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wondercon 2008: a stench hotel soap isn't strong enough for

A few months ago J suggested that we attend a local comic book convention. Grand, hilarious scenes from Chasing Amy danced through my head as I agreed. I actually got excited about the prospect of going. I knew there would be a Browncoats booth in the Exhibit Hall; and I am a really big Firefly/Serenity fan. What was in store for me at Wondercon 2008 was a whole other world.

When people talk about comic book conventions (to the general public not educated about what happens when too many intense, super-nerds congregate together) they fail to mention some key elements a person like me might want to know before she buys her weekend pass:

5. When asked, do not try to help a regular attendee find anything.
Brand new to the event and seated at table, I was minding my own business - trying to make sense of the program book. A very Miton-ish guy (from Office Space) sat down, frowned at our programs, set down his wheeled milk carton stack and asked to borrow the program from some other person seated near us. He then proceeded to ask us about who was signing autographs. New to the scene but trying to be helpful, I gave him the page number where it listed the people and bios. He shouts at me that he KNEW where that was, but that the list wasn't detailed enough or that the people he was looking for were not in the program. That almost earned him a double-snap response, but being completely outnumbered by people just like him, I just looked down and kept my mouth shut. I was not going to endure another undeserved tongue-lashing. Frustrated that none of us had the right answer he left , but not before asking J where the bodice booth was located.

4. Try not to stare at the badly, scantily clad.
Some of the costumes were great, better than great - awesome, even. But SOME people needed to cover-up and stay that way. You know the saying "less is more?" Not necessarily. The Browncoats booth had a contest for a photo bingo. One of the squares was for "unfortunate fishnets." 'Nuff said.

3. Don't bother with the masquerade.
It sounded awesome. A costume masquerade? Very cool. Of the 35ish costumes (most, not all, of which were accompanied by horrific dances, skits or dramatizations) I only really understood about 5 of them. The rest I didn't get and I was jaw-droppingly shocked by what some people were willing to wear on a stage in front of peopleā€¦er...super nerds. If I were to ever subject myself to this event, again, I would skip the masquerade and head straight to the Thirsty Bear for the evening. Besides, you get a better view (albeit sometimes better than you want) of the costumes on the exhibit hall floor.

2. People take this seriously. VERY SERIOUSLY. Do NOT assume people are joking... like, ever.
On many occasions I tried to talk to people at the booths and they would say something that sounded a little crazy-nerd to me and I would laugh - assuming they were joking. They were not. "Oh, so you really WOULD sell your soul for that rare Punisher edition? OK, then..."

1. Do not forget your own body wash.
We stayed at a hotel near the Moscone Center. I forgot my Philosophy Amazing Grace body wash. It smells wonderful. Hotel soap? Not so much. One thing I did NOT expect was the stench of the convention. I am extremely sensitive to smell and this totally turned my stomach. The whole exhibit hall reeked like a dirty teenage boy's bedroom. I can only describe the smell as unwashed bodies and hair mixed with the kind of body odor that could have only been a result of sweaty asses from all the pleather outfits. As people entered and exited the hall, I could almost see waves of this putridness waft through the doors. Worse yet is that the smell stayed with me. BART train cars are a breath of fresh air compared to the convention's exhibit hall.

There were highlights. I certainly enjoyed Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, the WALL-E sneak peaks and all of the coming-soon movie trailers. The droid-making panel went right over my head (I know, shocking!), but I enjoyed watching the R2D2s roll around and scream afterwards. I did find some really impressive artwork. I especially enjoyed the Loter booth. And as much as I complained about some of the costumes above, there were a number of outstanding costumes (like the ones I have posted).

The big question: will I go to Wondercon 2009? Magic 8 Ball says: My sources say no.


At 3/04/2008 11:53 AM, Blogger Jesse and Melissa Left a note...

That was a pretty funny post Marla, reminds me of some of the conventions I used to attend.

It is really strange how people get when they take things a little too seriously, even when it's something that's supposed to be fun, whimsical and 'wonder'ous...

At 3/07/2008 9:16 PM, Blogger Jennifer Left a note...

Dude, the things you do for love.

I've never been to a full-fledged con on purpose. Some comic artists were in Middlebury when Rich came visit ages ago and we stopped in. That was the birth of the "Not that I'm bitter" phrase that took several school systems by storm (the artist had been through a bitter, bitter divorce).

A couple of years ago, Mike and I got stuck in Chicago with some friends and stayed at a hotel hosting a Stargate con. That? Was a riot.

To Justin: Excellent t-shirt.

At 8/19/2008 2:33 PM, Blogger Al Left a note...

I laughed to read your post and recognizing the hard truths of it. I was at WonderCon last year (and ComicCon in San Diego last month).

It's funny though, I think I enjoyed it for many of the reasons you didn't. I, of course could have done without the smell, and was disappointed in the Masquerade (seeing it once was plenty), but I really appreciate the seriousness with which some people take their hobby.

I try to have a sense of humor about everything, especially my own odd behavior, but it kind of makes me smile at conventions because I think for a lot of folks, this is the one place where they can "let there freak flag fly" so to speak. And I've had some terrific conversations with some very odd people at these things that make awesome stories to tell at parties!


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