First things first – so, Comikaze isn’t called Comikaze anymore, which is definitely confusing. And if not confusing, at the very least it’s annoying. Does anyone really call the convention by its full name? That’s Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con. (In all honesty, we didn’t really see, “Comikaze,” as lasting too long. I don’t think it has the most positive of connotations for people, certainly not for Americans…). Anyway, that’s a petty complaint. Despite the name change, the essence of the event remained, and there was certainly no shortage of crazy costumes, amazing artists, and…Harley Quinns.
The variety and quality of vendors was definitely up a notch this year. Maybe I was just in a shopping mood, but I feel that pricing and variety of goods did indeed see an improvement. WoTR favourites included a super-fun and creative booth by the name of Botti Vingelo (find them on Facebook & Etsy), selling general fantasy/goth/steampunk-style jewellery, with its stand-out items being a variety of earcuffs, making for extremely cute elfen-esque accessories.
We also had a great time at the So So Happy – Skelanimals booth, perhaps because the two vendors happened to be particularly friendly and comedic. In any case, they were happy to entertain our indecisiveness as we contemplated for a-little-too long which of the many sweaters to purchase. I can only imagine that this is the average struggle of a twelve-year-old emo/scene kid. They also threw in a couple of freebies, which definitely earns them a very positive shout-out from us.
We were also glad to bump into Alejandro Lee again this year, creator of the comic series, Sally Sprocket & Piston Pete, who not only writes but illustrates his own books. Steampunk-meets-Wild West, Pinocchio-meets-RoboCop, this storyline couldn’t get any more bizarre, but neither could it get more fun. This is definitely an indie artist to support and keep an eye on.
Besides that, something we had also (secretly) been looking forward to was the Gerard Way interview. Emo fan or not, we were interested to see what the lead singer of My Chemical Romance had to say about his comic-book career. It was fun to hear the updates on his latest comic series, Young Animal, but the interview was disappointingly brief, with Gerard having to leave at about an hour in, skipping the Q & A session, and leaving late-comers wondering what on Earth just happened. So yay for Mr. Way, but nay to the brevity of his appearance.
Of course, seeing Pinky & The Brain (well, OK, the voice actors thereof) was also pretty cool – that’s Maurice LaMarche and and Rob Paulson, The Brain and Pinky, respectively. Growing up with certain cartoons, and then later seeing the real-life voice actors behind those characters, is always a trip. It’s a cross between fun-and-exciting, and the uncomfortable tinge of feeling like you’ve finally grown up – yeah, those cartoons you used to watch aren’t actually real.
However, there were a couple pitfalls this year too. If we’re going to give a review, we’re going to make sure it’s comprehensive and honest. The first major downer that we encountered were the new opening hours. This year’s event saw its grand opening at 5pm on Friday. Closing time was 9pm. Perhaps LACC had to cut some corners this year, but the effect was most certainly undesirable – Friday lost a little of its excitement and hype, because it all of a sudden seemed like a bit of an add-on day, and the prospect of spending three hours putting on the costume and all that make-up just suddenly started to feel less worth the while. Now, I’m not saying Friday was dull – it just wasn’t quite the “grand opening”
There was also a lack of excitement and variety when it came to panels this year. There was no lack of panels per se, in terms of numbers alone but the number of repeats and similar topics to last year was just past acceptable. Admittedly, themes and topics don’t go out of style within a year, but a little more variation might have been nice. For newcomers, it’s great to have things recapped, but for those who have been to more than one comic convention, it would be nice to have a bit of change. The timetable also appeared a little more crammed this year, presumably because panels were reserved only for Saturday and Sunday, with Friday being converted into a “vendors only” day. This was a little sucky, especially given that Friday had already been reduced to a mere four hours. Things were also somewhat lacking in the “headliners” department. Sure, there were plenty of popular names in geekdome at LACC, but, once again, not much had been switched up from last year.
Things did, however, get turned up a little more outside the convention center. That’s to say, a bunch of angry Christians decided to tell everyone there that they’re going to hell. Really, things did actually heat up enough for the LAPD to decide to monitor the scene. (Yeah, the cops showed up to a comic convention…) Standing their ground and holding their fortress, they proudly held up signs saying, “Ask Me Why You Deserve Hell,” “Repent or Perish”, and “Cry To God,” among other death-metal band names. It was comic to watch (all puns intended), eliciting mainly “WTF?”s from people, with a bunch of fellow nerds standing around wondering what aspect of playing League of Legends lead them down the pathway of hell. Come on, y’all, it’s a comic and gaming expo. Not heroin. (Plenty of heroines though, I saw at least a couple of Wonder Women.)
None of this should be taken as a complaint, constructive criticism at most. We love LA Comic Con, and will undoubtedly continue to attend. Being smaller than San Diego’s Comic Con International, this makes for easier attending, both in terms of ticket availability and in terms of crowd manoeuverability. And at $70, it’s still a great deal ($50 at the presale price, and that’s for the three-day multi pass).
Tl;dr Comic books, cosplay, crazy Christians, gaming, Harley Quinn Harley Quinn Harley Quinn, Deadpooldeadpooldeadpool, See y’all again next year!