WonderCon@Home 2021: Panels for a Variety of Fandoms and Interests

WonderCon@Home 2021 wrapped today, and even though we all hoped we could attend in person this year, alas, it’s not yet to be. Perhaps next year? Until then, we have to make do with what we got, which was a scaled-down 2-day event consisting of a wide variety of prerecorded panels, watch parties, anime, and roleplaying events. Before it began (WonderCon ran from Friday, March 26 and Saturday, March 27. Sunday only held gaming events), I perused the Complete Programming Schedule to choose which panels I wanted to watch (I’ll go back and watch more at a later date). The following is a summary of my thoughts and what stood out to me. Read on!

Considering my background and my interest in writing, most of the panels I watched were writing-related or adjacent to writing somehow. Sorry, I can’t help myself—always the student. I broke down my watch list into two categories (Writing and Everything Else), and I posted links to everything so you’ll have easy access to whatever you want to watch. Okay, let’s start.

Writing Panels

Creating Comic Books

The Jack Kirby Tribute panel was interesting because it dived into who Jack Kirby was as a person and not just his art. The panel was hosted by Mark Evanier (Kirby: King of Comics), TV host and mega-Kirby fan Jonathan Ross, and author Neil Gaiman (American Gods, Sandman). Evanier attended panels with Kirby as an assistant and knew Kirby as well as anyone.


Learn How to Color Comics, hosted by Hi-Fi’s Brian Miller (The Flash) and Dr. Kristy Miller (Femme Magnifique), demonstrated the process of how to color comics with Adobe Photoshop – so intriguing.


Rise of the Latina Superhero was a fun, eye-opening panel that discussed Latina superheroes’ expanding universe in film and media. Hosted by Nelly Castillo (co-founder/exec producer, Vendetta Entertainment), the panel also included Kayden Phoenix (writer/creator, Jalisco: Latina Superhero, Santa: SJW Latina Superhero), Barbra Dillon (Quince, founder of Fanbase Press), Amanda Julina Gonzalez (illustrator, Jalisco: Latina Superhero,Ruca: Latina Superhero), Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez (writer/creator, La Boriqueña), and Ralph Henriquez (writer/creator, Fuerza).


Image Comics is my go-to publisher when I want unparalleled writing and jaw-dropping art. So I had to check out Image Comics: Bestselling Writers and their Comics Storytelling Techniques. This panel included two of my favorite comic book writers, Scott Snyder (Wytches, Nocterra) and Kieron Gillen (Die, Star Wars). Scott Snyder is co-writing a series called Undiscovered Country with Charles Soule, a complex story of an America that eerily mirrors the real-world. Also on were Rodney Barnes (Killadelphia), Alex De Campi (Dracula, Motherf**Ker), and Pornsak Pichetshote (The Good Asian), who came together to share their storytelling secrets, behind the scenes process, and tease upcoming projects. This panel was moderated by Image Comics’ Talent Liaison, Marla Eizik.

The Psychology of Batman

The Arkham Sessions are a staple at cons. Hosted by Clinical Psychologist Dr. Drea Letamendi and co-host Brian Ward (The Arkham Sessions podcast), these panels are always fun and insightful discussions on the Caped Crusader’s psychology. Joining this dynamic duo were Animation writers Jim Krieg (Batman: Gotham by Gaslight) and Jeremy Adams (Batman: Soul of the Dragon).

Writing & Inclusiveness

As an aspiring writer, I always like to listen to professionals—their advice, trials, and tribulations. Led by New York Times bestselling author Peter Clines (Threshold series), this session focuses on the business of prose writing and publishing. The Writers Coffeehouse is a bunch of writers—in this case, it’s Sarah Kuhn (Heroine Complex series), Stephen Blackmoore (@sblackmoore), Fonda Lee (FondaLee.com), and Greg van Eekhout (@gregvaneekhout)—sitting around talking about writing. During the panel, Clines asked when the guests knew they had made it as a writer. The entire panel laughed and had the same answer, “We made it?!”


Hosted by Prism Comics moderator Justin Hall (No Straight Lines; professor, California College of the Arts), LGBTQ+ Comics and Social Activism is required viewing, in my opinion. Where else will there be an opportunity to listen to a diverse panel of queer comics creators explore comics as a source of social power and community? Panelists included Tara Madison Avery (We’re Still Here, Alphabet; publisher, Stacked Deck Press), Trinidad Escobar (Of Sea and Venom, Tryst), Jennifer Camper (Juicy Mother; founder, Queers & Comics conference), Lawrence Lindell (From Truth with Truth, Still, Couldn’t Afford Therapy, So I Made This Again; co-founder, TheBAYlies), and Anand Vedawala (100 Years From Now Our Bones Will Be Different; executive director, San Francisco Zine Fest).


Lastly, How to Create Your Own Novel: From First Idea to Publishing was an enlightening introspective on the world of book publishing. Hosted by multiple award-winning and national bestselling science fiction and fantasy authors, The Winner Twins: Brittany and Brianna. They looked at developing a writing routine to an in-depth look at different publishing paths. They were joined by friends Todd McCaffrey (New York Times bestselling author, Dragonriders of Pern) and Dave Chesson (publishing and marketing specialist, creator of Kindlepreneur).

Everything Else

What’s New in Movies?

Everyone’s a Critic could be considered a writing panel since it is technically journalistic in nature. Still, a large part of this panel discussed what it meant to be a movie critic during a pandemic. The panel consisted of Bill Watters (Nerdbot), Dana Han-Klein (The DHK), Thomas Parham (professor of cinematic arts at PBA), Alan Ng (Film Threat), and Bob Chipman (Movie Bob). Dana discussed how she is hesitant or flat-out won’t review certain movies on social media in fear of trolls and being yelled at for her opinions. Each panelist named their favorite film or series from 2020; Alan (Emily in Paris), Thomas (Dark), a German science fiction thriller, Bill (Devs), Dana (Minari, Wandavision). Dana’s Wandavision choice sent the panel off on a tangent about the MCU, The Snyder cut of DC’s Justice League, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.


Based on Mark Millar and Frank Quitely’s graphic novel, Mark Millar (Wanted, Kingsman, Kick-Ass) brought the entire cast of the new Netflix series Jupiter’s Legacy together and discussed the epic superhero saga coming to Netflix on May 7. The panel included Josh Duhamel, Leslie Bibb, Mike Wade, Matt Lanter, Elena Kampouris, Andrew Horton, Ian Quinlan, and two Star Wars veterans Matt Lanter (The Clone Wars) and Ben Daniels (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story). This show looks super fun, and the source material comes highly recommended, especially if you like Star Wars and Roman history.

Toys!

At the last minute, I decided to add Indie Toy Makers Unite! for the toy fans out there. The discussion covered topics such as release strategies, sculpting, manufacturing, painting, crowdfunding, and distribution of the independently produced action figure. Moderated by Richard Mayerik (Netflix’ The Toys That Made Us, A Toy Store Near You) and Gavin Hignight (Wandering Planet Toys, Transformers: War For Cybertron, LEGO/Marvel Avengers). Go to the links for more on The Toys That Made Us and A Toy Store Near You. The rest of the panel included Chris Gawrych (Amazo Toys), John Russell (Chicken Fried Toys), Craig Owen (Zica Toys), Brian Flynn (Super 7), Paul Wolf (Zwoosh Toys), Bill Murphy (Fresh Monkey Fiction), and Julie Kerwin (I Am Elemental).

Final Thoughts

After last summer’s ComicCon@Home, I said one of the things I’d do differently was I’d attend a watch party. Well, that didn’t happen. There’s just something about this format that doesn’t attract me to a watch party. It’s the interaction with other fans that I require. I was tempted, considering the films were all Godzilla movies, and I’m currently doing my own Godzilla franchise rewatch.

Speaking of interaction, I was hoping Comic-Con would change things up and perhaps allow fans to watch live a la ForceFest2020, but that didn’t happen either. The panels were interesting overall. The most significant difference between them being how they are presented—some are better put together than others. I watched one (that shall remain nameless) where you can only see whoever is talking. I couldn’t see who else was on the panel until they began speaking. On the other hand, it was helpful when a panelist’s name appear on their video. The bottom line is, you don’t want people to have to guess who’s who. There’s definitely room for improvement with these types of conventions.

A Little About Me

My name is Eric Onkenhout, I live in Massachusetts, and Star Wars is my jam and has been since I was 6 or 7. Besides Star Wars, I also enjoy Marvel and Game of Thrones. I love to write, whether it’s fiction, reviews, or journalistic articles. I also enjoy long walks on the beach!

As far as movies, books, comic books, or tv shows, I tend to gravitate towards good writing regardless of the genre. I have a Bachelor’s degree in English-Creative Writing; I like sports like hockey, football, and soccer. And I have one cat named Zeke who is doing his best at laying on my arm as I type this right now.

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