Sunday, November 6, 2011
Convention Report - Comikaze Expo 2011
Comikaze Expo 2011
Los Angeles Convention Center
November 5-6, 2011
For a very long time, comic conventions were attended mainly with a small audience of dedicated fans. Hollywood's heavy involvement in Comic-Con International moved the comic convention past the small dedicated fans of comic books into a larger, more mainstream audience. Los Angeles is home to the largest anime convention in North America, Anime Expo. What the city of Los Angeles was missing for the longest time was its own dedicated comic convention. A pair of siblings, Regina and Mario Carpinelli saw the need for a convention dedicated for this market, and created Comikaze Expo. In the convention's inaugural year they had a very impressive turnout due to the low daily badge price of $12 and an impressive list of guests. As a person who has been heavily involved in running anime conventions, here is my critique of Comikaze Expo.
As I entered Kentia Hall, I was pleased with the layout of the convention, the outside perimeter of the convention had curtained off areas to hold panels and a variety of other events. The central core of Comikaze had a mix of guest autograph, dealers, and card games. The mix of the convention created an interesting dynamic within Comikaze since everything was housed under one roof. It is very similar to the way that Japan Expo does its convention layout. As the day moved along, the convention itself got very crowded and it became difficult to move in certain aisles, forget even taking cosplay pictures. From my observation, the crowding is due to the high number of people attending the convention due to the low ticket price combined with a nice blanket appeal that brings in a variety of different fandoms.
For the issues I had, the positives strongly outweigh the negatives. The guests in general were very friendly and very affable. Elvira was as nice as I imagined and she was an incredible guest, her long line was well-deserved. Ernest Borgnine was amazing, it was so great to meet his legendary actor. The convention layout mixed the guests with the booths, and I think that it actually made the con experience better since it was a pleasant surprise walking through the con and being pleasantly surprised by a guest. The atmosphere was wonderful, the people in general were nice. The organization reached out strongly to the cosplay community, and it shows because the number of cosplay was impressive for a convention that didn't have a specific focus (like Anime Expo). There was plenty of variety in terms of vendors, so I had a chance to please my inner anime fan and my inner comic book nerd. It was a wonderful experience overall and I do wish more people get to experience it in the future.
Comikaze did a wonderful job with their inaugural con, I had lots of fun. I ended up staying in the convention until it closed at 7pm. The eclectic guests and the variety of markets they are trying to attract brings in a unique hodgepodge of fans. The con had some issues that can be dealt with, but overall it is convention I highly recommend. I will definitely be back to attend Comikaze 2012 since they have done a great job with their first convention.