Tag Archives: Cons

WonderCon 2015 Round-Up

Big Hero 6As of last weekend, I’ve been to more WonderCons in Anaheim than San Francisco, and more with a kid in tow than without. And I’m finally at the point where I’m no longer comparing the current incarnation of the con to the previous one, and just taking it on its own terms.

Here at Speed Force, we covered Flash cosplay and the Flash TV show cast Q&A earlier in the week. My full photo gallery is on Flickr. It took a whole week, but I finally put together my write-up of the con over at K-Squared Ramblings.

Enjoy!

Flash Photography: Long Beach Comic Con 2014

Double-Flash Photography Captain Cold (New 52)

I didn’t see a whole lot of Flash costumes at Long Beach Comic-Con last weekend — which was kind of surprising, seeing as how the TV show starts Tuesday! — but I did spot the Golden Age Flash couple who made a splash at SDCC, and a New 52-style Captain Cold. (Also: two or three Elsas and at least one Jack Frost. I hope they all ran into each other at some point.)

I also got to visit the S.T.A.R. Labs Mobile Research Unit promoting the TV show, which was fun, both for the exhibits and for the Allen case bulletin board. Check out Monday’s article for photos and a writeup of the exhibit.

Finally, Norm Rapmund was selling these prints by Brett Booth and himself, featuring the major players in the current story arc. He was selling a limited edition (as in 25 copies!) of the uncolored image, and I was tempted. It looked really striking in black and white as well, but it was also twice as much, and I liked the way the present/future Barrys split the image into red and blue.

Head over to K-Squared Ramblings for my full con writeup and photos!

Norm Rapmund will be right back

Touring the Flash’s S.T.A.R. Labs Mobile Unit at Long Beach Comic Con

One of the attractions at this year’s Long Beach Comic Con [see my LBCC article at K2R] was the S.T.A.R. Laboratories Mobile Research Unit, a traveling exhibit promoting the upcoming Flash TV Show with vaguely scientific exhibits relating to super-speed.

STAR Labs truck

Overnight, they drove a truck onto the convention floor and took over most of the Laser Tag arena from the day before. Pods opened to the side like a vacation trailer. Two TVs ran the trailer for the show on repeat, between them a bulletin board…well, we’ll get to that.

Waiting for STAR Labs

The wait was about 30-45 minutes when I got there shortly after the floor opened, but it put us right next to a booth for a scooter company (there’s always one or two sponsors that I just can’t quite see the connection to comics). Their reps were going up and down the line trying to get people to sign up for their sweepstakes/mailing list. The one I talked to had no idea what everyone was waiting in line for, just that it was a good chance to sign people up.

They let in about 5-7 people at a time, giving each of us a card with the show logo on one side and a sticker with a unique bar code on the back. Each exhibit was triggered by scanning the bar code, results or video available at starlabsresearch.com.

On the Inside

STAR Labs falling waterThe first I saw on stepping in was a dripping faucet, lit by a strobe light and timed so that it looked like the water droplets were falling incredibly slowly. (You can do really fun things by hooking up a hose to a speaker and timing the sound with the camera’s shutter speed. Be sure to check out that video sometime.)

Next up was speed reading. One way of reading faster is to cut out all the eye movement: Instead of sweeping your view across a page, an app flashes words at you one at a time. You can read really fast, though if you get distracted, you’re completely lost (and some studies suggest it’s not great for comprehension). So they took a bunch of monitors, loaded up parts of the Flash’s backstory, and set each to run at 200 words per minute, 400, 600, all the way up to 1200 words per minute. I managed to at least catch the gist of Barry’s history with Iris at about 800 WPM, but faster than that I couldn’t follow at all.

Inside the STAR Labs Mobile Unit

I got the impression that they were still figuring out the exhibits a bit. One that didn’t quite come together was moving around in front of a camera, and waiting for it to process the video. I never saw the result, and they said it would be available online afterward, but I just see a blank space on the website.

One that just seemed out of place was a chance to watch your pupils contract in response to bright light. OK, it happens fast, and they had some writeup on how metahumans’ pupils react faster than normal, but I wonder if they were out of ideas and someone made a pun on “Iris.”

Test Your Reflexes

STAR Labs strike speedThe most fun parts involved testing your reflexes. One was sort of a radial Missile Command game: Lines would move out from the center indicating an “Attack” and you had to hit the button corresponding to that sector. [Edit: Mashable’s right: it was more like Tempest.] It was harder than a similar game I’d played at an arcade once, which was more like a vertical whack-a-mole, because you couldn’t just strike where you saw the light, you had to trace it outward and hit the right button.

The highlight was trying to dodge or catch a nerf bullet, fired by your friend if you had one with you or one of the attendants if not. Well, it was more like a nerf arrow. I’m sure they had their reasons. And no one managed to dodge or block it while I was in there.

There was supposed to be video on that too, but as with the slow-mo, only a blank square shows up on my results page.

STAR Labs hand tap resultsFinally, next to the exit, was a chance to see how fast you could vibrate your hand, repeatedly tapping a metal plate on the table. Supposedly I did better than 89% of people who had tried it so far. Not bad.

They didn’t rush us while we were inside, so we all got to try out everything before leaving. That was nice, and in keeping with the easy-going feel of the convention.

Bulletin

Oh, I mentioned a bulletin board outside. It was covered with newspaper clippings, photographs, police reports, letters, receipts, and string connecting them all. The case: The murder of Nora Allen, and the framing of her husband. Barry Allen has been working this case for a looong time. Click through to Flickr to download the full-resolution version, or check out my full set of LBCC photos.

Case Board: Nora Allen

The Flash TV series launches on CW on October 7 (but if you’re a regular reader, you already knew that). The S.T.A.R. Labs Mobile Research Unit will be traveling around Los Angeles until then.

WonderCon Wants to Go Home

San Francisco StormtrooperPublisher’s Weekly reports that WonderCon still wants to return to the Bay Area, but that the limiting factor is scheduling.

  1. A convention needs additional days at the convention center to set up and tear down the event. So for a 3-day weekend event, they need to be in Wednesday or Thursday through Monday.
  2. They’ve been trying to avoid conflicting with other big comic conventions, specifically C2E2 in Chicago and Emerald City in Seattle. I remember one year they were the same weekend as MegaCon, but it was all the way on the East coast, so the two events were drawing from a different pool of guests and attendees.

With Moscone basically the only convention center in the area that’s big enough, their options are limited.

WonderCon’s last year (so far) in San Francisco was 2011. C2E2 launched in 2010, and grew to 41,000 attendees in 2012 and 50,000. Emerald City has been around for a decade, but expanded dramatically over the last few years, jumping from 13,000 attendees in 2009 to 32,000 in 2011. This year, all three cons* were in the 53-56K range.

The other shows’ explosion in size coincides with WonderCon’s move out of San Francisco. Both shows were already growing before WonderCon moved to Anaheim, so while I’m sure some former regulars decided to go to Emerald City instead, I doubt it accounts for the bulk of the growth. It makes me wonder (no pun intended) whether WonderCon might be facing similar scheduling conflicts even if it had stayed in San Francisco back in 2012.

If they do have to go up against another high-profile convention, it’s going to be one of those damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situations. My feeling is they’d be better off scheduling for the same weekend as C2E2, since Chicago’s three times the distance and two time zones away. Sure, it could be seen as a proxy battle between the NYCC and SDCC juggernauts, but it would play better than looking like they’re stepping on the little guy.

Cross-posted at K-Squared Ramblings

*I couldn’t find figures for ECCC 2013, but Wikipedia cites 53K in 2012, and they’ve been growing every year. C2E2 2013 was 53K, and WonderCon’s site cites 56K for 2013.

Flash Fact: Long Beach Comic & Horror Con 2013

Mark Waid at LBCHC 2013I spent Saturday at Long Beach Comic and Horror Con, which despite its name is still, five years on, one of the most comics-focused “comic con” events I’ve been to. Among other things, I caught the Young Justice Voice Acting panel with a dozen cast members and Greg Weisman, a discussion panel between Marv Wolfman and Scott Lobdell and a spotlight on Mark Waid (see photo). Wolfman and Waid are always fascinating, and Lobdell turned out to be really interesting as well. Brian Buccellato was supposed to be there as well, but I never saw him. Artist’s Alley was huge, though, and I never quite managed to do the full systematic pass that I intended, so it’s entirely possible that all my trips through the area missed him.

Some interesting Flash-related bits:

Jason Spisak, when asked about getting into his character, remarked that Wally West’s lines in the script always look like he’s a “total douche,” but what he had to do was think: His friends keep him around. There’s got to be something endearing to him that they want to have around. He’d find that and make it come through in his acting.

Speaking of Young Justice, the game studio that did Young Justice: Legacy still has the license. If the game does well enough, they’d like to do a sequel…set during what would have been season three.

Young Justice Cast at LBCHC 2013
Mark Waid, when asked what story felt like he’d finally made it, said “The Return of Barry Allen.” That’s interesting, since the story was about Wally West reaching the point where he felt like he’d finally made it. He also said that his record at making good cliffhangers is due to the fact that he writes them before figuring out how the character’s going to get out (which makes for a few stressful days at the beginning of the next script). If he doesn’t know how, the audience isn’t going to guess!

Scott Lobdell compares the New 52 Kid Flash’s personality to Woody Woodpecker.

Check out my full write-up at K-Squared Ramblings or go straight to the photos.