Hard science meets cosplay: More from WonderCon 2009

WonderCon 2009 featured more than just fans in elaborate costumes. Superhero physics and debates about genre fiction held court, too.

Seth Rosenblatt
Senior writer Seth Rosenblatt covered Google and security for CNET News, with occasional forays into tech and pop culture. Formerly a CNET Reviews senior editor for software, he has written about nearly every category of software and app available.
Seth Rosenblatt
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WonderCon 2009 banner

WonderCon 2009 might've had a smaller crowd than in previous years. It certainly felt that way walking the convention floor at the Moscone Center--just don't tell anyone who was there.

From lectures on superhero physics, to an impressively diverse display of costumes, to discussions with Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, and even deals on Obama comics, San Francisco was the place to be for fanboys and fangirls last weekend.

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No storming the gate

"These aren't the nerds you're looking for!" Stormtroopers guard the line at Moscone South.
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Banking on Obama comics

President Barack Obama's love of comics has been so well-received in the comic book business that he's already made it into several books. Publishers and retailers alike are hoping that the Comic Book Guy-in-Chief's popularity can transform into their own financial stimulus package.
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But which one is the real Dick?

Cross-dressing is nothing new to comics, and Heath Ledger's twist as Nurse Joker in last summer's "The Dark Knight" reminded people. Here, two female fans dress up as their favorite male superhero, Dick Grayson, in both his original Robin costume and his twentysomething Nightwing persona.
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Meeting Carrie Fisher

"Watchmen" was getting all the buzz at this year's WonderCon, but "Star Wars" remains one of the most popular genre films of all time. More than 25 years since her last performance as Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher still attracts long lines of devoted fans.
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The other Joker

Sitting to the right of Carrie Fisher was her "Star Wars" co-star, Mark Hamill. Not only popular for his portrayal of Luke Skywalker, Hamill is also known in comics as the voice of the Joker for the Emmy Award-winning "Batman: The Animated Series" from the 1990s.
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Genre literature or literary genre?

Pulitzer Prize-winning Michael Chabon (left) and renowned comic book author Matt Fraction discuss with each other the nature of genre-based fiction and its place in literature in front of a packed room of more than 200 people.
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A different Nurse Joker

This 3-year-old comic book fan's father assured me that she hadn't seen "The Dark Knight," which then raises the question: is news of Heath Ledger's performance reaching toddlers?
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To space and beyond

Not all cosplayers at the convention dressed as superheroes. This hopeful future astronaut worked on his eye-hand coordination while playing skeeball at a booth for the upcoming film, "Adventureland."
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Up, up, and away!

Families were big this year at WonderCon, which made up for the less-frenetic vibe compared to last year's Con. Many publishers, retailers, creators, and fans brought their kids to the show, and in many ways it was like Halloween without the candy and rotting teeth.
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Creepy and magical

Walking around the convention floor on the busiest day of the weekend, Saturday, it's hard not to avoid the glut of the most popular superheroes. Creeper (left) and Zatanna are two of the more obscure heroes that have nevertheless developed a faithful following.
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Funny men in funnybooks

Mark Evanier (left) and Sergio Aragones are the creators behind "Groo the Wanderer," one of the longest-running humor-based English-language comics still being published.
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Master of Grendel, Mage, and Bat

One of the most popular reasons to come to a comics convention is to meet favorite writers and artists. Matt Wagner's clean linework and brooding stories attract many fans...
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Jill Thompson

...as do the whimsical and expressive drawings by Jill Thompson...
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Rick Remender

...and the science fiction driven tales by Rick Remender.
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Roll with it

Characters from the game "Katamari Damacy" stop to pose for a photo. That's how they roll.
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The invisible man and comics science

There's more to comics conventions than just cosplayers and sweaty crowds. This panel led by the Institute for Comics Studies' founder Peter Coogan discussed the role of hard science in comics. Coogan couldn't make it in person, and so the entire presentation was conducted somewhat oddly via Skype and cell phone.
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Creating alternate realities

Alternate reality games are becoming more popular as a way for creators to involve their audience more directly in stories. Here, Glenn Goodfried of "lonelygirl15," and Melanie Merkosky of the online show "Harper's Globe," talk about how television and social media continue to dovetail together.

Disclaimer: "Harper's Globe" is produced by CBS, the parent company of CNET.

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Reading Death Note

WonderCon has a reputation as being one of the more "comic-booky" of conventions, with more of an emphasis on comic books than other media. Even with all the activity and noise on the convention floor, some fans still found time to read their new purchases...
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Batman and Joker--chillin'

...or just relax during a panel.
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The R2-D2 Builder's Group is always a popular panel. This year, they pulled the casing off one of their handmade R2-D2s to show fans and fascinated children just how the radio-controlled droids are built.
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R2, skinned

While public domain copyright law might be called into question during the next decade, nonprofit fan use is currently alive and strong as evidenced by the R2-D2 Builder's Group and others like them.
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Home-brewed Bumblebee

The most visible part of the show are the cosplayers, but for some it's not enough to wear your costume--you have to build it, too. This homemade Bumblebee suit sports a light-up arm gun and eyes and a line 20 people deep of fans who want their picture taken.

He doesn't transform.

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