WonderCon: My “4 Highlights” List

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Southern California got a taste of WonderCon for three days last week, while its usual venue, San Francisco’s Moscone Center, is being spruced up. Those who expected another San Diego Comic-Con will have wondered where the monstrous comics, film, and toy company display booths and crushing crowds were. But this one’s on a more human scale, like the annual con in Long Beach.

I ventured down to Orange County’s Anaheim Convention Center, just across the street from the land of Disney, to see what Comic-Con, Jr. had to offer graphic designers. Here’s the first of my two-part report.

Exclusive illustrations for Imprint [above/below] are by Scott Gandell, who was manning the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles booth at WonderCon. Photos by M. Dooley.

— #4 —

Best Cover Stories:

“The Art of the Cover”

Arthur Adams, Michael Golden, Mike Mignola, Eric Powell, Fiona Staples, and a post-session Fiona in Artists' Alley.

Even as the medium continues its transition to digital devices, covers still play a crucial role. And at one of WonderCon’s more lively and entertaining programs, each of five comics artists were confronted with several of their covers – the good, bad, and even ugly – and either boasted or apologized.

There was some shop talk and bitching about heavy-handed editors and such. But mostly it was a freeform exchange on how to create compelling illustrations.


— #3 —

Best Shrink Rap (tie):

“Detecting Deviants in the Dark Knight: Profiling Gotham City’s Serial Killers” and “What’s the Matter with Batman?”

There was not one but two panels devoted to investigating just how deranged are Batman’s villains… and the Dark Knight himself. For the first session, three forensic psychiatrists examined the Joker and other such culprits for psychotic and psychopathic behaviors, and a retired FBI agent explained how to profile and arrest such serial murderers. During the second program, two psychologists explored whether young Bruce Wayne, having witnessed his parents’ killings, grew up with Post Traumatic Stress and other disorders. They also analyzed the brooding caped crusader’s issues with women.

These speakers illustrated their talks with slides. And yes, they were aware that the characters they were closely scrutinizing aren’t real, but just narrative pictures printed on paper.


— #2 —

Best Movie Celeb:

Marli Renfro

WonderCon’s screen luminaries didn’t shine as bright as Comic-Con’s: booths of bit players from Star Trek and such mostly sat around selling photos and signing autographs. Remember Donna Loren, 1960s Beach Blanket series songstress? Okay, Larry Thomas, Seinfeld‘s “soup nazi”? How about Marli Renfro?

You may not know her name, but you’ve seen her on screen… naked. Marli’s was Janet Leigh’s body double in that scene from that film… you know. If it wasn’t Janet’s face, you’re looking at Marli. We chatted about her career – she was a Playboy bunny and a free spirited men’s mag nude model who wasn’t shy about showing skin for the camera – and her time with Hitchcock – she didn’t meet Saul Bass or see his storyboards, but she was paid $500 for her work.


— #1 —

Best Book Debut:


Cover artist Renae De Liz.

Writer Laura Morley.

Writer Barbara Randall Kesel.

Among the announcements at WonderCon was that IDW Publishing is launching a series titled “Womanthology,” based on the newly released Womanthology: Heroic. Heroic is a hardcover that grew from a concept by artist Renae De Liz and financed by Kickstarter. It includes over 250 pages of stories by more than 140 creators, with an additional 50-plus pages devoted to works by kids and teens, lessons in creating comics, interviews with pros, and histories of women artists authored by Trina Robbins and Colleen Doran.

The series is meant to spotlight the work of female comics creators and, De Liz says, “further open doors for women in comics everywhere. I hope this will be a continued outlet to have their work showcased and appreciated, and help many take that next big step towards a career in comics.” The first five-issue miniseries, Womanthology: Space, will debut in September, and is being produced entirely by women.

More Design Resources:

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