No longer Comikaze, Stan Lee's Los Angeles Comic Con appears poised to take its place among the larger conventions in San Diego, Salt Lake City, and New York. Was the name change a sign of better times to come? Did Los Angeles get the big comic book convention it has been fishing for? Is the convention still one of the better ones in Southern California? Time to take the plunge!
Yes, we were in Los Angeles, so that means we were back at the Residence Inn at L.A. Live. We as a group have come to love the amount of space in the rooms, as well as the kitchens with the full-size refrigerators, meaning you can properly keep food without having to be completely dependent on local restaurants, which can definitely lower the stress of your weekend.
The décor of the hotel has not changed as of yet. The rooms on this side of the building (the other half of the building is a Courtyard Inn decorated in sunrise colors), are reminiscent of a Southern California sunset; the décor is full of crimson, maroon, and black and white murals above the beds.
The staff is still the friendliest and with the best memories I have seen. A few hours after my arrival, a few of the staff members gave me a big, “Glad to see you’re back!” They were highly attentive and quick to take care of any questions I had, as well as understanding when I asked them to hold my things while I had to finish some business.
This is a must-stay location for Los Angeles conventions.
Registration seems to be on the downswing at comic book conventions. I thought the issues at Long Beach Comic Con were bad, but the lines outside of Los Angeles Comic-Con actually made that look more bearable. Don’t believe me? The line outside of South Hall wound in near stifling ways from the side of the south hall to in front of the South Hall entrances. There were so many people waiting that it was actually interfering with people trying to get in the building.
I tried to stay out of the way, but my guess would be that there wasn’t enough people processing registration. I saw about a dozen people to process them on Day 1, but when you have a convention of 50,000+ people you have to plan ahead for bumps in attendance.
I am not a fan of the Los Angeles Convention center. The building is wildly decentralized for large events like E3 or the Los Angeles Auto Show with two large halls that roughly equate to the square footage at Anaheim, but they are separated by a city street. The two halls are connected by a bridge, but this building’s layout is terrible for very large conventions.
When it comes to mid-size conventions, it’s still not convenient. Since a lot of conventions like to put media and operational offices above South Hall, you often need to leave the hall to make it to the panel rooms like you do at Los Angeles Comic-Con. If you are shopping and want to attend a panel, you will need to exit the Dealer’s Hall and traverse the South Hall Lobby to get to the Skyway Bridge and it’s second floor to find the meeting rooms. Given how crowded this place is for mid-to-large size conventions, getting to the meeting rooms can be a trial.
The staff at this building is still pretty standoffish to nerd activities. As per the last few years, they frown on gatherings happening indoors and do your best to shoo you either outside or to stop what you are doing altogether. If you are looking for a good group photo and to stay out of the rain (which did happen during the weekend), you’ll have to find an out of the way place.
If it wasn’t for the prestige of saying, “We have a convention in Los Angeles,” I find it hard to understand why people still book this building for conventions.
The Dealer’s Hall was actually more than a bit of a letdown in 2016.
When Los Angeles Comic-Con changed its name from Comikaze, I had pictured that they were finding a new gear in the convention; that they were going from mid-size to large-size after it’s quick five-year explosion. In the transition to Los Angeles Comic-Con, this convention felt like it was leaving comic books behind. On Saturday, I wandered to the center of the hall and realized that there were only three comic book vendors in my walk.
If you’re interested in toys, corsets, steampunk accessories or clothes, independent artists, trip raffles, mystery boxes, T-shirts, or muscle tension release devices, you should have a pretty good time. Although there were booths manned by Tow Cow and Dark Horse Comics, for the most part, comic book representation in the hall was strangely light.
The Artist’s Alley was expanded to cover 1/5 to ¼ of the overall hall, but I could find very few industry artists in the alley. It was filled with a lot of independent artists who had a lot of interesting items, but given my three decades of convention history, I am well fleshed out on prints and want to see more industry talent I haven’t had a chance to meet.
I was astonished how few comic books I could buy at a convention that used “Comic-Con” in its title. People complain about San Diego Comic-Con being too pop culture, but if you wander their Exhibit Hall, you still have multiple opportunities to flesh out your collection. At Los Angeles Comic-Con, those opportunities are weirdly slim.
This was probably your best opportunity for entertainment over the weekend, but not comic book news.
Like the Dealer’s Hall, there’s a lot of entertainment items in their panel list, as well as some multimedia stars, but there is little actual comic industry information or interaction in it. You can see a lot of improvisational groups, musical groups, and fan organizations like the 501st Imperial Brigade. If you are looking for any announcements about upcoming toy releases or comic book storylines, this isn’t the place.
Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed Mike Colter’s appearance on the Main Stage of Comikaze in the Exhibit Hall and his energetic answers to fans, but there wasn’t much here to keep me interested in what was happening. I did miss the Kevin Smith/Ralph Garman Fatman on Batman taping with Adam West and Burt Ward due to business. That probably would have lifted my spirits.
Cosplay at Los Angeles Comic-Con is at the middle of the pack in my opinion.
I did see some interesting items, but most of the more interesting ones, I noted, were ones I saw earlier in my year in California conventions. It appears that people are bringing things they have finished earlier in the year or items that require minimal work to put together (think zentai suits) for the most part. There are some standout cosplayers. I took photos of a Mei and a Tracer from Overwatch that looked like they leapt off the screen (and the Mei was overheated in a suede parka, Baldur bless her).
As a people watcher, there are both cheaper conventions where you can see more interesting cosplay (Long Beach Comic Con/Expo) and larger conventions where people are more likely to try out highly detailed costumes (WonderCon). The only convention where cosplay is less prevalent, in my mind, is San Diego Comic-Con, but you also have many many more things to do at that convention.
While I wasn’t enamored with the convention, the staff were quick to help and seemed eager to take care of issues instead of kicking them up and down the ladder like Anime Expo tends to do.
I didn’t see the random people walking around with “Ask Me” signs as in previous years. Most everything that was occurring ran on time and opened on schedule. The only item I personally observed that made me worried was the opening of the convention at 5:00 p.m. on Day 1 (more on that in a minute). While the convention hall opened on time, about 10 minutes into letting people in the Dealer’s Hall, the line was stalled for a good 10 minutes for some unknown problem. Just when people started to audibly groan, the problem was solved and people were let in at a pretty good clip.
Organization is not a problem at Los Angeles Comic-Con.
There was one decision that Los Angeles Comic Con made that is just confusing me, though. They haven’t lowered their price as a three-day convention, but Day 1 was suddenly slashed to only being open from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., and that is only the Dealer’s Hall. There are no panels that day. My feeling is that the prices either need to be lowered, or people should have more bang for their buck when you change Day 1 into an unofficial preview night.
Downtown Los Angeles is a mixture of feelings for me.
I do like that there is shopping, both grocery and department store, within a 10 minute walk of my hotel, but those blocks, despite being in the Figueroa area, can have a lot of interaction with local people, and that varies pretty wildly. There’s a lot of homeless people panhandling in the area, as well as well-to-do individuals that can act pretty haughty and stuck-up when you pass by them in costume, they can be very condescending in attitude, if they don’t say anything outright.
There’s a few places to eat nearby, but if you’re working on a budget, you’re going to have to walk at least a couple blocks in a lot of scenarios. One tip I can give you for sure is that there is a Denny’s on Figueroa between 8th and 9th Streets; Do not go there. That Denny’s is barely passable on a normal night, not one when there’s 40,000 extra people in the area.
A few years ago, Downtown Los Angeles wasn’t as harrowing of a place. In 2016, you should probably consider walking with someone else if you’re unfamiliar with the area.
There is a few places to go in Downtown Los Angeles, although I am not a member of the club scene. Fortunately, there was one third party event, Club Comic Con, that happened on Friday night, but that was a bit of a walk away.
Los Angele Comic-Con brought back its own dance/quasi-Halloween ball featuring a DJ and a couple of cover bands for people to enjoy. I did not have the time to visit this year, which was a shame. Their dances are more laid back than the rave-style environment at anime conventions.
Don’t overlook the Comic-Con dance. It’s a great way to unwind.
My first overall thought is that… I miss Comikaze.
Comikaze felt like a comic book convention that had a lot going for it. Los Angeles Comic Con in 2016 felt like a convention that already hit its upper ceiling and is clawing for some form of growth. That shouldn’t be given the last few years with notable stars and some interesting announcements, not a lot, but at least some. This year, there was a deficit of industry talent and almost no announcements of any sort.
If you want to rub elbows with the occasional celebrity, that might happen. If you want to meet the co-stars and “Also Starring” members of shows or find a random knick-knack, this is your place. For me, though, I think that Anime Expo 2016 is a better convention than this… and if you follow my reviews… you know that is really saying how uninteresting of a time I had…