This last weekend was Comikaze. If you listened to what the promoters and owners said. It is the best/biggest show in SoCal. It was successful for fans, vendors, artists and the con itself. That’s what they said.
As a artist/vendor (because everyone that is there is selling something), my opinion of Comikaze is a little different than what the organizers claim. I do not think it is a horrible show, I just think that many times brand new shows miss the points on what makes a successful con work.
Now where do I get off on reviewing a con? Well I have been exhibiting at cons for the last 12 years. I average about 9 to 10 a year. I have gone as a guest, an exhibitor, an artist and a fan. I understand it’s a business and that the con, like the exhibitors need to make shows financially viable. I have done small shows and do the grand daddy of them all (SDCC). The top two show in my opinion are Phoenix and Emerald City. They are run not by ego’s but by guys who want the fans and the venders to have the best experience possible. I also think that cons do not realize how many of us vendors talk about the shows we exhibit at. We grade them, we talk about how well they are run and/or how bad. We recommend them (go to Phoenix and ECCC) and sometimes we tell people not to go, because of the experiences we have had.
You see even though we all sell different things, and compete for sales, we want each other to succeed and do well. We know what cons want the same for us and we promote those cons heavily. It becomes a win/win situation for both parties.
I will not hate on Comikaze. I think it has potential. Yet there are many issues that will need to be addressed before I come back and exhibit at the show. I am also not alone. I know 10 other venders that feel the same way and had the same issues that I did. So as part of my review I will discuss them a little. I also believe that this show is dealing with some major growing pains. When a con grows to quickly, it raises problems that include, crowd control, long lines and frustrations from fans.
So what worked and what didn’t?
The pro - I saw a lot of friends and other talented artists. My neighbors were cool and we got along. We have seen each other at many shows and it is always nice to hang out with new people and old friends, Artist and vendors alike.
The fans. There were a lot of people there. It was nice to meet new folks. I drew a lot of FREE Sketches and kids loved them.
There was some cool stuff to see- Stan Lee is always a joy
Freeman were good. It ran smoothly (honestly if you just follow the directions, and be patient. Your experience with the Freemen will be just fine).
Nice signage to find where you were at
The stage was cool, I didn’t mind that.
Oh, and that I got interviewed by an spanish news outlet from Argentina and I got to do the whole interview in spanish. (If you didn’t know, yes I am fluent, dyslexic too if that makes a difference:))
I also recognize and appreciate the work that goes into a con. The set up and the desire to create an environment for fans and creators alike. I want to thank you for doing it. I also recognize that you have made some huge improvements from the year before. That’s a good sign and hopefully you listen to the feedback both fans, guests and exhibitors provide. Ponder it a bit. Take what you need from it and tweak the show a little. I do want you to succeed.
Now what didn’t
Now remember as an artist/vendor support for our work comes from people buying our products. Though there were a lot of people. Not a lot of money was spent. It was a general vibe through the show. Hey, sometimes that just happens. Good days/ bad days. One of the general complaints. After they bought their tickets, they still had to buy tickets (30 apiece) to do the zombie walk inside the hall. Plus it seemed every couple of minutes, on the overhead – They were encouraging people to buy con merchandise. I don’t care if a con sells t-shirts and prints to bring in more money. That’s cool with me, but to announce it every twenty minutes or so, was a little too much. It creates competition between the con and the vender.
I have seen shows that have no problem selling their stuff and try very hard not compete with vendors. That is important to exhibitors. We don’t want to compete with you – we want to work with you.
The microphone backlash. Seriously thy over-com was abused way to much. I had two interviews at this show where they had stop, because of the overhead speaker. It was loud, and spent more time pushing their own interest it seemed than anything else. My interviewers were frustrated because they had had this problem all day long. Now, make announcements – that’s good- people need to know about signings, events, panels – that’s all good. Keep them at announcements.
Ok the EGO. It seems like this show has an ego. Even towards other shows. As an exhibitor I want to attend as many shows possible. The shows that have personal ego’s really turn us off. Look WE WANT CONS TO WORK TOGETHER IN A WAY THAT BENEFITS EVERYONE…. what I mean is talk, open dialogue on when shows are so you give vendors more opportunities to visit your shows and not compete on what show to exhibit at. I know that SDCC, Emerald and phoenix all make sure they work around each other’s dates. Why do they do this? Well, they understand that exhibitors and artist, do a lot of shows, and we like the shows that treat us good. They know that if their show has a bad rap and falls on the date on another show, than we will more than likely do the other show than the show with the bad rap. Seriously, the exhibitor helps create the environment for the fan to have a good experience. The con creates an environment with good guest and good organization that makes the vendor want to be there and the fan have an incredible experience that is affordable. I heard more on how awesome comikaze was from the staff, and it’s organizers than I did from the vendors. If i had heard it from the vendors, I would believe it more. Exhibitors can create a buzz that makes more people want to exhibit (more money for the con) and give them free advertising by telling people how great a con is, then the con just telling you how great it is.
Cost for vendors. I can seeing paying $500 a booth for a two-year show. I am not talking about artist tables, thats a different issue. If a show has proven itself, I can see paying $1200 for a booth and will do so. Once again the show NEEDS to prove that it is worth that. Comikaze gave us the rates for their third year…. $900 a booth. I do not think this show has proven that its booth space is worth what they are asking. That’s a $400 jump. So I know of 10 vendors that have told me they are not coming back, because they feel this is outrageous, a slap in the face. They are con veterans. They are willing to pay the higher booth space if they feel the con has proven itself. They need to make money as well. I do not doubt the con will pick up new vendors, but they loose the old ones, and the new ones will soon learn the same lesson we did. Honestly, I will pay the higher amount, if the show has proven track record, I feel that I will do well, and on how well organized the con is. Other shows have proven that and they have a much much smaller attendance record and yet I will always go back and I will always pay what they ask for for a booth space. So earn the right to ask for the high booth rate. SDCC, Phoenix, and Emerald have all earned that right.
Not thrilled on next year’s dates. There are two other shows I enjoy going to that have been that same weekend for the last few years. (it seems that you are trying to push them out).
Other issues. There were a few security issues for vendors that I felt were not in our favor. (You can email me on that if you want to know those, I don’t think I will post them here).
The disorganization in the lines. They recognized this and good for them for trying to make it better on sunday.
And not but least the flipping of panels from day to day. This seemed to be a bigger problem than most shows I have been at.
The Wrap Up-
Was it all bad. No. Like I said I really enjoyed the company. Our booth neighbors were awesome. Than fans and the kids were for the most part excited. The costumes were good. Some were fantastic and some well… lets just say there comes a time when you need to rethink wearing spandex. I love drawing for people as well, to watch them light up and I enjoyed the time I spent with my son as ran the booth. I am lucky dad.
I enjoyed talking to my artists and publishing friends. I am really glad there are other shows in SoCal. so I can see you there.
Comikaze has great potential, just a lot of kinks to work out. Sadly I will not attend next year. I plan to do the other smaller show which usually falls that same weekend.
I do hope that Comikaze will sit down and evaluate how to make things stronger for everyone. As an exhibitor we would love a really good strong show for the fall. There is just not one there on the west coast. Yet there is potential for two of you (long beach & Comikaze) to become that. Seriously, both of your cons can create a much stronger comic show for both fans, guests and vendors. You turn your shows into A shows or strong B shows and artists/exhibitors will flock to you. The fans will feel it and you will reap the rewards of it.
Will this be read? I am not sure, we will see, honestly I just want to see things work. I also hope more vendors start posting reviews of cons. Be honest, it helps us pick the best shows.
Overall rating for Comikaze: a solid C
If you would like other reviews about Comikaze – just follow the links below or if you have a review about the show just link us to you and i will put it up. The more the merrier, cons need to see honest feedback.
Zombie Ranch Review – Sophomore or less-
Veteran Attendee – Geek. Pirate. Mom – Whitney Drake Review- Whitney, TheBoy & Comikaze Expo
Comikaze 2012 Recap – From the eyes of a new exhibitor – by Ed Ouano