCon is one of the biggest comic conventions. Their last in-person convention at the Anaheim Convention Center in 2019 had 60,000 attendees.
"A major element of our mission is to bring awareness to comics and related popular art forms,” said David Glanzer, WonderCon's chief communications and strategy officer. “Community is also very important to us and we felt that while we can't meet in person, it was a great idea to still highlight and enjoy forms of art and community virtually.”
In an announcement on the Comic-Con website, San Diego Comic Convention expressed that with the cancelation of their two largest events the company has limited financial resources. However, the company remains committed to the fans and they feel that the show must continue in some form.
"WonderCon@Home will be a two-day celebration instead of the usual three days as we continue to marshal our resources for Comic-Con this summer," Comic-Con International said in a statement.
Thalia Lizama is a San Diego Comic-Con volunteer, cosplayer and past attendee of WonderCon in Anaheim. Having attended the 2020 virtual WonderCon, she is looking forward to attending the online event this year.
"I was really impressed [last year]. I've never done an online thing before. It was really easy to follow and see which [programming] you are interested in," Lizama said.
Lizama plans on attending both days of the virtual event, but misses the in-person element.
"I did like looking at all the interesting cosplayers and how creative they could be," Lizama said.
This year’s programming schedule was released online on March 11. Each day currently has over 60 different programs to choose from.
Some panels on Friday March 26 are “AMC’s Creepshow,” “Learn How to Color Comics,” “Makeup Effects on a Budget,” “Indie Toy Makers Unite,” “The Psychology of Batman” and “Meet the Cast of Netflix’s Norsemen.”
On Saturday March 27 there will be panels like “AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead,” “How to Create Your Own Novel,” “Hulu & Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. Fan Q&A,” “The CW’s Charmed Season 3,” “Batwoman Cast and Producer Q&A,” and “Hip-Hop and Comics.”
This year there will be a WonderCon@Home Cosplay Masquerade streaming “live” on Tumblr on March 27. The masquerade will consist of photo and video entries of cosplayers in costume and will remain available for viewing for a short period online afterwards. Winners will be announced across WonderCon social media on March 28.
Another important element of the in-person conventions was the exclusive merchandise. Vendors will normally have convention-exclusive items available for purchase at the events. A part of the experience is waiting in lines to get a very exclusive product only available in small quantities on the weekend of the convention.
"I do typically get exclusives," Lizama said. "But last year their online listing was very small and lacking. I didn't buy anything for the first time."
This year’s merchandise will feature T-shirts, face masks, phone covers and more. The official WonderCon merchandise will be released to the public on March 17 on the online Merch Store. No official exhibitor list has been released for 2021.
With uncertainty on when conventions will resume in-person, fans have a few options to help support WonderCon and Comic-Con International.
“We hope fans will take part in WonderCon@Home as well as Comic-Con@Home in July. We are also scheduled to open the Comic-Con Museum this year,” Glanzer said. “This is a great undertaking and those who would like to support those efforts can visit Comic-Con Museum Support.”
While returning attendees like Lizama are trying to make the most of online events, she thinks WonderCon@Home is a good way for people who have never attended to experience the convention as well.
“Anyone who's never been to a comic convention but has been interested can look into this online event for free,” Lizama said, “It’s a good way for people to try it out.”