In the months leading up to LA Comic Con I called it ‘Identity Crisis Con’ due to how often they change up the name. However, when I looked over the guest list and schedule then I realized that no matter what this event is called it will have a strong line up. There were some major guests from the worlds of wrestling, movies, TV, and comics. Despite the strong line up, there are some issues with this event that one should consider before going next year.
The location has both good and bad aspects. The Los Angeles Convention Center is not the easiest building to get to due to LA traffic, but if you head out early enough finding a parking space isn’t too difficult. That being said, if you do not find parking at the convention center then you will have difficulty finding any place to park in the LA Live area. The building has some problems as well unless you are familiar with the layout then you may have some trouble finding the panel room you are looking for. Finally, there is the problem of food as most restaurants in the area are expensive and fill up fast. Inside the convention food can be a very mixed bag as it tends to be expensive and, on occasion, causes food poisoning. With a little bit of preplanning most of these problems can be avoided.
There are plenty of events and panels to hit at LA Comic Con. The main stage in the dealer hall almost always has things going on. However, most of what I experienced wasn’t very good. The comedy acts I heard made me want to run up to the stage and heckle the terrible performers. The improve group had no applause or laughs. Geek comedy tends to be terrible and should be avoided as programming at all costs. Better to have nothing on stage than a terrible comedy act that makes people want to leave. The Geek So Chic fashion show drew in an audience, but the music choices were painful and most of the clothing wasn’t very creative. The idea of a fashion show isn’t a bad thing, but most designers of ‘geek clothing on display tended to be very banal or repetitive. You can only see so many Harry Potter or Star Wars dresses before they all start blending together. Hopefully next year they can get a better DJ and some actually creative concepts for clothes. Finally, there seemed to be a band on stage at one point, but with the bad acoustics it was hard to make out anything more than just noise. The dealer hall is not a place for a music acts in fact bands are a bad idea unless there is a room set up for a concert.
Panels were not opened until Saturday and some of them would fill up almost instantly. The panel line up was made of three general groupings: guest panels, fan panels, and cosplay panels. For some reason it seemed like there were more cosplay panels than anything else, which seems foolish as that only appeals to a niche audience and even then most of those people are too busy doing other things at the convention to worry about some generic cosplay panel. The guest panels fill up fast, but are worth it if you want to ask a question of a favorite celebrity or industry person. The fan panels are the best part of the line up as they cover a multitude of topics. Panels on 80s cartoons, kaiju movies, and super sentai were great ways to spend time at the con. The only panel I attended that I did not enjoy was the Haunted: Paranormal Explorers panel which seemed to feature random people who happen to believe in ghosts. This is a really weak considering in previous years they had groups that showed off spirit photos and EVP recordings. There were plenty of great panels and while some might be disappointing there is always something else to see.
This year I was involved in running two panels Mythology in Final Fantasy and Make Mine Mecha. The first panel was an updated version of my panel featuring more monsters. It was well attended and we even had an artist in the audience that drew a picture of me running the panel. The second panel was the first time we ever ran the giant robot panel at LA Comic Con. Make Mine Mecha panel incorporated some new slides and a discussion of the absurdity that is Doozy Bots. Both panels had strong attendance and some interesting post panel discussions. I really enjoyed running panels this year and I really hope I can come back with more content next year.
The meat of LA Comic Con dwells within the dealer hall. This is the area is divided into four main areas. The main stage, the artist alley, autograph section, and the dealer section. The Artist Alley featured both indie and professional artists each showing off their work. There are a fair amount of booths making it one of the great places to check out when not panel hopping. The autograph area had waves of people coming through. Sometimes there would be long lines and huge crowds while other times you could easily walk up and meet your favorite guest. The dealer section had a large variety of booths from clothes to figures to comics to movies. There were some great deals and I was lucky enough to pick up the bluRay collection of the Toxic Avenger and get it signed by the legendary Lloyd Kaufman. This was one of the best dealer halls I have seen all year.
One of the most important aspects of any event is the vibe of the crowd. As this is a fairly large event there is plenty of opportunity to run into negative or rude people. However, for the most part people were really friendly. The crowds can get a bit overwhelming at times, but considering the size of the LA Convention Center there are plenty of places to go if you need some space. There was good panel attendance and the audience wasn’t made up of lemmings because when something was bad people moved on to better programming. There is a fair amount of cosplayers, but very few of them are stuck up. This is a convention where people are attending to have some fun and therefore the vibe tends to be far better than one would expect at a LA convention.
This is a convention where there isn’t much reason to go multiple days. While there are some great guests and panels it isn’t enough to go all weekend. The first day can be outright skipped as it has almost no content and Sunday is very little more than a shopping day. Saturday has the meat of the event, but that will only appeal to those who want to hit panels or see a one day only guests. Depending on what you seek from this convention will determine which day you want to attend. If programming and guests don’t matter then go on Friday for some easy shopping with no crowds. If you want content go for Saturday and for a mix of content and shopping go on Sunday. While there isn’t anything wrong with going for more than one day LA Comic Con isn’t the kind of event that demands you attend more than one day due to how programming is handled.
Overall, I had a good time at LA Comic Con. It was a good event with some fun programming and good shopping. My panels went smoothly and I can’t wait to run panels here again. While it does not have enough content to make it worth going for all three days a one or two day trip is highly recommended. There are some great guests from comics and TV as well as some great panels run by competent people (for the most part). I’d like to thank the event staff and all the cool people I met during the convention. I’m looking forward to attending next year and until then please enjoy my list.
1. Last con of the year
2. Cosplay plans fell apart
3. Making contacts
4. Losing business cards
5. I got to meet Mr. Kaufman again
7. Jerky Hut
8. Scum and Villainy Bar
9. 80s Cartoons
10. New panel ideas
11. Got some robots!
12. Looking for just the right artist
13. Nothing worse than bad comedy
14. Next Cosplay: something-something haven’t decided
15. I want a nap
16. Three days was a bit much
17. Doing my own thing
18. Didn’t get a chance to roll those interviews
19. Saturday parking is madness
20. Next time try some creative ideas
21. At least I was looking good
22. New ideas to update the panels
23. Shout out to Kaiju Kingdom
24. Forgot my notebook
25. Re: 24 – I forgot so many things
26. Shopping for the first time in some time
27. Note to self: Try to pack things earlier
28. I could have been a model?
29. Better music means a happier audience
30. Oh man, that old time soda!
31. I’ll miss you Stan Lee