WonderCon was started in 1987 in Oakland, California, as “The Wonderful World of Comics Convention.” The show was the brainchild of Bay Area comics retailer John Barrett, who called on a number of friends and associates to help realize his vision, including Bob Borden, Bryan Uhlenbrock, Rory Root, and Mike Friedrich. With the third year, “WonderCon” became the official name of the convention. The original show included all the classic comics convention features: an Exhibit Hall with dealers selling old and new comics and other items, programming, anime screenings, and games. In 2001, after the 15th event, then co-owners Mike Friedrich and Joe Field (another prominent Bay Area comic retailer) decided they could no longer devote the time needed to maintain the quality of the show they helped create. They contacted Comic-Con International in hopes that the organization could fold WonderCon into the Comic-Con family of conventions.
Comic-Con International took over the show in 2002 and moved it from Oakland to downtown San Francisco in 2003. After 15 years as a Bay Area event, WonderCon was forced to move to Anaheim in 2012, due to construction at its San Francisco home, the Moscone Center. Since 2012, the event—now called Comic-Con International Presents WonderCon Anaheim—has been held in southern California, at the Anaheim Convention Center. In 2016, WonderCon moved to Los Angeles for one year while the Anaheim Convention Center was undergoing construction on a new building. The show returned to Anaheim in 2017.
WonderCon is literally the sister show to Comic-Con International, embracing all the main aspects of that show, including comics, movies, TV, animation, the Masquerade, and more. The event has grown in all aspects over the years: more attendees, more exhibitors, more programming, and more fun. In its current Anaheim-based incarnation, WonderCon continues to be a must-attend event on the comic book convention schedule.