For the hell of it I wandered my way to LA to go to Comikaze – a new-ish comic and pop culture expo that was branded with Stan Lee this year for the first time (it has only run once before).
I had fun, for the most part. It started quite poorly with management of the lines. Seriously, I spent half an hour trying to figure out where to line up, then another hour and a half lined up outside not going anywhere in a huge-arse line – despite the fact I’d already bought a ticket. It was stupidly hot (even for an Australian) and there was no water anywhere… and loads of people with kids. So I promptly went screw this shit and went back to my hotel to read, rehydrate and grumble about it for awhile. I wandered back at about 3pm and had no worries getting in then, so that was nice, if a little frustrating. I can’t even begin to imagine how the poor sellers must have felt, dealing with such a grumpy crowd and presumably empty morning.
I’m staying in the same hotel as a few of the organisers, so I should mention that (in the hotel’s public laundry) I ended up talking to a lady involved about this issue. She commented that her company had only taken over the running of the event three months ago, and weren’t made aware of a whole pile of ticket sales. That, plus issues with the fire wardens freaking out, somewhat complicated the huge crowds and slowed their reaction time. This explains a lot about the running of the show, but probably doesn’t excuse the poor social media handling of all the problems.
As a seperate issue, the reason I’m pretty wary of conventions and geek spaces in general was out in full force. The boys that loudly judge and have somewhat offensive opinions on the various cosplayers (and other women), the boys that knock and lean into you with no apology. The usual response of being ignored or slighted for being a nerdy girl with an opinion – or being gently pressured away from the comics you are sorting through because you can’t ‘really’ be into that. Being by myself also meant I had to be good, and not punch or swear at anyone (a change in attitude that has never really suited me). This is not the fault the organisers, just the behaviour of people, exacerbated by the fact I didn’t know anyone and a poor mood after the line business.
I think perhaps I was a little too spoiled by Geek Girl Con, which was remarkable in its absence of this behaviour, as well as smaller crowds. Plus, a month of road tripping to relatively isolated areas and not really talking to anyone probably hasn’t helped.
Thankfully, not all of the convention was like this. I had a genuinely good time once I managed to tune out the annoyances. I did get angry enough to take a snapshot of some of the especially offensive fanart around though. Cheesecake worries me a hell of a lot less, even in excess, than this thoughtless bullshit.
I got to meet the lovely and amazing Eliza Frye. I absolutely love her work. I came to it through Kickstarter when I put money towards Regalia, a book she wrote and drew. It was such a beautiful and surreal collection of ponderings on sexuality and love, I read it over a year ago and it still comes back and haunts me. As a result, I have four of her prints on my loungeroom wall and may have bought more on this occasion (as well as more of her postcards because damn, people love those). I freaked out my workplace by using her pictures as desktop backgrounds too. Some day, I will have to write a more detailed review. But yes, check out her stuff and know that she is awesome in person.
There were some very cool comic book collectors’ stalls. I picked up an obscene number of 90s Superboy, Green Arrow II, early Birds of Prey and vol. 1 Catwoman comics for US$1 each. It is probably going to cost me double the amount I paid for them to send those home.
I also got to meet the lovely @tarastrong who has been involved in pretty much every animated TV show I care about (including voicing Raven in Teen Titans, Babs in Batman:TAS, and Harley in Arkham City). This was mostly me being an awesome ‘aunt’ and housemate to my teenage half-step-defacto Nephew, who is a massive brony which is adorable, so I got him a signed and personalised picture.
Meeting the @Superherologist and getting a chance to buy his book Batman and Psychology was pretty cool as well. I missed his panel though, due to the line issue at the beginning of the expo, so I was pretty pissed about that. Still, he said to tweet him my thoughts, which was pretty brave!
I also found two new Nightwing shirts! They’re still just in men’s cuts (which really tend to fit me a little oddly) but this means I now have three Nightwing shirts! Including one of the new Nightwing, which doesn’t actually look too bad on me.
The Womanthology panel was excellent. I love this project and the discussion it brings, even if I get frustrated at times with the Whedon worship. I was blown away by how well Barbara Kesel handles an audience, she was unbelievably quick and witty. Nicole Sixx, who I’d seen around on the internet before, also impressed me quite a lot with her thoughts. I managed to get most of the girls’ signatures, but unfortunately I was an idiot after GGC and sent my Womanthology sketchbook back to Australia. Instead, I got a page signed in my notebook, which I will probably glue into the book when I get home.
I have to add that it was amazing how, despite the gender ratio not actually being that different in the Womanthology room, the atmosphere was completely different. It was easily the most fun I had, and I was able to relax and socialise so much more easily than I had been able to for the rest of the convention, which was pretty sweet. I hope this project continues to provide that space, inspire girls and encourage nerdy men to show that more thoughtful side of their nature.
All and all, an interesting experience and good warm up for New York Comic Con.