WonderCon is the "convention of Comic Book" arts, or so www.wondercon.com says. In reality, it's sort of a generic (genre-ic?) fan con. Programming includes anime as well as role-playing games and new sf movie trailers; guests include comic book artists, novelists, and actors.

The 2001 convention was held April 20-22 in Oakland, CA, coincidentally extremely close to where the Matrix II and III were recently being filmed. Guests this year included Geoff Darrow, David Mack, Sergio Aragones, Julie Newmar, Frank Cho, Mario Hernandez, newly-minted Pulitzer-winner Michael Chabon, and a lot of other people. (Including some Playboy Playmates. I have no comment on this, except to say that they were truly, truly nauseating to look at in person.)

Wondercon has been around since 1986, which is no small feat for a convention. Prices remain reasonable for a major con, and it has an intimate feel. Friday is a very good time to go, as many of the attending luminaries will have few to no fans clinging to their tables, while on Saturday you may not be able to even see the guest because of the 10-thick layer of fans. Panels, including portfolio critque and such, are varied and interesting.

Also, it has an unusually good location in downtown Oakland, so finding non-hotel-food isn't the adventure that it usually is at cons. The slightly more determined can even walk to Chinatown or Jack London Square, or catch the bus to those places and many more. Oakland is a good (and less expensive) base for visiting San Francisco and Berkeley, so it's a good destination con as well.

Highly recommended.

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