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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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03/19/2006 Archived Entry: "Wizard World LA 2006"

Wizard World LA 2006
Los Angeles Convention Center

Report by Ginger Mayerson

So, okay, I wasn't going to go. Okay, then WW moved it from Long Beach to downtown LA. Okay, so I decided to fill out the press forms and go, but press registration link from the main page didn't work. I sent an email, saying I was trying to get to that page, and got an email back saying there'd be a press pass waiting for me at the convention. Wow, I thought, thank you, Wizard World LA! Why isn't everything this easy?

So, Saturday morning I wander down to the Los Angeles Convention center. This is much easier for me than Long Beach, and the two years I went to LB, the police closed the part of the freeway that goes directly to the Convention Center. I think the freeway was closed because it was the same weekend as the LB Grand Prix race. Anyway, I got to see more of LB than I wanted to, but eventually got there.

But LA is my town, so I had to problem getting to the CC. Parking at the CC is $10, but it's easy. Press pass, check. I'm goin' in. The first thing that stuck me was that there was carpet on the floor, not installed, just huge pieces of low low pile black shag on the floor. They must throw this carpet away after every convention. As at LB, the PA announcements are LOUD, but, unlike LB, due to the size of the room, are impossible to understand. I did hear the word "Funimation" and the word "upstairs" so I decided to investigate. They distribute "Fullmetal Alchemist," which I'm trying very hard not to like very much.

The Funimation panel was on a motion capture feature film (from a series [I think]) called "Tony Hawk, Boom Boom Sabotage" in which skater punk extraordinaire Tony is kidnapped for some reason by circus freaks and has to be rescued by skater punks. Should be a big hit with both groups. The demonstration of how they capture the motion was very interesting. However, I was lost in a tidal wave of nostalgia; you see, in the mid-late-70s, my little brother was doing the skater thing. I those days they skated in empty swimming pools, and then in these concrete valley skate park thingys, and being a good sister, I went out and took pictures of him and his pals skating (and falling down, but those pictures were suppressed). So, I was shocked to see what a big business the whole skater thing had become. I thought the skater thing had gone the way of the Betamax, Gunny Sax dresses and Leonid Brezhnev. I thought all the skater stuff was just those kids falling down in deserted shopping courtyards; I had no idea that at this point in history it was even possible that there was even such a thing as famous skaters out there. I admit I don't get out much, and this might be why.

But it was interesting and the guys I talked to afterwards at the Funimation table were totally nice. They were Ben Burden Smith, the Story and Skate Producer, and Casey Kwan, the Production Design/CG Supervisor. I'm supposed to "get in touch" and might write more, depending on what they send me to write about.

I like any kind of animation if it's well done or has soul. I even own a copy of "The Incredibles," and I think this "Tony Hawk" thing might be highly watchable, if only for the technique. Based on the teasers I saw, I think I'd enjoy the visuals, but might end up rooting for the circus freaks.

I never actually got to the Wayans Brothers' panel that I wanted to attend because it never started. Or maybe it started after I got bored and wandered off. They're doing some kind of comic; I looked at it and decided it was nice, but not $4 worth of nice.

I was starving so I got a $6 cheesburger (no fries) and a $2 bottle of water. The other option was greasy pizza, also overpriced. I wonder if it would kill the convention center to have a stir-fry and sushi place; they'd certainly get my business. I'm just not tough enough to eat convention food anymore.

On the exhibitors floor, I ran into the fabulous Mike Wellman of Atomic Basement. I hadn't seen him since APE 2005 and WW LA 2005 before that. He's busy as usual; he has a new Mac Afro comic in the works and is teamed up with Brad Rader (they worked on TEX together) at DotNewsMagazine for another political comic, oh, somewhere on the site. It's always great to see Mike, he's always so cheerful and wry at the same time; it's amazing.

I looked around the floor a little more, but it was crowded and nothing really caught my eye. The guys at the Press desk said they moved to LA from LB because they outgrew LB. I wonder; they had the gamers in with the exhibitors and still didn't fill the one hall they had in the South Hall (there was a home show in the other hall [hey, skater punks vs. circus freaks, why not interior decorators vs. fanboys? Well, someone has to think these thoughts]).

So, then I went home and later went to an art opening where none of the work was labeled. Thank God William Roper paints good pictures and signs them. They were the best things in the show, except maybe the guy playing a brandy snifter glass harmonica. The rest of it, I really didn't understand, especially the polyurethane sculptures made, sorry, cast in bunt cake pans and jello molds. They were unsigned or I'd do a web search and try to figure them out. Okay, I wouldn't, but I can't, so there.

Sunday, I drove way around the LA Marathon route to get to the convention center. Those Wizard World boys can't catch a break in So Cal: in LB the Grand Prix messed up the access; in LA it's the Marathon that closes most of downtown north of the CC. Now, this is my town, but even I got a little lost going south on Alameda, to Pico, no Pico doesn't go through, must use Washington, wow, that's where LA Trade Tech is, where the hell am I? Well, I got there, and I watched "Lupin the Third: Missed by a Dollar," which was pretty good. This greed head chick corners the market on oil production and decides to start a war, not kidding, but there's some magic amulet involved, which didn't make a lot of sense, but there was a monk with a sword and gun guy, Lupin was pretty annoying; I think the 12-year old set would love it. Funimation again; they were the only anime publisher/company I saw at WW LA. I think it would behoove the WW organization to get more of these anime and manga companies to come on board for LA; they certainly have room, and they'd get a bigger, wackier crowd. I know Digital Manga Publisher and TOKOYOPOP have operations in LA and would liven things up if they were at WW LA.

After "Lupin..." I wandered through the exhibit hall again, hoping in the seriously thinned crowd I'd see something, I dunno, exciting! Or something. I was looking for Mike Wellman because I wanted to ask him how the show in LA compared with the previous years in LB. He liked LB better because there was nightlife and he'd go out with whomever after the show. In LA, he just goes home. He also mentioned the overloud incomprehensible PA announcements and the quarter empty exhibit hall. Mike said the crowd was as good as ever, though, and that's the main reason he does this con.

Mike introduced me to Anna Warren Boersig of Illusive Arts Entertainment in the booth next to his. Her firm produces, among other things, a fumetti cartoon called "Dorothy." No, I have no idea what it's about; someone named Dorothy, I suppose. Anyway, Anna is a lovely person and a WW LA veteran. She had the same issues as Mike about the lack of restaurants or coffee places outside and around the convention center (it's true, it's a kind of wasteland out there on South Fig [they are building a hotel entertainment complex near the Staples Center, but that will just make the traffic situation even more of a nightmare for the poor devils who have to drive through there]). She said service was fabulous at the con hotel, the Holiday Inn, but had had some difficulty booking for the con and wished WW had been a little more organized about the hotel aspect. She also wished the loading situation was easier, but in my admittedly limited con experience, I've heard that from nearly everyone at every con I've been to, except APE; the APE machine seems to work well for some reason (because it's small? Hm). Anna thought the layout of the exhibit hall could have been better arranged. She felt that there was synergy between Artist Alley and the Small Presses and that if they were closer to each other, they could feed off each other's mojo. I don't disagree; I didn't see the point of having the dealers clustered in the middle of the hall either. And Spike TV, turn it down before you get WW class-action sued for damaging attendees' hearing. Anna had some other observations, but they elude me now. Both she and Mike didn't feel that the con had really grown in exhibitors or attendance. I couldn't really tell; last year the gamers were in a different hall in LB and the comics exhibitors didn't fill the hall they were in either. I dunno, seemed like the dealers outnumbered everyone else this year.

While I was talking to Anna, a lady dressed as a princess (I think) joined us. She's a friend of Anna's and her costume made me realize that hardly anyone was in costume at WW LA. Why is that? There were a few Imperial Storm Troopers, a Thing, and this princess lady, and that was all I saw. I think the lack of costumes is a symptom of what's wrong with WW LA; it's not a playful con. People in costume are fun to look at and to watch how much fun they're having. WW LA has the comic book store vibe; gamers and fanboys welcome, everyone else is on their own.

Now, I have nothing against gamers and fanboys if they have nice manners and are well-groomed and vote Democrat, but WW LA organizers could you at least get some manga publishers (yes, and yaoi manga, too) for diversity and so the rest of us can feel more welcome? And toys! And more small presses because there isn't anything like SPX on the west coast and APE seems to be in decline. And locate the dealers on the other side of the gamers because people looking for vintage comics are very different cats from those looking for new work. And what about an adults only section? You can put it upstairs to control access if you don't want it where the kiddies might stumble in and get an eyeful. Hey, No Minors Allowed.

I don't know what WW LA can do about the nightlife, unless you can somehow have a cabaret in the CC on Friday and Saturday nights. That strip of south Figueroa is so deserted at night, it's not the safest place to be roaming around after dark. Even for an LA woman like me.

And speaking of women, I don't have numbers, but I think there were fewer women at this WW LA than the one before and the one before that. I dunno, there are things I like about WW LA, which is why I keep going, but I think it could be a little more interesting for me if there were more publishers, large and small, and Artist Alley didn't look quite so desolate. Oh well.

Will I go next year? Probably.

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