Topic: Comic Cons
TODAY'S FEATURE - Blog #3541:
Back in blog #3522, I mentioned that I was looking forward to attending a brand new convention in the Downtown area of Los Angeles...
That would be the ComiKaze Expo, which would be held in the expansive Los Angeles Convention Center!
I'm not going to repeat here what I said in the earlier blog post for the most part, other than the links I believe you would be most interested in, along with my 'review' on the con itself.
Here are just a few photos from this convention, as uploaded at my Facebook Fan Page, Michael D Hamersky On Comics: Special Photo Album!
I will be adding more photos to this photo album in the next four hours, and in the days to follow. Tina took almost 200 photos and I took over 200 photos from our two days there, (Saturday & Sunday). Plus I have videos to share from this con, which will be posted directly at my YouTube Channel as well as the links to those videos at Facebook Fan Page.
Plus here are the links for you to check out to match up with the photos and videos that I will be presenting at my Facebook Fan Page, as these links have links to the exhibitors, panelists, and Artist Alley participants:
Oh, and so you can see what everyone else is saying or has alreday said about this year's Long Beach Comic & Horrr Con... Here's the Facebook Fan Page for the ComiKaze Expo, so that you can be interactive with the promoters / attendees for this year's Con!
So... With All that out of the way... What was 'My Take' on this year's con?! (Along with a few comments that Tina voiced to me during the con & on the drive back home.)
Here's my immediate topics and my thoughts on them:
Attendance: The Expo's organizers did a Great Job in getting attendance at this first time ever event. The word of mouth and distribution of flyers at other conventions prior to theirs showed that they were going to do their utmost in getting people there. I saw their promotional pieces at the Comic-Con International: San Diego back in July, followed up at So Cal Comic Con in August, and Long Beach Comic Con in October. So the Expo's organizers were on the ground promoting their Expo, as well as doing a fine job online.
Parking: Saturday's parking was a little tough, as where I have parked at befor the Wizard World Los Angeles Comic Con held here previously, was full. So we parked at the next closest parking structure. Sunday's parking was worse, as there appeared to be even an additional convention going on. (At least three at one time... An Anthony Robbins conference, and a Franchise conference.)
Registration: Saturday's registration for attendees was disorganized, as far as we and others trying to find where the lines were going. We had press passes as usual for conventions of this niche, which we able to obtain relatively easily once we found where the registration booths were actually located at. However, as we came in and out during the day to use the restrooms, (there was only one inside the hall!), the lines continued to stay packed. Sunday's registration was better, as we arrived at 11:30 and the line wasn't as long.
Opening Day Ceremony: We didn't see any ceremony. We were there before the opening. With our press passes, we were allowed in early, and the attendees on Saturday were delayed in coming in until after the official opening hour as much as we could tell from inside.
Exhibit Hall: Believe it or not... The exhibit hall was actually held in an underground parking garage facility. You could tell by the multiple columns holding up the floor above! That's probably why there was just the one set of restrooms in the hall itself, which was hard to find... Several attendees, including us, were told to leave the large hall, use the restrooms near there, and come back in the entrance again afterwards...
Panels: This is where the organizers of the con could definitely improved on... The panels were held inside the exhibit hall, with just blue drapes separating them from the rest of the hall. The noise factor was horrendous, and with the announcer on the public address system coming on too often for commercials... the panels were interrupted even further. Worse, the numbering of the panel 'rooms' were out of logical order... and a person had to walk back and forth a few times until learning the numbering layout. There was ONE panel held upstairs in an actual room, (the room that surprise guest Mark Hamill was giving his presentation). Definitely the worst aspect of this convention... At the least there should have been large placards with the numbers of the panel 'rooms' that could be visible from a ways away. A person had to walk all the way to the panel 'room' to see what the 'room' number was. Why? Because the organizers 'ran out' of maps / panel schedules the very 1st day of the show! And no, neither Tina nor I believe that there weren't any Kinkos FED Ex or anything else close to the LA Convention Center that couldn't deliver more!
Program Book: Which brings me to the lack of a 'program book' or some sort of giveaway at the time of registration. Even small cons that have more than just a bunch of dealers in a room with comics to sell, have a 'program book' or 'program flyer'. Nothing was provided to regular attendees / pros / press. You were expected to have downloaded / printed your own. Which I had done, only to circle / make a grid of the panels I wanted to attend before arriving to the con.
Pricing: Yes the expo was 'inexpensive'. Only $12 a day, or $20 for both days. And yes the parking cost was $12 per day at the LA Convention Center. But what the problem was, IMO, was that the lack of name badges, the lack of program schedules, lack of maps for the layout inside the exhibit hall, led to the confusion that existed there for both days. Please bear in mind that this in intended to be constructive criticism, not a bitch session...
Events: On Sunday there was appeared to be a 'masquerade' of sorts in the back of the exhibit hall... I'm still not for sure what kind of event it was meant to be. As the 'contestants', all stood in line and faced an evergrowing crowd. Mass confusion, and many of the cosplayers were obviously not pleased to be standing there in line for so long. Other events? Well, I'm not for sure if there were any, other than the following:
Special Event: The Award Ceremony for Cassandra (Elvira) Peterson. It was nice that Cassandra was honored, especially as Saturday was the last convention appearance for her Elvira charcter (portrayed by hereself, as there is a 'replacement' already). However the mini-event STARTED and ENDED before the publicized time of the event at 2PM! Many attendees came over to the 'panel room' AFTER the event was over, no kidding! Tina had grabbed us a couple of chairs earlier, because the event that was supposed to be running at 1PM had been cancelled / rescheduled. But then she had to sit and listen to an impromptu session of a few panelists who arrived early for the 2PM ceremony and "entertained" the crowd until Cassandra was announced (early). For those of you that missed this event, I'll be uploading the ceremony at my YouTube Channel sometime in the near future, and posting a link at my Facebook Fan Page.
Artists Alley: The map that I had printed out to get a general idea of how the exhibit hall would be laid out, indicated an area that I thought would be an 'Artists Alley', although it was not called that. However it turned out to be a 'hodge-podge' of artists intermixed with TV & Film 'celebrities' ala a Wizard World convention. Plus at least one row of 'models' with Playboy and other such credits. The intermixing of all of this was NOT conducive to bring younger children into. Too much semi-nudity, and I am NOT a prude, as you can tell by my review blogs on comics / graphic novels / books. Not a good mix at all. Something that Wizard World learned a while back not to do, as well as the Comic-Con International in San Diego. Keep these areas separate!
Exhibitors: The way the floor design was set up... It was tough to know where you were without a map. And with the promoters running out of maps & with no program books... Well, it wasn't until Sunday that I saw pillars (columns) with maps taped to them for some guidance. The mix of exhibitors was interesting... but not cast into sections. I found even some 'TV / Film celebrities' in areas that were not conducive for signings. However, I know of at least one comics publisher who had made back their total booth & transportation costs the first day of this con, so they were happy!
Other Activities: With everything but one panel room in the exhibit hall, the other activities were limited, UNLESS you left the area to go elsewhere in LA for 'parties', which we did not do. We had other business at night to attend to during this trip.
Additional Comments: I want to point out here that the above, and what I am about to point out here is meant as constructive criticism. After attending comic, sci-fi, anime, and other pop culture conventions since 1972, I like to see even more avenues for 'mainstream' people to find out about the niches that this con and others are attempting to bring new people into! However, if a promoter uses the word 'Comi(c)' in their name, be sure to have a stand alone section for that. Not like a 'comic ghetto for comic book dealers' that the Comic-Con International now has in that expansive San Diego Comic Center, but at least somewhere that the undressed models aren't a part of, to have families want to attend the upcoming years.
For a first time con, both Tina and I were pleased to see that the promoters of ComiKaze were able to deliver attendees on Saturday! AND for you vendors, we saw many going through boxes of items for sale, AND walking away with purchases! For a vendor thinking whether or not to set up at ComiKaze next year... This would be good news! Sunday was a little lighter in purchases from what we could see, but exhibitors that I personally know, (publishers & comics dealers) said that the weekend was a sales success for them. I won't go into the exhibitors at the 'Artists Alley' area, as several still don't get the idea of how to sell their publications or their artwork... I see that at every show.
The attendees that have been posting that they were 'underwhelmed' by this ComiKaze Expo, are basically stating that the promoters were over promising and under delivering what was being told about this convention.
I don't see it that way. I see it as trying to be too much of a 'pop culture con', with too much inclusion and not enough specializing in any one or three niches and doing those very well. Yes, there was something for everyone... But not enough of it. Except that the price was right, at $12 for a day. Others have said 'you get what you pay for', but I'm not going to be unkind about that. I found it to be more than what I thought it would be in the numbers of attendees, and I believe the promoters found that to be the same as well, as they weren't prepared on Saturday morning to handle the crowds of those wanting to get in.
A first con is always a learning experience, both for attendees, exhibitors, and promoters. Those that attended had a 'pop culture con' in the Downtown Los Angeles area, which hasn't happened for a few years. The promoters should take a closer look at the layout of other cons that are using their facilities well for a guideline, such as the previous weekend's Long Beach Comic Con. That exhibit hall's layout, and the adjoining panel rooms was executed very well for example. Along with their program book with maps, panels, guests, etc. For a convention that is only 3 years old... They are hitting on all 8 cylinders this year.
I wish the promoters well, and hope they get the 'messages' of what are being told to them, both in person and online. I look forward to seeing the 2012 ComiKaze Expo, and will be glad to mention it on my Facebook Fan Page, as well as pre-blog about it here.
My thanks again to Regina Carpinelli, Fabiano Carpinelli, and a big hello to Gino Fabinelli who I saw briefly at the Expo! He was very pleased with what his children had been able to put on for a first time con. He has every reason to be pleased as far as I am concerned. It was a good first time effort to put something of this size together. I am hoping to say even better things after the 2012 ComiKaze Expo!
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