WonderCon 2005

So my wife and I went to Wondercon at the Moscone Center yesterday and today. The main event for us was an hour long Serenity panel with Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion, Summer Glau and Adam Baldwin. We also got to see some clips of the new Hitchhiker’s Guide movie and the Japanese trailer for War of the Worlds. There was some boring stuff mixed in, like the lines, which there were many of, and the presentation for the movie The Cave, with star Cole Hauser. However, we also got rewarded for standing in lines, when we won a raffle to get Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s autographs!

Quick recap of what went down and when:

5:30ish Friday night: Arrived and checked in at Wondercon, spent around 30 minutes wandering the floor and exploring. We got to see Peter Mayhew live and in person. He walks like Chewbacca, and has a lot of hair. We also checked out the Northern California Browncoats booth, entered their raffle, and took a photo of the booth before the Saturday madness would begin. I snapped a quick photo of the Aeon Flux banner that was suspended from the ceiling and we ran off to our first panel.

6:00-7:00 Friday night: The Music of WB Animation: Scoring the “Mini Feature” with Lolita Ritmanis, Kristopher Carter and Michael McCuistion. It was an hour of clips and commentary with very little actual Q&A and a bit too much structure. Jon Burlingame, an LA based music critic moderated the panel, but it all seemed a bit scripted. It was a good panel to get our feet wet for what the rest of Wondercon would be like.

9:20AM Saturday morning: We arrive again at Moscone and enter line #1, which I’d estimate included around 300 people. Line #1 got so big that at approximately 9:40AM they let us all go downstairs and wait in one of the cavernous hallways.

10:00AM Saturday morning: The riots begin… or… um… actually the line went smoothly and we found ourselves journeying across the floor to the Comic-Con International booth to enter the autograph raffle. This leads us into Line #2.

We had the opportunity to win the following autographs:

Julian McMahon, Dr. Doom from The Fantastic Four
Joel Silver and Elisha Cuthbert, producer and star of House of Wax
Christian Bane, Batman from Batman Begins
Summer Glau, Nathan Fillion and Adam Baldwin, River, Mal and Jayne, Serenity
Joss Whedon and John Cassaday, Writer and Artist, Astonishing X-Men

I went first. I drew three duds, disappointed that I didn’t get the opportunity to have an autograph from Summer, Nathan and Adam. Then, the moment of truth. The person holding the raffle barrel flipped the tickets and I saw a winner land on top. I nonchalantly snatched the winning ticket and had the chance to meet and get an autograph from one of the most talented minds on the planet and an amazing comic book artist.

My wife drew a Christian Bale autograph winner. Came up short on the other four. As luck might have it though, the person behind her was happy to trade a Joss/John autograph winner for the Christian Bale winner.

We walked away with two yellow wristbands, which the people at the booth DEMANDED that we put on immediately, following my wife’s bartering.

10:30ish Saturday morning: We revisited the Browncoats booth, bought some patches and some Blue Sun temporary tattoos, grabbed some Serenity promo postcards and donated for the raffle drawing we had signed up for the previous night. My wife left her phone number, just in case someone wanted to trade a Joss/John bracelet for a Summer, Nathan and Adam one. We had no luck on that one. We then went to the giant screening/Q&A room and sat around a bit, waiting for the presentations to begin.

10:40ish: I got bored and went back to the main hall for a bit and bought a copy of Gifted, the first Astonishing X-Men graphic novel (Issues 1-6), and a copy of Astonishing #1 for Joss and John to sign for us. I returned to the screening/Q&A room triumphantly.

11:00ish: My wife went back out and got food. Pizza for herself, Pepsi and Roast Beef sandwich for me.

11:30: She got back, I ate a bit, then a few minutes later, one of the convention people came out to make some announcements. No cell phones, no videotaping of the screen (at which point someone came over to me and said “Hey, no videotaping” and I was like “Uh, I’m not taping the screen.” Someone else came over and was like “He can tape, just not the screen.” “Oh, nevermind.”) Finally, around ten minutes after it was supposed to start, the Hitchhiker’s presentation with producer Robbie Stamp began. He shared a lot of information about the movie, most of which was adapted from a script that author Douglas Adams himself wrote. We got to see a short making of clip, plus the online trailer (which is hilarious). It was a short presentation, but a great one. I’m definitely looking forward to this film, moreso than before.

12:00: The Cave presentation began, we proceeded to nod off.

12:30: The War of the Worlds presentation began with the Japanese trailer. It is just like the English one, but strangely enough, it is in Japanese. David Koepp and Doug Chang who worked on the effects in the film spoke about the movie, but didn’t really answer any questions. It was a fun half hour, but really, I think the whole place was just getting pumped for what was to follow. They closed with the American trailer mixed with some commentary and behind the scenes shots with Tom Cruise and Stephen Spielberg.

Then it happened:

1:00: Serenity.

Joss came out first and had an important announcement to make. He called a surprise guest to the stage. John Cassaday came up and they revealed… 12 more issues of Astonishing, followed by Giant Size Astonishing X-Men Annual #1. Joss alluded to a break they’d be taking between Issue 12 and Issue 13, but there wasn’t a timetable announced, just a hiatus.

His next announcement was the Serenity prequel comic miniseries by Dark Horse, which should hit stores this summer. The three issues will have a total of nine different variant covers, each one showcasing a different member of the Serenity crew, drawn by nine different artists, each of which was a favorite of Joss. John Cassaday’s cover will feature Malcolm Reynolds.

And on top of all of that, he’s also still working on a movie. Joss introduced three of his favorite people, Adam Baldwin, Summer Glau and Nathan Fillion. They showed a brief clip of footage from the film, then they answered some questions. Unfortunately, the line for questions stretched to the point where I couldn’t see them to film. So, I broke the first rule. I filmed the screen for most of the panel. Even that view was a bit obstructed, but I still have the audio.

It was a fun panel, as Whedonverse panels are. We went to the Slayercon in Oakland last year. It was a great time as well. Some brief info:

David Newman will be scoring the Serenity film.

Joss likes to film Summer’s feet.

Alan Tudyk called in and mentioned that his favorite scene that nate was in was “the nude one”.

The audience made the panel repeat lines from the show. “I’ll be in my bunk” and “You mudders are alright” by Adam and “I can kill you with my brain” by Summer.

No Angel or Buffy movies are being planned, however Joss got some nice lilies sent to him for Valentine’s Day by some fans that want a Spike movie. He said he wants one too, but he’s not sure what James Marsters’ schedule is like, and he doesn’t know if anyone else (ie. a tv network) wants one either.

Though he wants to still do Ripper, he didn’t sound hopeful that it would be made either.

Buffy was not based on Sailor Moon, Blake’s 7, Red Dwarf, Cowboy Bebop or some other anime… because… Joss hasn’t actually seen any of those shows. He did say that he loved them, and they were probably the best things he hasn’t ever seen before.

All of that was out of order and stuff, but it all happened.

2:00, the panel had to end. :(

The four of them stood there and it was a great moment. It made me wish we had been able to attend the Comic-Con with the entire cast last year, but this was still a great time.

2:10ish: we finally got out of the room. We raced to the main hall to get in line for autographs, to find… the autographs weren’t until 4:30.

2:30: We attended the ADV Films anime presentation with VP of production Matt Greenfield. He talked a lot about Video on Demand and how it is the future. Not much that really interested us, but we got some cool anime dvds and an antenna ball for free. Can’t complain about the swag.

3:30: John Cassaday presentation with Jeff Mariotte. John talked a lot about Joss and how great it was to work with him. He talked about Astonishing X-Men as well as his other work on Planetary, Desperadoes, some crazy anthology that was his first work that he was happy that he quit doing before it got to a really gross scene involving a guy choking a girl to death with an unnamed but adult oriented body part, Captain America, I Am Legion and several other things. He also alluded to the hiatus between Issues 12 and 13 of Astonishing. It was a good hour, but then both John and my wife and I had to get to John’s other engagement. (What was really nice was, at this point, John stayed behind for a few minutes and signed autographs for the fans that were shut out but attended his panel. It was a really nice gesture.)

4:30: AUTOGRAPH LINE MAYHEM. Line #3 for the day begins (I guess it was really Line #3,4 & 5 because there were three lines of people waiting). We were in the third line of people in line for Joss/John autographs. One of the volunteers said too many were in line and we were probably not going to get autographs. That would have been complete bullshit, because we WON OUR WRISTBANDS and there were only 200 of them. Alas…

5:05: We got Astonishing #1 and Gifted signed by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday. We also got some cool promotional miniposters of the Serenity cast, unsigned, but very cool. My wife mentioned that she planned to see Serenity like a billion times. John said “Joss, that means you just made $10,000,000,000 guaranteed. You’d better start filming the sequel.” I played a bit off of that when I had my issue signed, saying that I hoped Joss had time to work on the second film’s script, congratulated the two of them, wished them luck with the rest of X-Men, thanked both of them and we were on our way.

On the way out, my wife and I snatched up some Serenity buttons from the freebie table. We had collected around 8 or 9 throughout the day from various areas at the Con.

We stopped back at the Browncoats table a couple of other times throughout the day as well.

5:20ish: We arrived at the Northern California Browncoats meeting in room 113. They had just started playing Objects in Space with Joss Whedon commentary (It wasn’t live commentary, it was from the DVD). Around 40 minutes later came the “Pause that quick, Joss is on his way in.” Joss and John arrived and Joss thanked everyone in the room for their support and said he couldn’t stay and just wanted to say hi. He did the honor of drawing three winners for the raffle, then Joss and John said their goodbyes and left. It was really great to see how much he appreciates his fans. They then pulled names for three t-shirts that Alan Tudyk had donated to the cause (that was what that phone call was about during the panel). We didn’t win anything, but it was still a good time.

6:20: We went back to the main floor, picked up copies of each of the Astonishing X-Men issues and headed back to the BART train to go home.

It was raining and I was scared everything would be ruined. The only casualty seems to be a small Serenity sticker the Browncoats table was giving away. Otherwise, everything made it home safely.

It was a great time.

My advice to anyone that sat through all of that: GO SEE SERENITY ON 9-30-05.

(Wow that took an hour to write… also, the new Nine Inch Nails song, The Hand That Feeds leaked to possibly one or two radio stations. There is a really funny cover of it available at http://www.thehumanlobster.com That is all.)

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