Best of the Cons, Part 2: The Top Southern California Conventions of 2011
Shannon Cottrell Hatsune Miku in concert at Anime Expo
Read more in "Best of the Cons Part 1: 8 Standout TV Shows, Cosplays, Games and More from 2011."
Is Southern California the land of the superfan? Maybe. At the very least, it's the land of the fan conventions. Trying to hit up ever con in the region is difficult. I couldn't do it. (Sorry, San Diego, maybe I can make it to Gaslight Gathering and Anime Conji next year.)
I did, however, go to a lot of conventions this year, enough to compile the third annual Best of the Cons round-up. The list is only for Southern California, mostly Los Angeles-area, events. This means that Dragon*Con is excluded even though I did go this year. (For the record, everyone who told me that Dragon*Con is the best of the conventions is right. If you can make the trip to Atlanta on Labor Day Weekend, do it.) Everything here is based on events that I covered for LA Weekly. If there's a convention that you think should be covered next year, speak your mind in the comment section.
Best New Convention
Shannon Cottrell Titmouse animation panel at Comikaze
It's not often that first-year conventions aim huge, but Comikaze did and it worked. The team behind this general pop culture convention spent the bulk of the summer promoting the event at other conventions. They brought in big guests -- Stan Lee, Elvira, Jhonen Vasquez -- and a spot at the Los Angeles Convention Center. They drew tons of vendors, offered some intriguing panels and kept the cover charge low. Then, at the last minute, they announced more big guests, including Jackson Publick of The Venture Bros. Even fans outside of L.A. were buzzing about this event.
The first year wasn't without its problems. The exhibit hall was difficult to navigate, which may very well be the result of it taking place inside a parking garage. However, it was a triumphant first effort. I can't wait until next year.
Most Fan-Friendly Convention
Liz Ohanesian DIY robot at Loscon38
Loscon has been around since the 1970s and it's a fundraiser for the world's oldest, active science fiction club. It's also one of the most fan-friendly conventions we've seen. Authors regularly interact with patrons. There are tons of events, ranging from panels to concerts to parties. They even have programming for kids and a library for when you simply want to chill with a good book. This year, they also had an exhibit of local makers, who showed off everything from DIY robotics projects to new video games.