Over the weekend I checked out the Comikaze Expo at the LA Convention Center (LACC). As far as I know, this was the first “real” comic con taking place in Los Angeles. The previous year’s I heard took place in a parking structure or something. But this is a comic con for LA made by fans, for fans. That’s their slogan more or less anyway.
Anyway, I had fun and took a lot of pictures. I can now recognize a lot of familiar faces and costumes from other events. I must say that LA has a lot of creative fans that put a lot into making really awesome costumes.
Thoughts and Criticism
However, everything didn’t go smoothly. Here’s what I’ve seen, read, and/or heard were problems:
- Long lines for those who pre-purchased their tickets. No line for those who bought tickets the day of.
- Inexperienced line coordinators.
- Air conditioning problem. (It was a wee bit hot inside!)
- Fire marshall had to turn people away who actually had tickets!
- Wristbands instead of badges were given out.
- Social media silence.
- The main stage was also in the main hall with exhibitors.
I’d like to share some of my input in regards to some of these. For the problems with lines (#1 and #2), things weren’t that bad. I went early on Saturday around 9:30am and the lines weren’t that bad. Doors supposedly open at 10am. However, those who came in the afternoon had problems as the line went right out the front. I’ve been to San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) and Anime Expo. The lines and attendane for those were much greater and wait sometimes much much longer than just an hour or two. Some fans should get a grip on the idea that these conventions have a lot of people going in a short period of time and lines are unavoidable.
That said, the line coordination showed how inexperienced Comikaze organizers really are, or how short in supply of volunteers they have. With proper preparation, they could have avoided a lot of trouble by simply putting masking tape on the floor weaving through a controlled area. Simply relying on disgruntled fans to self organize straight lines is unrealistic. They are going to curve, bend, and morph into something ugly.
Air conditioning (#3) I dunno they could really do anything about. That’s really on LACC staff.
In regards to tickets and wristbands (#4 and #5) the Comikaze staff also made a mistake. I understand they themselves are fans and want to make it affordable and serve everyone equally, but they should have prioritized the customers that already paid! It’s pretty unacceptable for those that pre-paid to watch as those who bought the day of get their own quick line/queue and walk right into the main hall. And also for them to pay the same price! The point of offering something pre-sale is to help estimate the number of visitors coming in to plan accordingly to have enough staff and ticket booths. They then are the ones that should not only be given priority, but also the discounted price for committing.
The wristbands were also a poor choice. Honestly, the only events where I am given a wristband to wear are music concerts. It’s a quick and dirty way to get people in and verify that badges are unlikely to be easily exchanged. But badges are way better, and here’s why:
- They're more comfortable and be taken on/off. Wristbands are worn for 24-36 hours or however long the event goes for.
- They show the event organizers care because badges can be kept afterwards. Wristbands are torn off and thrown away.
- For fans in costumes where their arms and wrists are covered, badges can be clipped somewhere else other than the wrist.
The social media front (#6) is where they fell short initially, and is probably the hardest to do well. This isn’t just about the Twitter and Facebook pages, but also communication that is accessible and easy to find. So many people, myself included, were wondering when the ticket booths would open on the first day. The event is set for 10am-6pm, but when is the earliest fans could get tickets? That was left out completely on their website and wasn’t addressed in a timely fashion on Twitter/Facebook. Many other questions were also not addressed on the social networks. Which brings up, why bother being on a social network for an annual event if on the days leading up to and on the event, they’re not on it addressing issues 24/7? I think fans can understand if the nine months after the event it were dormant, but the days of? No, not acceptable to only check it once a day.
And finally, the main stage being in the same main hall, without seats is kind of a no-no. It makes the main stage like a big soapbox on a noisy street instead of a, well… a main stage. It should have been reserved for Hall G or something further away on it’s own. The advantage would be to have ample seating and a better location for audio and video projection.
And for some of the fans that just complain about everything… they maybe need to calm the eff down. The ticketing system for SDCC is way more difficult and time consuming. Also more expensive. There were fans that complained about how little space there was between exhibitors… are you serious? Have these fans ever been to a comic con before? If anything, there was way too much space! LACC, aside from the a/c problem, could accomodate way more people than what showed up. I’ve seen it at Anime Expo, which is also held at LACC.
Much of the problems is due to inexperience. This was their second year, and overall I thought it went well. LA really deserves it’s own comic con. They’ve got the people, the fans, and friggin Hollywood is here in LA. Seriously. Why is Hollywood and entertainment putting everything into SDCC when right in their own city they could do something to reach out to fans? SDCC is already too big and popular to be contained in just a 4-5 day event. Again, seriously, LA is perfect. Anyway, sorry for the long rant. I just wanted to share my thoughts on my past comic con experiences.
Here are some of the pictures I took. Full album can be found here.
Todd McFarlane signing
Julie Newmar aka Catwoman
They Live style Hooters girl
McFarlane and Stan Lee on stage!
A contest was announced to win a signed Hulk #181- first appearance of Wolverine.