I went to all 3 days of this Year’s Comikaze and I’ll try to give a rundown of the show as best as I can. In general, it’s a fun show, but it skews more to media (TV shows, movies, anime, gaming, etc) than it does to comics. This is great for people who are really into media. Based on the lines and interest in those panels and booths that seems to be the focus of most people in attendance, so I think they’re concentrating in exactly the right place for their core audience.
Panels are, for me, the heart and soul of a comic convention. They’re what set a convention apart from a flea market that just exists to sell fans stuff. Not a lot of “Pure comics” topics (such as spotlights on specific creators or characters, publishers) but there were definitely some great choices available.
I thoroughly enjoyed 2 panels focusing on James Bond: “Battle of the Bonds” on Friday and “50 Years of James Bond – How Did He Become a Legend?” on Saturday.
There was a fascinating panel on “The Death of Superman Lives”, why that movie based on the death & rebirth of Superman storyline starring Nicolas Cage and directed by Tim Burton was never made. Introduced by Kevin Smith it also had an extensive clip of the documentary film that should be out early next year. I’ll definitely be seeing this when it’s available.
There was also a great panel about the short lived Middleman TV series (12 episodes) that was also a short-lived comic with creator Javier Grillo-Marxuach and star of the series Natalie Morales. After the panel they were selling & signing the latest Middleman GN from the recent kickstarter campaign, and I picked one of those up. I finished off Saturday watching a fascinating no-holds-barred documentary about Steve Rude. Very open and honest, not shying away from his bipolar disorder and run-ins with the police over the years while also showcasing his undeniable talent as an artist. There were 4 people in the room watching this, including myself. Sunday I caught “The Boys Who Built Batman” focusing on Bill Finger & Jerry Robinson’s role in creating the legendary hero.
Add to this the number of topics presented on the “main stage” set on the back wall in the middle of the show floor. Stan “The Man” himself was brought out on a number of occasions to the delight of the crowd, displaying his standard brand of Stan charm. I know Stan has both fans & detractors, but I’m guessing those who don’t care for him are pretty much going to stay away from a show with his name in the logo. Stan was playing to an audience of fans, they were loving him and he was loving the adulation of the crowd. Much fun was had by all. I caught three separate “Stan Panels” and enjoyed each, but I’m not that crazy about the ‘everyone standing in a huge mass on the show floor’ aspect of them, though they do catch walk-by people and build positive energy on the show floor, so I can’t dismiss them entirely.
The show floor was about the size of WonderCon, but far fewer comics than at WonderCon. Mid-Size publishers present were Aspen, BOOM!, Top Cow, Zenescope, and a very small IDW booth. The comic dealers I visited were mostly selling “hot” comics for top dollar, but that wasn’t preventing people from buying up stuff. The booths seemed to be doing a decent volume of business. I found one booth selling comics over in the predominantly anime/toy section of the show floor and had some good luck on getting some odd ball stuff out of their $5 or 5/$20 box.
Artist’s alley was spread lengthwise across the entire hall, I picked up 3 sketch covers and grabbed a number of self-published books, so that was a huge positive for me at the show. Another unique feature of this show is the “Stan Lee Museum” where fans can walk though an area with all the Randy Bowen Marvel Super-Hero busts (the only other place someone might see all these is in my comics room…) but they have a much less crowded display here. Added to this is a lot of cool original art and memorabilia that’s definitely worth taking a walk through while you’re at the show.
The LA Convention center is pretty nice with a decent amount of seating, and the area around the convention center, especially along Figueroa & near the Staples center has been renovated nicely in the past few years. Lots of great restaurants and also a lot of food trucks outside the convention center and across the street, so con goers were not forced to eat only convention center food. Not particularly cheap, but some nice stuff to be had. I had lunches out with friends each of the 3 days and a group dinner on Saturday. Averaged about $20 per meal. Parking downtown is pricey ($15-$20).
1) Stan Lee (the MAN himself!) – Hey, I love Stan. Being able to stand and watch him on the main stage is a treat!
2) Friends – the presence of people I know; hanging out, chatting, sharing meals, attending panels was the best part of the show. Cons are a great gathering place for people with similar interests.
3) Artist’s Alley – Meeting Creators, talking to them, and having a chance to get a sketch, buy a comic or poster is fun for me an any con.
4) Stan Lee Museum
5) Shopping – There was a lot to look at and buy. Most of it commanded fairly premium prices, but there were some deals to be had if you took the time to look for them. Particularly Sunday afternoon, the traditional time for con bargains.
Comikaze is a fun show. I think it’s WAY better for people who are more into the pop culture aspects that swirls around the world of comics than purely in comics themselves. I had my Top 5 and other people will have theirs that could be similar or completely different. There were cosplay and fan empowerment aspects of the show that I completely skipped that could easily have been the show highlight for someone else. Seeing John Barrowman, Kevin Smith, Julie Newmar, or Elvira might be the coolest thing ever for some fans. There was a good mix of subjects and like most cons, more fun will be had if you approach them with some planning and a positive attitude.
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