Comikaze 2014

I think that all my feelings regarding this show can be summed up by the phrase "better than last year." Before I speak more on Comikaze 2014, I must point out that I view this show the way I view other comic book conventions: through an exhibitor's perspective, as I have worked on the other side of the table since 2010, after having attended comic conventions since 2005.

This time, I'm back on the "attendee" side (having exhibited in artist alley at this show just once in 2012). I attended saturday only, as that was my only free day. Comikaze Expo is one of those shows that has alot going for it, with its central location in the heart of downtown Los Angeles near both the L.A. Live entertainment complex and the Staples Center, a feasible driving distance from almost anywhere in Los Angeles County, and most importantly: accessible by Metro Rail via the red line subway, blue line light rail, and expo line light rail. That's a great transportation option to have if you don't want to try your luck fighting traffic, avoiding pedestrians, and paying highly variable parking fees. Anyway, onto the convention itself: Now, along with the good points I previously mentioned, the major flaw that this show has had is in its show floor organization. Comikaze, in years past, had a habit of putting their artist alley too far toward the back of their hall, to the point that customers don't even bother walking through this area of creativity. This year the show made a huge improvement with their indie creators section by placing a large chunk of the artists near the middle of the floor. This put them right in the action (similar to what Long Beach Comic Con started doing last year), but also far enough away from the stage area so that the activities there don't distract artist alley business. Several artist alley friends of mine did like the new placement, however a few of them were placed in a section to the left of the stage, making the artist alley seem broken in half. Some weren't sure about the change, but went with a "wait and see" approach when it came to customer traffic and sales. I didn't attend any panels, as I mostly traveled the floor with some visiting friends of mine, and also chatted with and supported my indie creator buddies. I even got interviewed by a good friend of mine about my feelings on the show and my artwork. The friends I was with did go to a Kevin Smith podcast panel, and they said they enjoyed it very much. The free after-party at Club Nokia down the street (well, free for Comikaze attendees with badges) was a fun, great idea as well, and it made great use of the convention's nearby surroundings. They had an 80's cover band called "the flux capacitors" playing, and me being a big '80s music fan as well as my buddies, we had a blast.

Overall, this was a great show. It again, was much better than their last two years where they seemed very disorganized and ignored indie creators. This is not to say that indie creators need to be the stars of the show (as cool as that would be) over retailer booths, panels, and celebrities. They just need to find that even balance between the two. I believe they took a step in the right direction this year by moving at least part of their artist alley closer to the heart of the show floor. That one change is making me seriously consider getting back on the other side of the table come next year. Hopefully, this show does get better, as Los Angeles County (particularly Downtown L.A.) really need some more events that let all the nearby business in on the fun. They may not reach San Diego Comic Con levels, but Comikaze has a chance to make its own impact that can be just as special.