The sheer amount of comic conventions in California is mind boggling. There’s almost a show every month of the year if you’re willing to travel. But what sets Comikaze from the rest is that it’s STAN LEE’s Comikaze. The man, the myth, the legend that is Stan Lee owns and operates the show along with Elvira Mistress of the Dark. This is one of our favorite shows of the year.
There’s nothing like stepping into the LA Convention Center and being greeted by the very professional staff. You’ll notice right away that the production value for the show is extremely high. The staff organizes guests in rows of lines and is highly controlled making sure those who came earliest, would be able to enter the show first. This is a big improvement from last year’s Comikaze which we also covered. Last year, the staff started the guest line inside the main hall. Everyone lined up which seemed very organized. Unfortunately, when the event started, the orderly line quickly crumbled and guests just entered through the many openings in between the vendor booths. It was a mess. And unfortunate to those that had the will to show up several hours early, only to be trumped by the late comers. Luckily Comikaze solved this problem this year by having the line form in a separate room with doors to control the flow of guests. It’s fair. It made sense. Well done.
West and South Hall
This year Comikaze was broken up into two halls, west and south. West Hall was the main floor room which held the majority of the vendor booths. South Hall contained the main Comikaze stage, celebrity signing booths and some cosplay booths as well. There were also some commercial sponsors there such as Gudetama. I feel this was a significant difference from last year. Comikaze 2014 held everything including the main stage in one hall. The main stage was in the center towards the back making a nice focal point for all the guests. Booths and vendors surrounded the main stage as various shows and guests did their panels. It was nice being able to go back and forth between the main panels and booths, but this year we had to travel back and forth in the hot sun! Honestly however, it’s not that big of a deal. The show has gotten bigger and they simply needed more space. I have nothing against the second hall. The only suggestion I would make is to put back the main stage in the main hall. This setup separates it from other comic conventions.
Comics and Creators
Some people go to comic cons for Funko Pops and toys, some for celebrity meetings and signings, others for cosplay. Those are all nice, but I go for the thing that started it all – comics! There were lots of comic book vendors, and most of the regular Southern California dealers show up but there’s also a healthy dosage of new vendors. I’d like to note however that this show is not the best if you are only going for comics. There are several shows that are a bit more comic focused. I’ve never been but I’ve heard that Wonder Con still has a big focus on comics. I’ve been to Emerald’ City’s Comic Con which is huge and has lots of comic vendors. Or of you’re from southern California, one the best pure comics show is Cal’s Comic Con. Luckily I love all things pop culture, so this show is a perfect mix. With Stan Lee being at the helm, his show was able to pull in several big creators like Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane or Rob Liefeld. If you’re looking to meet the other legends, this show is for you. They’ll sign, take pictures and do panels – but with very long lines, so plan accordingly.
Along with comicbook creators, there were also several celebrity guests. The big ones being Carrie Fisher, Summer Glau, Elvira and of course Stan Lee. All available for photographs and signings, for a price of course. One awesome thing was that early bird buyers of the Comikaze 3-day pass had the added benefit of a free signing. Unfortunately, the most popular guests always met their quota first. So attendees, whether they are paying or received a free signature, needed to wait in line early or run the risk of missing the guests completely. The lines for the guests were very long. For example, I waited approximately 1.5 hours to get a signature from Todd McFarlane. That’s just the way of things however.
Artist Alley took about 1/4 of the area in the main hall. Approximately 1/3 of the vendors in the second, south hall had various Artist Alley booths as well. Comikaze’s artist alley was very lively, always crowded. Several big and popular artists showed up ready to take commissions or sell prints and indie books. Artist Alley is the area where you take your time and look at all the things. Unlike it’s comic and toy sister booths, Artist Alley was unlikely to have many exclusives you have to rush for. That’s a good thing. It’s nice to be able to look at all the cool creations and speak with the creators. It’s always good to support up and coming artists. You never know who’ll be the next Jim Lee!
For some reason, the cosplay scene didn’t feel as big as last years. I’m not quite sure if this is due to the different main hall locations or there were just fewer coplayers. Don’t get me wrong, there were still hundreds if not thousands of cosplayers, but I felt last year they congregated right outside of the main hall where there were a huge set of stairs for photo opportunities. This year they were a bit more scattered. The spirits were high and seemed like everyone had lots of fun. Doesn’t hurt that it’s Halloween weekend either. So non-cosplayers probably suited up as well. Check out our full cosplay roundup here.
One positive about the two halls are the various food trucks in between. There’s a pathway between the two halls outside which had a lot of decent food vendors. Last year we had the convention hall restaurants which was lackluster. Luckily last year there were an army of bacon wrapped hot dog carts just outside the hall to satisfy cheap grub.
Like I mentioned in the beginning, Stan Lee’s Comikaze is my favorite show in California outside of San Diego Comic Con. It’s huge, approximately 65,000 people last year. It’s we’ll produced and extremely fun. It’s like a mini SDCC. If you love cons, you have to make it out to Comikaze next year, you won’t regret it.
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