Ah Stan Lee, Mr Marvel, the Generalissimo, the master of Iron Man, Hulk, Spiderman, and more! He has brought his name, likeness, and, well, himself, to Los Angeles for another year of Comikaze!
Previously, I have only attended once before, in 2013, on a friday evening, and after spending about 1.5 hours in traffic, my stay lasted just about the same time as my drive time. It was not a good day and because of it, I did not have the same joy or excitement, or even the same experience as I normally would. This year however, I planned accordingly and, not attending friday, left early on Saturday and Sunday to get to the show when the doors open and have time to do what I actually wanted!
Comikaze is held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, right next to the Staples Center and NOKIA theatre; it is a very large center, but slightly smaller than the Anaheim Convention center (which houses WonderCon) at 1.1 million square feet, while the LA Convention Center is over 700,000 square feet. But similar to Anaheim and San Diego, there is a space outside the main entrances of LACC to host food trucks, outdoor hang-out spots, and a place to roam; but it is right on major streets and parking lots across the way run $10 in the morning, shooting up to $35, and fluctuate between $15-25 throughout the rest of the day; you can park in the center as well for $20 flat rate.
LACC is spatious enough for the convention, and Comikaze does a great job at actually giving space for the exhibit floor; I unfortunately did not have the chance to view any panels this year, so I can not and will not comment on those rooms. However, the layout of the exhibits, artists alley, main stage, and the rest is fairly eel organized. One improvement I would like to see is possible keeping Artist Alley to one side, as the main stage in the center-back splits the convention into two sides. The main-stage, as I keep mentioning, is also a little something different than the usual Comic-Con. This is where big name panels, mini-concerts, and other events take place; Stan Lee makes appearances multiple times here, as well as guests such as Rob Liefeld, Marc Silvestri, Jim Lee, Duff Goldman, John Romita Jr., Game of Thrones cast and crew, and more. Personally, I see it with pros and cons. The pros is that, it is different and unique to Comikaze, it allows for almost a Hall-H impersonation with the big name panels, you do not have to wait in a crazy line, and if you are in line for something else with a good viewpoint, you can catch the event too. The cons are the setting/placement of the stage, being so close to the exhibit hall, sometimes the crowd fills into the booths and exhibits, causing traffic, or if you get there just too late, you can not really see much. Also when a band is playing, the music echoes from wall to wall and is actually more annoying than fun.
Giving a run down of my days, I arrived around 8:00 am Saturday, received my badge and entered the lines just inside the Convention hall, but right off the exhibit floor by roped barricades. I was expecting a smooth flow into the convention with the line, but after a 10 second countdown, all the barricades were pushed down and the mob just rushed in. Not sure if that was the plan but hopefully no one got hurt! I rushed over to Stan Lee’s booth first to get an autograph ticket, ($60 for autographs) then ran to Top Cow to snag a sketch ticket for Marc Silvestri, but of course, yet again, for the fourth Con in a row, I was too late!
Next con Mr Silvestri is attending, his booth will be my first destination, no matter the lineup! It has always been a wish to get a fantastic sketch by him, and one day it WILL happen!! So, after that let down, I merged back over to the other side and hopped in line for J Scott Campbell. I brought along Amazing Spiderman #1 2014 Campbell variant to get signed by him and Stan, and I did! After a 3 hour wait for Campbell (rumors said he would arrive at 10:30, we did not see him until 12:00) then 2 hours for Stan, it was a day of lines! While waiting for Campbell, I noticed Rob Liefeld had set up a “12:30 signing” poster, and a line began to form; I made some friends and hopped back and forth, eventually getting to Campbell first. LUCKILY because I was getting my comics CGC’d today, the CGC witness brought me right over to Liefeld to beat the line! He is a great guy, brings his kids to the show, and I had Deadpool’s Art of War #1 variant as well as Death of Wolverine #1 Variant with Deadpool signed! After this I did a short roam of the floor, grabbed lunch at a hot dog cart outside, then returned for Stan Lee’s signing at 3:00; another 1.5 hours of that line before getting AMS #1 signed and sent to CGC! Lastly for my signings, I headed over to LenWein as well to get the Death of Wolverine #1 variant as well as Death of Wolverine #4 signed and CGC! (#4 is my favorite cover of the four issues, so I wanted to get it nice and cozy in a case!)
Once all my signings were completed, it came around 4:30 and I spent the next few hours roaming the floor, visiting friends, and picking up an awesome Godzilla vs Pacific Rim Jaegers print titled “The King Has Arrived” [picture below in gallery] by Michael Matsumoto. Eventually the day came to an end and I headed out by 7:00pm.
Sunday was a little more relaxing day; I had the pleasure to bring my girlfriend this day and we arrived around 10:15, to a somewhat slower day than Saturday. There was still a good crowd but definitely more space to walk the exhibit floor. I did not pick up anything this show, (other than the print) due to the unexpected CGC pricing! Nothing to complain, just my mistake in pricing and understanding.
Overall, Comikaze is slowly but surely growing into a great show. For the most part, everything runs smooth, efficient, and things are well organized. What seemed to be the ‘unorganized’ aspect would be schedules of guests, some giving no updates or no continuous updates to their arrivals. But, other than that, everything was great!
Click Here to see the photos from Comikaze 2014