Comikaze Expo 2011: First-Time Convention Brings Big Names, Big Crowd
If Comikaze suffered from anything this year, it was a clear underestimate of the crowd. With four gatherings at Los Angeles Convention Center last weekend -- including Blog World, West Coast Franchise Expo and a Tony Robbins event -- the upstart convention was relegated to the South Hall parking garage. Yes, a parking garage.
Naturally, this sucked up a good chunk of spots in the lot. By the time I arrived on Saturday, not long after noon, the lines to get into the garages were long and the remaining spaces were hard to find. That wasn't the only wait. At this point in the day, the line for will call tickets met up with a line of people trying to get off the escalators. It was immediately obvious that this convention needed more space.
If there were printed programs and maps available, they weren't on hand by the time I got my wristband. The schedule was available online and we did find a map at the front of the exhibit hall, but it wasn't very useful. The exhibit hall was still difficult to navigate with no clear dividing lines between the vendor, artist and celebrity booths. Most of the panel rooms were small sections of the garage that had been separated from the exhibit hall by curtains. In some cases, I noticed, they were too small to hold the crowd for the panels. There was one room upstairs reserved for larger sessions, like the Titmouse presentation, but even that could have been bigger.
Every problem Comikaze had, though, seemed to be the result of a large crowd (over 30,000 for the entire weekend, according to organizer Regina Carpinelli). Comikaze has the potential to become L.A.'s answer to nationally-known, all-inclusive pop culture conventions like San Diego Comic-Con. If that's going to happen, though, they need more space. This convention is already too big for a parking garage.