In May of 2016, over 500 sci-fi and fantasy fans gathered in Los Angeles to spend a jam-packed weekend celebrating their shared love of the works of Joss Whedon. If
you were there, you'll remember these magic moments. If not, see what you missed!
Upon arrival, attendees felt right at home as they were handed a Whedoncon 2016 badge, a colorful program featuring the art of Mike Collins, a special commemorative lanyard from Fanbase Press, and a specialized Dark Horse Comics tote bag. Between panels, performances, and parties, attendees still found time to collect autographs, slip into their best costumes, and visit The Sunnydale Mall vendor room to shop for all things Whedon. All the proceeds from the fan-run convention were donated to pre-selected charities near and dear to the fandom community.
After an opening ceremony, the event divided into four rooms. One of the first panels was an in-depth feature on the 2016 charities of choice, The Sophie Lancaster Foundation and The Pop Culture Hero Coalition. Conducting this intimate discussion was none other than Guest of Honor Juliet Landau, who perched on the edge of the stage, level with the audience, as she related how the family of Sophie Lancaster had touched her heart. After a great deal of audience participation in an open discussion on bullying, Juliet and her husband Dev invited everyone in attendance to join her fundraising organization, The Legion of the Undead, for a private party the following night.
In addition to its educational options, Friday offered a full platter for Joss fans looking to expand their horizons beyond the Whedonverse or for those aspiring to a career in televison. One highlight was the exploration of the film industry led by two of the genre’s most active veterans, Xena: Warrior Princess creator Steven L. Sears and Star Trek writer and Guest of Honor Marc Zicree. Other afternoon panels explored the business of television and diversity in entertainment, one offering a how-to for blazing a trail for yourself in the industry and the other explaining why television just might need you to.
On Friday night, a group of local actors sat down to perform a dazzling table reading of Joss Whedon’s unproduced Wonder Woman script, a reprise of a sold-out performance put on the previous winter by The Comic Bug, a Manhattan Beach comic shop. Through the twists and turns and laughter, the cast took the audience through Whedon’s mind on a journey long thought to be buried by studio executives.
Late in the evening, a rousing rendition of Megan Hines’ Whedonverse Family Feud took center stage as host James C. Leary joked with contestants while they tried to list Avenger Tony Stark’s foibles and recall the names of every single member of The Evil League of Evil from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog. In the next room over, braver souls took turns singing karaoke (some Whedonverse songs included!). That night, the fans too excited to sleep were treated to an overnight screening of the original Star Wars trilogy in the screening room usually reserved for fan-favorite episodes and Whedon films such as The Cabin in the Woods and Much Ado About Nothing.
Saturday morning began with an hour-long laugh riot as Mark Lutz and James C. Leary hurled faux insults at each other while weaving tales about their time behind the scenes on the sets of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Not to be outdone, Whedonopolis’ first All-Villains panel brought together the Bads of Buffy and Angel—Harry Groener, Andrew Ferchland, Keith Szarabajka, Juliet Landau, Doug Jones, Camden Toy, and Rudolf Martin—to the same stage that afternoon for a rollicking discussion of the nature of evil and how it manifests most strongly after being subjected to hours of prosthetic makeup application.
While Marc Zicree offered a peek into his upcoming series Space Command, attendees in a neighboring room received demonstrations on the proper way to operate a drone and how useful one can be on a movie shoot.
Later that afternoon, the incomparable science fiction author PJ Haarsma guided his audience through the creative process and inspiration behind 2015 miniseries Con Man, his latest tongue-in-cheek brainchild featuring Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion. While fans of Buffy and Angel crowded in to see clips of Juliet Landau’s upcoming vampire documentary, A Place Among the Undead, Firefly die-hards grabbed their popcorn and settled in for a screening of elaborate and intricate fan film Browncoats: Independence War, followed by an enlightening discussion with creator Francis Hamada and some of the cast and crew.
As the volunteer staff prepped the hall for the upcoming dance, a few fortunate fans spent the evening relaxing and chatting with the Whedonverse actors in an intimate private party hosted by Juliet Landau for her donors, the Legion of the Undead. Meanwhile, to an hour-long roar of laughter, LA-local comedians and film connoisseurs The Movie Guys performed a raunchy adults-only Superhero Roast placing the cast of The Avengers in situations unlikely to appear in their next big screen endeavors.
At the much-anticipated Prom at the Bronze celebration, fans danced late into the night to performances by Whedon-inspired musical groups The Fallen Stars and Gemeni. The cameras of the live-streamed costume and cosplay contest followed the judges as they navigated the dancefloor for a better look at the Browncoats, vampires, slayers, dolls, and Doctors Horrible. To the delight of the convention attendees, several of the actors from Whedonverse shows made an appearance on the dance floor and joined in with the crowd.
SHIELD Sunday was highlighted by a three-hour block featuring cast and crew from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Marvel’s Agent Carter. Visual effects supervisor at S.H.I.E.L.D. Mark Kolpack and his team took attendees through a frame-by-frame analysis of how a typical episode of the superhero drama transforms on its journey from page to screen and demonstrated what role the visual effects team plays in crafting the story. Fans were even treated to a behind-the-scenes video of an on-set demolition. In the third hour, the audience was floored by the surprise arrival of Dollhouse and Agent Carter star Enver Gjokaj who took the time to talk about his on-set adventures.
Throughout Sunday afternoon, guests had the option to bid on various Whedonverse autographs, props, figures, collectibles, and other sci-fi/fantasy items as part of the Whedonopolis Charity Auction. All auction items were donated and the money collected went towards the totals for The Sophie Lancaster Foundation and The Pop Culture Hero Coalition.
As WhedonCon 2016 wound down to a close, singing along to the Buffy Musical “Once More With Feeling” stood in for the fledgling convention’s Closing Ceremony, continuing a long-standing tradition of ending a nonstop weekend on a high note. Though in the final moments of the beloved Buffy episode, the singing audience may have joined the Scooby Gang in asking themselves “Where Do We Go From Here?” the answer was clear: WhedonCon 2017.
And we're already hard at work on it!!