Wondercon 2023 Shows a Slow Start to Conventions

Coming on the cusp of WGA strike talks, Wondercon felt a bit quieter this year compared to 2022. Although the usual artists and local congoers were present, the exhibition hall was visibly emptier. Similar to last year, large publishers and panels featuring high profile celebrities were absent. One of the reasons could be DC Comics current tumultuous parent company handoff between Warner Bros. and  Discovery has left the publisher in limbo. Despite talks of a lofty restart to the DC cinematic universe, it might be a tad jarring for both fans and creative executives alike.

A welcome trend continuing from last year is the prominence of anime and Japanese pop culture. Although none of the manga publishers were on the show floor, toy licensor Bandai showed off the many franchises under its belt including Ultra Man, Demon Slayer, and Spy x Family. Comic fans could browse and peruse the intricate details behind the scaled figures and props. Smaller publishers and vendors had even more room than usual with the absence of industry giants.

Knights of the Zodiac, the Sony produced Hollywood reimagination of the famous Japanese franchise, turned the most heads at the Saint Seiya & Knights of the Zodiac 101 panel. Originally teased at San Diego Comic Con 2023, the Wondercon 2024 panel featured most of the main cast who were eager to promote their upcoming film. Long time fans and cosplayers alike showed up in full regalia, waiting to hear how this movie might potentially open new doors for the franchise.

Even though the last reported official attendance number for Wondercon was in 2016, the 60,000+ attendees may have finally plateaued. There’s clearly a continued hunger for such an event from comic book and anime fans alike, however, the entertainment industry continues to hold back on participating in fan focused events early in the year. Hopefully Wondercon 2024 will hold more promise.

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Kalai Chik

Pop culture writer focusing on animation, music, and games. Los Angeles native, USC alumni, and contributor for Asia Pacific Arts since 2015. Follow me on Twitter, @kalai_chik.

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