Monday, September 24, 2012

L.A. Convention Center

I drove my geekish self last week to the L.A. Convention Center in downtown L.A. to attend Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo.  It's an annual event, but it was my first time checking it out.  That, plus the fact that in all the time I've lived in and around L.A., I recall only two or three times that I've been inside this convention center (though I know it's quite active all year with mega events, conventions, and naturalization ceremonies), provided ample reason to spend my Saturday there.
L.A. Convention Center is a multi-block complex that I found somewhat confusing to figure out in terms of which parking entrance to use even though I had detailed instructions from Comikaze's website.  I finally figured it out, and it was late morning by the time I parked and purchased my con pass.
I hadn't pre-purchased my ticket, but this turned out to be a blessing because of this:
This crazy queue is for will-call tickets and Groupon purchases.
This is for walk-up ticket purchases. I had my con pass in less than 2 minutes.
I spent the first hour wandering around the vendor hall and exhibition area which was situated in the convention hall's main auditorium.  It was a huge bazaar with very cool and interesting exhibits and booths.  SF novelists and comic book authors were busy talking to fans. Dozens of comic and graphic novel artists were likewise interacting with fans or sketching to pass the time.  Vendors hawked all things geek-related and were engaging passerby.  There were games and tournaments.
Um...I don't know if these quidditch players know how obscene this looked.
The mood of the crowd was enthusiastic.  Everywhere I looked, there were fans and professionals engaged in cosplay.  Most of the costumes were very cool.  For every homespun costume I saw, there were a half dozen awesome, professional-looking outfits that dazzled.  I and the rest of the normally dressed con attendees gawked and took photos of costumed folks.
The highlight of the main auditorium were a couple of stages where the feature Q&As with various celebrity guests of honor took place.
Kevin Smith interviewing Adam West
An hour wasn't enough to examine everything in the main hall, so during the course of my day at the con, I wandered back numerous times to check out more stuff.  These memorabilia were displayed in the "Stan Lee Museum," a sectioned off area within the auditorium:
But what I mostly enjoyed were the guest panels featuring talks or debates, capped off with audience Q&A, by artists and bigwigs within the SF or comic industry discussing their craft and cultural trends.  I attended about 4 or 5 panels, each about 45 minutes in duration.  I found all of them interesting.
geek panel
Michael Uslin
Sometime during the day, I broke for a bland and expensive meal from the convention center cafe.  I might have wandered outside for a tastier, more reasonably priced meal, but the weather was blazingly hot so I made do.

I concluded my day at Comikaze Expo with a film screening.  The movie was Sushi Girl which stars a slew of B-list actors, one of whom is Mark Hamill playing a Truman Capote-esque character whose hamminess stole the movie.  The film was gruesomely amusing.  It was 8:30pm when the screening ended, and by then, the expo had ended and the convention hall was empty of con-goers.  Likewise, the parking lot was empty so I was able to zip out without queuing.

In total, I spent over 9 hours at Comikaze Expo!  It was a nice respite from the heat wave, but I also enjoyed the convention.