Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con 2016 — Report

Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con (SLLACC), formerly Comikaze, has grown by leaps and bounds in only a few years, to the point where weekend attendance is approaching that of the famed San Diego Comic Con (SDCC). Last year, it was about 90,000, and I’d wager this year’s tally will surpass that.

And much like SDCC about a dozen or so years ago, when interest and attendance seemingly skyrocketed within the span of a year, SLLACC’s sudden growth has come with some pains.

Just as SDCC was seemingly logistically unprepared for a massive increase in attendance, Saturday saw SLLACC unable to get people into the show in a timely fashion. Badge pick-up line-ups stretched around the block, resulting in people waiting up to two hours just to get in. Parking was a mess: people simply couldn’t park their car in anything less than two hours; others found that their prepaid parking passes weren’t being accepted. Social media was filled with those complaints, along with complaints about staff who were unable to answer questions or offer assistance. Those issues often arise when shows rapidly grow and it’s not unique to this con “” I recall similar issues with SDCC.

Inside, the show was a crush of humanity, much like SDCC used to be until this year “” a multitude of outside events, stuff going on in the ballrooms/conference rooms, meant that people weren’t concentrated inside the main SDCC hall “” SLLACC might want to seek out the means and secure partnerships to do similar.

Sunday was much better and only became congested in the afternoon. The rain (rain is a big deal in LA) might’ve kept some folks away, and possibly negative experiences/perceptions from Saturday as well.

Those issues aside, there was a lot to like about this year’s show.

Unlike the lobby entrance of SDCC, the lobby area at the LA Convention Center is spacious, giving the continually growing cosplay crowd ample room to pose, and fans to mingle. Additionally, there is plenty of space upstairs to eat, with on site food vendors “” in addition to the bonus of a variety of food trucks parked in front of the facility.

There’s still a fair amount of extra space on either end of the show floor, meaning that the opportunity for more exhibitors still exists, and were I an exhibitor, I’d definitely add this show to my roster.

Events hosted on Hot Topic Main Stage were easily viewable by all attendees, meaning no lineups outside a ballroom, unlike SDCC. On top of that, there were a variety of interesting panels in the conference rooms.

As a comic collector, and as one who has attended past shows under its former name, I must say I was a bit disappointed by the smaller representation of comic book dealers. Of those attending, at least half showed up with worn out longboxes of unsorted issues. It’s foolish to expect attendees to spend precious time sifting through your boxes, issue by issue, when there are so many other offerings and events at the show. These kinds of sloppy dealers diminish the quality of the con, and are better suited for a flea market, or small show in a library. By comparison, SDCC is once again home to many professionally minded dealers, and I still haven’t read all the comics I picked up there this past July.

Aside from that, I found a remarkable number of small press publishers and artists, infusing this con with a level of energy and a sense of really supporting new voices.

Low point: Kato Kaelin, excitedly shouting his head off, hawking something at a booth “” I kept walking.

A side-note: while I do feel the name change is generally for the better (what did Comikaze even mean? I can see it being offensive to folks of Japanese origin. BTW, what is the octopus in the logo all about?), I also think this new name is a bit clunky and overly long. I understand importance and value of having Stan Lee’s name in it, but man, the result is one long-ass name, that few will ever say in its entirety. Time will tell.

Overall, the show is well-worth attending, and is growing at an incredible rate. I can easily see it one day equaling San Diego Comic Con in terms of scope and offerings.

Find more info over at the con’s official website.

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