Weekend con report: Comikaze in LA

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Will LA ever get a good comics show? It seems as elusive as a football team. This weekend saw first time show Comikaze unfold at the LA Convention Center, scene of much heartache over the years. Held just one week after the Long Beach Comic Con, Comikaze still was a sell-out, according to IGN, but first hand reports were very mixed.

Comikaze Expo, a comic book, horror, gaming, anime and sci-fi convention that is debuting this weekend in Los Angeles, CA is reporting that tickets to their debut show have completely sold out.

Held in the LA Convention Center this Saturday and Sunday, the show features dozens of creators, genre celebrities, tabletop gaming tournaments, and big gets like Stan Lee, Mark Hamill, and the last ever convention appearance of horror icon Elvira.

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Elisa Ward of The Fangirl Files has an EXHAUSTIVE report that covers everything, from parking to programming layouts. Ward seems to have had a swell time:

THE SIZE: Comikaze’s size was ideal – not too big (like ComicCon in San Diego) and not too small (like the L.A. Comic Con at USC), but just the right size to feel like you got your money’s worth, but weren’t either let down or overwhelmed by the show itself. By the end of the day, I was tired, but not exhausted, and really felt satisfied that I had had just the right amount of con experience to satiate me.

THE GUESTS: The guest selection was fantastic. The good amount of guests made sure anyone wanting to meet their favorites would get their money’s worth. And although there were some of the familiar con regulars, it wasn’t all the usual suspects (Bill Moseley and Sid Haig were no shows). There were a few celebs I’d never seen at conventions previously (Noah Hathaway, for example), which made the selection refreshing and fun. Heck, Comikaze’s two “guests of honor” were Stan Lee and Elvira – you can’t get more polarizing than that!


Ward was more focused on the “nerdlebrity” aspect of the show — and even snapped a pic of Ernest Borgnine and Morgan Fairchild sitting together to prove it.

Ward did mention that the show was unorganized — volunteers unaware of facility layout and so on — and we heard that confirmed from a more comic-based attendee, who wished to remain anonymous. In fact according to our source, the show left much to be desired — it was actually held in a parking garage UNDER the LACC, not in a hall, which led to “an echoing din…it was a brutal experience. Morale was at a low. Everyone wants a decent LA show, even a small local show like a nascent Emerald City, but no one wanted this. It was not a solid comics show or comics crowd. There were booths for lasik eye surgery and local attorney offices.”

Ouch.

Despite the drawbacks, there seems to have been a decent crowd on Parking Level C, and some folks had strong sales. As you can see from this video of the cast of the Nickelodeon sketch show ALL THAT leading a good-sized crowd in a theme song singalong, people were having some fun.

So… mixed grade.

New York was thought to be an impossible city to throw a comic-con in until ReedPOP put on the right kind of show. LA has a lot of logistical problems, most of them to do with getting people to come downtown on a weekend — Wizard recently cancelled their show at the same facility — but it might just take that kind of magic moment to get things to work.

[Photos ©2011 Elisa Ward. Used with permission.]

Comments

  1. Will Los Angeles ever get a good comic show? Are you kidding me? Long Beach Comic Con was fantastic this year…attendanc was up…the comicbook guest list was great, and I had more fans there tell me its one of the best shows they have ever gone to , to get sketches and meet everyone. Every panel was packed. Add to that the halloween theme, the celeb guests [ Shane Black being a standout] and the prime location and LBCC is all the show they need.

    This was not a good show, it was a GREAT show that is growing yearly.

    JIMMY PALMIOTTI

  2. I wouldn’t say I had a “swell” time, but it was a half-decent con. A solid 6.5/10.

  3. Torsten Adair says:

    That “parking garage” is Kentia Hall, which has 162,000 square feet and which is located under the South Hall.

    It’s comparable to combining Hall 1B and 1C at Javits, without carpeting.

    More business info here, including rates:
    http://www.lacclink.com/buildingspace/kentia_hall.aspx?menu=

    Reed has staged BookExpo America at the LA convention center, so they do have experience with the facility. If the show is a destination, such as CCI, then a convention could succeed there. Of course, like CCI, it would need about ten years of growing somewhere else before utilizing the full space of LACC. Add the facilities and footage of LA Live (a high-class Horton Plaza) and it could sufficiently host a mega-convention.

  4. Steve Flack says:

    God, I hope Ernest Borgnine starts doing the convention circuit. I’d love to meet him, even if it costs me $40.

  5. The Anime Expo is held at the LACC and they get 47K+, many of whom are there for all 4 days. So a serious LA show can happen, it is just going to take the right promoter.

  6. Chris Hero says:

    “New York was thought to be an impossible city to throw a comic-con in until ReedPOP put on the right kind of show.”

    What??? I know New Yorkers think everything in NYC is the best thing ever, but seriously, Reed’s show *sucked*.

  7. I just did Long Beach Comic Con and Comikaze. They were totally different but both great. Long Beach had a great comics crowd was a lot of fun and strong in the sales department. Comikaze was much bigger but lacked personality. There were no signs inside to let you know you were at Comikaze. But for a first year show the turn out was amazing. My sales were on par with San Diego Comic Con. So to sum up, I had more fun as a vendor at Long Beach, but there were so many people and great vendors at Comikaze I would definitely do the show again next year. And Ernest Borgnine stopped by my booth! He was awesome and still has an iron grip of a handshake.

  8. I heard a ton of mixed things too about the show. In full disclosure, JayCo did NOT attend, as we were previously scheduled for an out of state show during the same weekend, while maintaining our regular weekend show presence at the Frank & Sons Collectible show across town.

    Really good points about LBCC and Comikaze expo diluting their potentials as vendors, fans, and guests are hard pressed to do back to back shows in the SAME market. Although it can be argued that Wizard and Reed had a Good Convention, and a great one respectively both in nyc last year.

    I find it interesting when one promoter throws a convention that is HEAVY on Nostalgia actors from decades past, and not pushing the chips ALL IN on comic guests, they get a bad wrap. While another promoter goes even heavier on nostalgia, and even LESS on comics gets props from the bloggers. HMMM…

    Let’s call these events what they are- they are Pop Culture shows, not comic cons. As vendors and fans and guests enter into these events, expectations have to be adjusted, especially when comparing it to other similar (or NOT similar) events.

  9. Just to clarify, Long Beach is not L.A. They’re close to each other, but Long Beach is an incorporated city.

  10. It was pretty miserable. It was not sold out, you could still show up cold and buy a “ticket” which was really just a wristband. The security guy at the door was being an asshole to anybody who hadn’t tied the wristband on yet. I could hear a tattoo needle buzzing somewhere on the floor.
    They announced the night before that the Venture Bros “creators” would be there. Turns out it was Jackson Publick and James Urbaniak at the Titmouse panel but the details were so damn vague I never found them. At least I saw four monarch henchmen. Parking was $5 for me since I parked far away and walked instead. These days you don’t wanna end up wasting over $20 just to park conveniently close to the damn building. All in all, very underwhelming and as an aspiring comics artist I was left sad and uninspired and unsure of pursuing comics. I’ll just stick to SDCC, people b*tch but SDCC genuinely energizes me and makes me happy.

  11. Mr Monster says:

    For a show titled “Comikaze” it was very, very light on “comics”. There were probably about 6-8 real comic book booths where you could buy comics at and only like less than 4 big-name artists at the show (Joe Benitex, Mike Mayhew, Mike S. Miller) and a couple new 52 D.C. writers. The function seemed more anime and cosplay related booths, along with celebs and tattoo parlors going on.

    The Con was pack, but you could probably chalk it up to free tickets given away the last week via Facebook and Goldstar websites. Got there at 2 p.m. and the ticket vendors were out of programs, come on. So I couldn’t find where booths or people I wanted to go see were at.

    It was packed though, the amount of people in the hall was almost SDCC-like, and you would have to elbow to get through. The parking-garage layout caused some areas between booths where you had to maneuver around big pylons to go around.

  12. I must back up 19XX. Comikaze is a first year show. There are always drawbacks and problems in a first year show. Given those drawbacks, I couldn’t have been more pleased with the results. A fantastic aspect of Comikaze is that they place the Artist/Small Press tables in the CENTER of the exhibit floor! It was a refreshing break from regularly being punished in a sad ghetto for not spending as much as IDW. My sales were on par with SDCC in only 2 days (less than half the selling time!), and all but two attendees that we met were having a great time. Hopefully next year they will have stronger branding, more of a curated feel to the show layout (there was no logic to where exhibs were placed), more signage, and better organized panels. The panels and tournaments in particular were weirdly disjointed and hard to find. Just as well, parking needed to be better planned. There was no reason for exhibitors to have to park down the street in a different lot from LACC. And, eventually, they will move to a better hall. You can’t have everything at once. It will be cool to see how this show evolves.

    In response to some of the other commenters, why wouldn’t a convention have more ticket deals? One of the biggest problems with the Reed shows and SDCC is that people pay more than they should to get in, leaving them with a limited amount for buying wares. I wholeheartedly believe in paying to get into shows, but I too would be wary to drop 30+ bucks on a first-time show! This having been such a low-risk con, I saw that folks were happy to throw dollars around. I did buy several Christmas gifts on Sunday when I could get away from the table.

    At any rate, we were happy exhibitors and are looking forward to having a strong show like Comikaze at the end of every year. Were we the exception to the rule? I’m anxious to hear how others fared.

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