Without A Net

Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Why WonderCon is the best pop culture convention and you should all be there

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Everyone talks about San Diego Comic-Con International, the ultimate spectacle in pop culture extravagance where devotees of all kinds can let their fan flags fly. Well this weekend is WonderCon, making its Anaheim debut due to construction at its San Francisco home, and you should get in on this while you still can.

It's run by the same organizers who put together Comic-Con, and while there is slightly less to do, there's still plenty to pack the weekend (as you can see on the official schedule) and it's still star-studded. It has the rep as being what Comic-Con used to be before it became impossible to get tickets, overcrowded and overrun by Hollywood, though you'll still find at least a bit of Hollywood encroachment.

I'll be there all weekend, tweeting the experience at @MikeRoe and @WithoutABlog. Until then, come with me as we tour some of the highlights of the convention:

Friday, March 16

3:45 p.m. — 21 Jump Street: On the same day it opens, stars Channing Tatum and the Oscar-nominated Jonah Hill will be hyping their comedic take on the late '80s police procedural.

5:30 p.m. — Nerdist Industries Live!: A personal hero of mine, Mr. Chris Hardwick will be hosting a panel hyping up his new Nerdist Channel on YouTube (which debuts April 2), as well as the 30,000 other jobs he does, like hosting AMC's post-"Walking Dead" talk show, hosting specials on BBC AMerica, running the local comedy venue at Meltdown Comics and more.

6:30 p.m. — World Premiere: Superman vs. The Elite: You'll have to wait until 2013 to get the new live action Superman movie where Superman is played by an English guy (yup, that's happening), but you can tide yourself over with the latest in DC's excellent run of direct-to-DVD animated superhero movies.

Saturday, March 17

11 a.m. — Cartoon Network: Adventure Time: There will be a panel on the network's latest cult hit, "Regular Show," on Friday, but the legions of "Adventure Time" fans can get their fix Saturday at this panel with the masterminds behind the wonderfully weird show.

11 a.m. — Womanthology: A fascinating project, "Womanthology" is another in the long line of Kickstarter success stories, with fans funding a comic book teaming up amateur lady comic creators with lady pros to create a girl-powered anthology series, with profits going to charity. Those creators will be at WonderCon to tell their story.

11:30 a.m. — Batman vs. Iron Man: Can Biology Best Technology?: As part of the Comics Arts Conference series at WonderCOn with experts offering a more academic perspective on comics throughout the weekend, this one looks at the battle between man and machine and answers one of the million childhood imaginary battles that took place in every comic reader's mind.

1:15 p.m. — 20th Century Fox: Prometheus and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter... in 3D: New "Alien" movie prequel and historical vampire fiction book-turned-movie, plus three dimensions? Um, yes please.

2 p.m. — Geek & Sundry: "Guild" star/geek goddess Felicia Day, along with fellow geek hero Wil Wheaton, will be previewing Felicia's new YouTube channel Geek & Sundry.

2:30 p.m. — Universal Pictures: Battleship and Snow White and the Huntsman: The game Battleship is becoming a movie, and you can find all about it here! And there are also multiple Snow White movies. This is the Charlize Theron/Kristen Stewart one.

3 p.m. — Cartoon Voices: Always one of my favorite panels, voice director Mark Evanier brings together voice acting superstars and lets them do their thing in public for once, as well as having them do a cold read of a script in as many wacky voices as possible. Not to be missed.

4:15 p.m. — Sony: Resident Evil: Retribution, Looper, Amazing Spider-Man: Come see stars like Emma Stone, Milla Jovovich and my personal hero, Mr. Joseph Gordon-Levitt hype their respective films.

7 p.m. — Tournament of Nerds!: An Upright Citizens Brigade show hitting the road, offering comedians debating over which respective pop culture icon is better. Previous champions have run the gamut from legitimate comic characters to Justin Bieber. Yes, Justin Bieber.

8:30 p.m. — WonderCon Masquerade: You'll see people in costumes throughout the convention, but if you want to see them all in one place and putting on choreographed presentations (yes, this happens), this is the place to do it.

Sunday, March 18

12 p.m. — Alcatraz Special Video Presentation and Q&A: So, this may just be filled with "Lost" fans who want to meet Hurley, but many of the show's other stars will be there as well.

1 p.m. — Fringe Special Video Presentation and Q&A: Continuing a day of TV at WonderCon, the cast of "Fringe" will be in full effect. I may just want to get close to Pacey from "Dawson's Creek." (I may also have my back show up in a shot in last year's Pacey-Con video from Funny Or Die.)

2 p.m. — Once Upon A Time: Nobody watches "Grimm," because this is better. The show's creators are screening a brand new episode of the show (that seems a little bit like the comic book "Fables" that came before, but let's not talk about that).

3 p.m. — Community: "Community" is back on the airwaves, and you can go celebrate with other rabid fans of the Greendale gang here. This is the one panel over the weekend I'm worried about getting into, and I will not be held responsible for what I do to secure a seat. (I promise not to stab anyone with a pencil.)

4 p.m. — Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: I will be in the crowd for this. I will be singing. I will try not to hurt your ears with my joy at Joss Whedon's musical masterpiece.

Whew! So, stay tuned for tweets and blogs about the convention this weekend. See you there, and tweet me and let me know if I'm missing anything you think I shouldn't be missing.

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