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Con Wars 2: SoCal edition

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201209200239 Con Wars 2: SoCal edition
While the indie comics world was swooning over Chris Ware in Bethesda last weekend, yet another assault was being made on tapping the LA comic-con market with Stan Lee’s Comikaze. It was by most accounts an enjoyable show in the nerdlebrity mold, with comics pressed up against Adam West and Elvira. Having Stan Lee running around didn’t hurt, of course.

Liz Ohanesian has a thorough report on the good and the bad:

What Comikaze has in its favor is that they immediately marketed the event as a pop culture convention. They’ve given themselves the freedom to experiment with different types of programming without alienating people, something that has been an issue for conventions that began their life in a smaller niche. But they haven’t had that long gestation period that so many cons have had before they got big. When I covered the inaugural event last year, I noted that the biggest problem was the amount of space available for the convention. This year, the issue was with the pre-sale line. Both of those instances could be linked to simply being unprepared for the volume of people who want to attend the convention. It’s something that Comikaze’s team will need to resolve to reach the next level.


Apparently there were some problems with the line for pre-sales, but organizers moved quickly to apologize. In any event, the idea of too many people showing up for a convention in downtown LA is a novel one—it’s been a very hard market to crack—and props to the organizers for putting together a show that taps into the current craze for comic-con.

There were also some more specific criticisms, including the common one that attendees spending a lot of money on nerdlebrity autographs leaves little to buy comics.

This piece also brings up another element that has caused some chatter on the con circuit: the dates for 2013’s Comikaze have been announced as November 1-3, which is the usual date for the Long Beach Comic Con. According to scuttlebutt, this was a deliberate positioning, and the Long Beach show is looking for different dates next year.

We’re not in the know about West Coast show runner rivalries, or why Comikaze moved its dates to a more direct competition with an existing show. It seems to be pretty hard to throw a comic-con that’s a total flop these days, and even with the endemic problems with the LA scene (parking, hotels, transportation, competition from sunlight) it would seem like there’s enough enthusiasm to go around, so the need for aggressive scheduling isn’t that apparent. It’s not like everyone’s fighting over the same penny on the floor.

Comments

  1. This con offered me a free table but then never responded to any email I sent them. I didn’t even know my table number or info about loading in (I curiously did get load in info from SPX!). I tried to make it work, but with my job and financially I just couldn’t make it happen. And with no response from the con, I felt lost and confused.

    I felt guilty about canceling until another creator (who was offered the same deal) showed up and was told that there was actually no table for him. They offered him free admission instead!

    If I had flown all the way from New York to LA and told I didn’t have the table it would have destroyed me! This is a shameful way to treat creators.

  2. Comikaze was a great show with some problems that still need to be worked out. But like you said, most of those problems stem from a lot of people showing up. So that’s kind of a good problem to have.
    As for Long Beach Comic Con, this year will mark it’s 4th year. It is still a pretty new show so they don’t really “own” any dates yet. This year is the first year they’ve been in November. The first three shows were on various weekends in October.

    Here is a link to one of the Beat’s articles showing all the past dates: http://www.comicsbeat.com/2012/05/04/comicon-versation-3-whats-in-a-floor-plan/
    Maybe they’ll just go back to October in 2013? Either way I hope their new PR company can get a bigger turn out this year than they’ve had in the past. It’s nice to have so many great shows in the Southwest!

  3. PRM, Long beach has had the same weekend for the last three years, which I would say is pretty much a date.

    Also Comikaze is only two years old so it is far less established than Long Beach.

    I’ll go out on a limb here and say that all else being equal I would rather go to a show in Long Beach than downtown LA. Much better facilities and sea air in Long Beach!

    And agreed there is room for a lot of shows in SoCal — so no need for old school tactics.

  4. Michael says:

    Not sure how too many people showing up would be a problem since they were mostly “presales”. I was there and saw 9 people processing for reservations. 2 hour line, unless you parked under the center, then you just walked in. No wait for on-site sales. Seems they had to no how many people would show up but opted to save money on labor. Maybe it was used on the loud dj music right in front of registration to drown out the complaints?
    Crowd seemed different, ruder than SDCC, and more people treating it like a swap meet. Heard shoplifting was a problem but don’t have confirmation.
    I felt that Stan Lee most likely just had his name associated and not in control much.
    Once in the convention was good but not enough collectible merchandise. B-celebs were across from sales booths. Main stage had standing, no seats and extended into booth areas.
    I hope it improves next year but that it doesn’t hurt the LBCC as I am going to try that one this year. Great location like San Diego’s with lots of open space outside.
    Anyone think Sunday there is worth it? I see $10 tickets available.

  5. Long Beach Con has been a favorite of Amanda and mine since they began. These are two different shows altogether…Long Beach is much more focused on comics and celebrating the art form.

    Amanda and I and Steve Niles and a slew of guests will be back again. We love the fans at this show.

    I wish both shows a ton of success.

  6. @ THE BEAT, I was just using the dates on the link that Long Beach put up here on the Beat. It shows all the dates for their previous shows on the floor plans. None of them are in November.

    Having exhibited at both shows I can say that I like doing both of them, sales are strong at both (a little stronger at Comikaze). And you are right, the weather is much better in Long Beach!

  7. @THE BEAT, I just realized that the last couple days of October and the first few of November are essentially the same thing. So you’re right!

  8. Yeah, Long Beach has been Halloween weekend for several years now, which is (IIRC) why they added “…and Horror” to the name.

  9. MIkeyD says:

    The major problem at Commikaze this year (and last year too) is the registration/ticket pick-up line. They just didn’t staff accordingly. Sad part is that the Saturday snafu was for all the pre-registered and Groupon ticket buyers for which the show organizers would have the total amount of visitors that would be lining up to pick up the tickets. So let’s say they pre-sold 2,000 tickets for Saturday but they still only had only 9 people checking and handing out tickets? Glad I didn’t pre-pay, in and standing in line quick.

  10. The problem I find with attending a Long Beach area comic con and not owning a car is that you have to go through plenty of dodgy areas in Los Angeles on the Green Line in order to get there.

    Better off safe at home than sorry.

    Unless I was going to carpool with somebody.

    ~

    Coat

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