WonderCon 2024

WonderCon 2024: A Blerd Experience

It is con season! This past weekend I went to WonderCon for the first time ever and to be honest, I didn’t know what to expect but my subconscious expectations were surpassed. I met some amazing people, saw some awesome cosplays and sat in on a few panels. And I just wanted to give you all my breakdown from a blerd perspective. WonderCon 2024 was definitely a unique experience especially as a blerd! 

Cons of WonderCon

Now, I didn’t have too many things to complain about when it came to the con itself. It was in Anaheim and it was at the Anaheim Convention Center which is DIRECTLY across from Disney. So I thought that was actually pretty cool. In fact, several cosplayers went across the street once they had their fill of the con to get on rides and what not. But what was less cool was the parking. It was almost a nightmare, mainly because they didn’t tell you WHERE you could park. They only had giant lit up signs telling you what street to turn down but there was no indicated parking like at other cons I’ve either been to or seen. 

Also with the parking, they had security and police directing traffic who didn’t seem to know right from left. When we finally asked where we could park, the officer could only GUESS we could park in the hotel parking garage. We were able to park there and it was literally $45. Basically insane, but I was prepared to pay about that much for parking, in the high range. If you had the app, they showed you some of the parking but of course you had elderly people and not good directions to indicate if a lot was full or not. 

The second issue I had was probably more of a personal reason but I think some people will agree. CBR hosted the panels and they were honestly awful at it. One of the hosts had such a thick, seemingly Australian accent and it was very hard to understand his questions, his “jokes” and his comments. The second host for the next panel was truly only excited that he got to cuss in front of a group of people. Every other word in his “jokes” was a cuss word of some variation and it wasn’t funny. It was honestly up to the cast at both panels to try to make up for how awkward the hosts were. 

And my absolute last gripe, not as many black cosplayers as I thought. Now, don’t get me wrong there were a lot of black people there. More than I thought would be, but more than half were just normally dressed. The ones who did cosplay did amazing. They even had a black cosplayer meetup in front of the WonderCon picture wall and made videos which was very cool. But for as many people at the con, I definitely expected more black cosplayers. It didn’t take too much away from the blerd experience of WonderCon but it didn’t particularly add to it either. 

Amazing Creators

So next up is what happened on the Exhibitor floor. Firstly, it was extremely fun meeting different artists, writers and just creators in general but I wanted to highlight some people in particular. First up, James F. Wright. He’s LA based and a 2x Eisner Award winning writer. He loves to read and eat ramen. We had a great conversation surrounding his work. One book he helped IDW with and it was a Godzilla story which was great timing for the new Godzilla x Kong movie that came out the same day. I ended up purchasing one of his other works called Sharp Notes. It is an apocrypha about Chevalier de Saint-Georges who was a french violinist in the late 1700s. 

The story surrounds a sword fight he once had which sits in the background of a stream of sheet music that Chevalier allegedly wrote. It was supposed to be his lost final masterpiece. I’m definitely going to get my violin tuned to see if I can play the music. It’s not in a particular order but I think I can manage! 

The next person I met was Gerimi Burleigh (pronounced Jeremy) who is a writer, artist and graphic designer. He co-created the animated series Alien Racers for MGA and co-wrote a 90-minute special for Cartoon Network before self-publishing his first graphic novel in 2009 called Eye of the Gods. He also has a comic series called Morningstar which is about Lucifer’s fall from Heaven told as a Western. 

I purchased Eye of the Gods which is about an artist named Sean Black, who has to have a surgery to restore his failing eyesight and he is plagued by visions of secrets he was never meant to discover including that of a murder! Speaking to him was enjoyable as he is very relatable and you can tell that he is definitely going to be a future staple in the blerd community. Plus I got a free sketchbook of Morningstar that I am super excited about! 

Next up, while searching for food, I met Kayden Phoenix who is the creator of a book called Pimp Killer. When I walked up to the table I was IMMEDIATELY interested in the book simply because of the title and Kayden happily said “It’s exactly what you think it is.” Which not only made me laugh but I was 100% invested in purchasing the book. In talking to Kayden, she mentioned not only being a woman of color but also part of the LGBTQ+ community as well and how it can be difficult in this nerd community as a writer. The conversation was brief and informative and I can’t wait to get into her other work like Alora, Witch Princess and Bandita, Dominican Superhero! All her work is not only female led but also stars someone of color as the main character. Definitely check her out if you haven’t! 

On Sunday I had 2 missions specifically. Go to the Lionsgate booth and go see Antoine Bandele and the Stranger Comics crew. I succeeded in both. While visiting with Antoine he was in the middle of getting the third TJ Young and the Orishas book on paper. If you don’t already know, Antoine is an Amazon bestselling author in action, adventure, fantasy, dark fantasy, sword & sorcery, african american fantasy, and african literature. We met once before at LA Comic Con last year and he also joined as a guest on a YouTube Channel show I am also a part of called Tap’n No Cap’n. Our conversation was more about catching up but we also talked about some of his new work. I purchased the Orishas Among Mortals: Collection 1. It’s first in the series and it poses the question What happens when deities need help? I can’t wait to dig into this story, especially since it follows after the work he’s done on TJ Young and the Orishas! If you haven’t checked out any of his work, please do! 

 Last but certainly not least, I stopped by the Stranger Comics booth and met not only with the crew but the owner and creator of Stranger Comics Sebastian A Jones. He recognized me immediately because we had corresponded over Tik Tok about his new releases. We got some pictures and talked for a bit. But I was in a time crunch as it was Easter and my mother said dinner was at 4. The titular character created by Sebastian is Niobe who is Half Elf and Half Wild Elf granted the ability to heal minor wounds and ailments ready to face her destiny in full force. Sebastian and the rest of the Stranger crew were amazing and fun as usual and it was great to see them again! They have some new work coming out from kickstarter campaigns and I was also able to get some free books to start reading for review! 

All of the creators were amazing and it was great seeing those I’ve seen before and meeting new creators and they made the blerd experience of WonderCon amazing. It definitely showcased not only amazing black talent but the talent of other people of color with stories to tell who needed an audience to tell them to. 

Intense Panels

There were several panels for this con but I went to 2 in particular. I am a Bill Skarsgard fan so when I was handed the flier for a panel for his new movie, Boy Kills World, I was of course rather excited. Of course, Bill wasn’t there so it was just the remainder of the cast who aren’t without their merits. On the panel itself was the director Moritz Mohr and then Famke Jensen aka Jean Grey which was interesting since she and Bill were in Hemlock Grove together. Isaiah Mustafa or the Old Spice Guy but also worked with Bill in IT: Chapter 1 and Chapter 2. And also Jessica Rothe from Happy Death Day 1 and 2. 

The cast seems great but the movie itself seems a bit all over the place. The trailer was like a mix of Hardcore Henry, John Wick and Scott Pilgrim but apparently according to the host from CBR, we’ve never seen anything like this before. The panel itself was pretty plain. The CBR host just asked random questions without trying to spoil anything but his accent was so thick, producer Sam Raimi had to ask for clarification on a question just to give a very plain and boring answer that didn’t seem to answer the question. Mainly because I don’t think anyone understood the question. Overall, this panel was only okay, not great and they didn’t really take as many audience questions as they could have. Just for note, CBR as a host was terrible. 

The next panel though! So the next panel ran immediately after and it was for The Strangers: Chapter 1. Lionsgate sent out a text to let us know that the strangers would be in attendance and in attendance they were. Menacingly walking through the audience, and creepily hovering over random people when the lights went out. They even sat in the corner of the room, in the back rows and all three would look over simultaneously, periodically through the panel. 

The movie stars Madeline Petsch who plays the fiery Cheryl Blossom from Riverdale and Froy Gutierrez who played Nolan in Teen Wolf for about 8 episodes. The thing I loved about this panel is that this cast was not afraid to get to the nitty gritty. They showed some exclusive clips which were amazing but they talked about filming all 3 movies at once in a span of 52 days which was insane to hear! Madie was amazing and seemed like a natural answering questions and it was also great to hear that she is a producer on the film as well. All three movies are set to be released this year, and they are going to answer some truly burning questions. The only thing that was not likable about this panel was the CBR host. He only wanted to cuss the whole time and didn’t have anything to contribute.  

Happiness Concluded

This was a fun experience overall. One of the best parts of this was sharing this experience with my dad. It was his first con ever and he did enjoy himself. He got to meet one of his favorite comic artists Norm Rapmund and yes, I did trick him into taking a picture. Me and my dad enjoyed the Strangers panel, the Boy Kills World panel was okay, we more or less had fun laughing at how it was hosted. Star Wars and surprisingly enough, Hazbin Hotel were the winning cosplays as most people focused on either one of those. It really was a fun experience especially since I’ve never been before. The only thing I could say is that I do wish there were some blerd-centric activities with more black creators around. Not saying it’s the fault of the con but it would just be fun as a blerd to actually have something like that to be drawn to. And to be honest it could mean more blerds showing up at this particular con. 

At the end of the day it was still a fun 3-day con which I feel is just a mini SDCC. The panels in their entirety and not just the ones we went to were well laid out and fun according to other attendees I got to speak with. The booth holders on the exhibitor floor were not only professional but were comfortable enough to step out of their shell and not only have fun with their current fans but develop new relationships and conversations with new and future fans. Can’t wait for the next con this year! Next on the list is Lvl Up in Las Vegas. If you’re going, see you there! 

Dr. K the Anime Bae 

@KaoriAkari (Tik Tok)
@Witchblade22 (IG)

@TheComicDoctorsOffice (Youtube)

Kaori Akari Nelson (FB)

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