So how was LA’s Comikaze?

ck2 So how was LAs Comikaze?

Even as comic-con fever sweeps the nation, a few areas remain problematic, and of them all the most problematic has traditionally been Los Angeles, where a relatively inaccessible downtown convention center and the generally spread out nature of Angeleno life has necessitated many trucks of fuel in order to get a full head of convention steam going. The answer has been Comikaze, the third-year show that went all stops out this year, including an ongoing pact with Stan Lee and a newer one with Diamond. It was also widely promoted on the Syfy TV show Fangasm, as much discussed here and elsewhere. Held this past weekend, it was definitely a success, with attendance of more than 50,000 people. With many media deals in place, including a partnership with Advanstar, and plans to expand internationally, Comikaze looks to become a big player in the convention field, so this year’s show deserves attention. What worked and what didn’t? Read on to find out.

First off this being the Southland, home of the entertainment industry and many, many fit, fit people, there was cosplay, cosplay, and more cosplay. All good. Forbes’ Mark Hughes has an excellent overall write-up that looks at the show’s plan and growth:

In only its third year, the convention put up strong numbers yet again, topping last year in size and financial returns, not to mention a growing slate of high-profile personalities as the convention’s reputation for drawing young attendees and families increasingly appeals to marketing teams. With an expanded presence that filled out much more of the Los Angeles Convention Center than last year, the show filled that extra space with more vendors and many more attendees, most in costumes of varying detail. Regina Carpinelli, CEO of Comikaze, preferred a conservative estimate in the 50,000+ range.

But the increased number of vendors was perhaps more significant to the overall bottom line. “We’re tracking 65% above last year, financially,” Carpinelli said. 2012′s attendance figures that made the convention the fifth-largest expo of its kind in the U.S. This year, the show approaches 50% of the attendance figures for San Diego Comic Con’s 2012 show. This is without the major participation of film studios thus far, who still flock to San Diego and have come to redefine the nature of that convention, but if Comikaze continues growing, larger studio and network participation is inevitable.Comikaze definitely succeeded as a media expo, and considering some past dismal failures in this venue, that is not something to be sneezed at.

Melissa Molina at Topless Robot has a detailed write-up on the bad—disorganization, a loud event stage in the middle of the floor—and what did work:

One of the big advantages of being in an infant convention is the room they have to show off various products/people in booths that wouldn’t get a chance at a bigger venue. While I was walking around the convention, I found not only a cool number of artists that I have never seen at this point but some vendors, artists and even websites that got their chance to shine in Comikaze due to their ability to give places like these a chance with a booth on the main floor. I never would have learned about the website Geekscape or a wonderful artist like Devon Devereaux if they hadn’t been out on display here with the wonderful help of Comikaze. Good work, guys.

comikaze negative 3 So how was LAs Comikaze?

Okay, we’ve established that people had a good time walking around at Comikaze. But increasingly, the question about comics shows/media expos is not whether they can draw in people, it’s whether exhibitors are getting the bang for their buck at the shows. And as to find if this was a good show for exhibitors, a post by cartoonist Paul Roman Martinez, has all the answers and is one of the best business-minded write-ups of a show I’ve read in some time. Martinez, a veteran of many shows, says that no exhibitor said they did well, and concludes that the audience that came to the show was not primed to spend money once inside:

The Comikaze group has done a great job of getting bodies into the doors. They have every year. But every year I’ve also noticed that, for the number of people they have on the floor, sales should have been much better. In 2012 I had two booths together, one of them a corner, I did a panel on self-publishing with Kickstarter, and I did the official Stan Lee Wants You show poster that now hangs next to the main escalators leading up to the floor. Those things combined with the attendance should have made for one of my best shows of the year. Instead, in 2012 and 2013, I found a crowd that was mostly disinterested in comics. I saw many people walking through the floor and leaving, holding nothing. They seemed to be there for the spectacle of the show, to gawk at cosplayers, and to see what this comic convention thing was all about. A lot of people complain about what San Diego Comic-Con has become over the years, and Comikaze claims they are trying to be the comic show that San Diego used to be. But if you look at the front page of their website, the word comic is mentioned once, and only one comic book guest is listed among their top 8 guests. Instead they bill themselves as a Pop-Culture Convention. Their motto is “Where Pop Culture Rules the Earth.” I guess their name has “comi” in it, and that almost spells “comic.” This doesn’t include Stan Lee, whose name is attached to the convention.

Martinex even includes a chart, which I’ve stolen becuase it gives such a great idea about what it costs to exhibit at various shows. I would suggest that every creator make such a chart for him/herself!

 

 

 

Convention

Emerald
City Seattle
(3 days)

Wondercon
Anaheim
(3 days)

LA Festival of Books
(2 days)

Phoenix Comicon
(4 days)

San Diego Comic Con
(5 days)

Comikaze Los Angeles

(3 days)

Attendance

60k+

50k+

100k+

55k+

120k+

50k+

Booth Cost
(all 10×10 booths)

$850
1 corner booth

$1100
1 corner booth

$1150
1 corner booth

$597

1 Corner Booth

$1750
1 Inline booth

$1200

1 corner booth

Booth Cost Percentage

100%

129%

135%

70%

206%

140%

Gross Sales Percentage

100%

70%

65%

76%

88%

29%

 

The comments on Martinez’s posts paint a similar picture: very low sales.

This doesn’t make Comikaze a bad show, per se, but it does mean that the mix has to be adjusted. I saw some of these same issues at New York Comic Con, to be honest: a huge, engaged audience that didn’t necessarily come to buy from vendors. There are some shows—Emerald City, Wizard World Chicago, SPX—where people drive hours with a satchel of cash and can’t wait to spend it. At some shows just getting in and then parading around in your Dalek costume is the whole point. Drawing a bit of both audiences would seem to be the surest path to overall success.

Comments

  1. Torsten Adair says:

    http://comikazeexpo.com/sites/comikazeexpo.com/files/content-uploads/2013%20Floorplan%20Website%20V%203.pdf

    They occupied Halls G-K (Bradley Hall) with 346,890 sq.ft.

    Did they get free rent? I remember that was offered to CCI:SD back in 2010.

  2. Just some background on the chart for those who don’t click the link to read the full article: Emerald City is my most profitable show of the year so I set it to 100%. Comikaze booth is 140% of the cost and I made about 29% of my gross sales in comparison to Emerald City.
    But I also saw 200% more Stan Lee, so I guess that’s a fringe benefit.

  3. Bob Flegerman says:

    I’m still waiting for The Beat (or some other reputable site) to tell us where the SDCC MILLIONS go every year.

    Their mission statement – Comic-Con International: San Diego is a nonprofit educational corporation dedicated to creating awareness of, and appreciation for, comics and related popular artforms, primarily through the presentation of conventions and events that celebrate the historic and ongoing contribution of comics to art and culture.

    So they put on 2 cons. Both make huge bank. Where is that money going every year? Where?

    That’s the big convention story here. I think.

  4. Torsten Adair says:

    @Bob Flegerman
    They are a non-profit organization.
    They must file tax returns to maintain that status.
    Search GuideStar.org for info.

    http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2012/953/072/2012-953072188-097b42ae-9.pdf
    990-2011
    Revenue: $2.9 Million
    Net Assets, end of year: $13.7 Million

  5. Heidi MacDonald says:

    Torsten beat me to the link. Anyway, it’s safe to say the SDCC peeps have a good war chest.

  6. And SDCC puts on 3 cons. The third one is APE. It is very small and supports indie artists. It’s one of my favorite shows of the year. I doubt it brings in the “huge bank” the other shows do. So that’s one thing they do with their war chest!

  7. Thanks for the coverage. Since it’s local, I scoped out the show on Sunday to help decide whether to consider exhibiting there next year. I can only presume they’ll continue to grow and learn from each show, but Martinez’s overview as a vendor seemed to confirm my observations and conversations with some of the exhibitors there.

  8. As a Guest at this years Comikaze show and a veteran traveler to many conventions through out the country, averaging 35 conventions per year, as well as a promoter on our own conventions Asbury Park Comic Con & New York Comic Festival. I thought Comikaze could have not been better, with a steady enthusiastic crowd and a professional promoter, whose staff went out of their way to make sure that all our needs were met. Most the vendors that I know , said they did well, but I think with any convention it is the vendors responsibility to bring the goods to make the sales, just as it is the promoters responsibility to make sure that the crowds are there to spend the money. Great job to the folks at Comikaze.. hope to be able to attend again next year . ty Rob Bruce from AMC’s “Comic Book Men”

  9. Bob Flegerman says:

    In truth, I had already seen their tax forms. That’s why I brought it up. Having worked with and volunteered with several Non-Profits for two decades, I know all the good stuff and about the waste too– like such things as family members being hired for support jobs that generate $80K salaries.

    I still want to know what is being done with the “war chest” to promote comics and the graphic medium– a sum that now looks to be closer to $18 MILLION. What are they planning to do with all that money? Just let it continue to accrue by several million each year?

    I doubt any site in this hobby will look too closely– for fear they will be blocked from future Con Coverage. That was also one of my points.

Speak Your Mind

*