WWLA: CBR Photo Parade - Part 2

There's nothing like 18 conventions in a two week period to get you behind on your work. Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but in the last four weeks the comics industry has seen conventions in New York, Orlando, San Francisco and last weekend's Wizard World LA. It's been an insane schedule, one contributing to the lateness of this latest photo parade.

Before we get to the photo parade, a quick report on Wizard World LA 2007. In some ways it was better than the very sparsely attended 2006 show and in other ways it wasn't as good. On the "not so good" side were the absences of a number of major publishers like DC Comics, Image Comics and Dark Horse Comics. Their lack of presence at the show was noticeable and it felt like a lighter show as a result, but that being said the likes of Marvel, IDW Publishing, Top Cow Studios, Aspen Studios, Silent Devil and many others helped pick up the slack.

Low attendance was something everyone I spoke with was concerned about. Friday afternoon, as the show opened, the floor quickly filled with those looking for convention exclusives, but once attendees picked up their wares it seemed they were done for the day (Are two hour lunches frowned upon in the corporate world?). By 2:00 in the afternoon, it was starting to get quiet and remained so for the rest of the day. Saturday was noticeably better, with a relatively healthy dose of con goers most of the day, although there's no comparison when put up against the recent New York Comic-Con or WonderCon in San Francisco.

Sunday I can't speak to as well as those other days as I got there late, due mostly to traffic in Downtown LA. I had planned on taking LA's lone subway down to the convention center, but I was running late Sunday morning and thought driving downtown would be faster. Big, big mistake. In addition to hosting Wizard World, the massive LA Convention Center was also host to a bridal expo, an American Inventor audition and the massive Dub Magazine Custom Auto Show. Because of this well attended show, the con center parking lot was sold out when I arrived at 1:00 PM and the close by parking I had on Saturday where I paid only $10 was now priced at $50. That wasn't happening. Due to traffic and the time it took to find decently priced parking that wasn't sold out, I spent almost an hour driving around downtown, ultimately landing at a parking lot 10 blocks away for $15. Not a completely offensive price, nor was the walk bad, but this is what happens when you have all that convention traffic, plus an early Sunday Lakers game at the Staples Center next door. It was pretty quiet on the convention floor once I arrived a little after 2:00 pm.

All that being said, it did appear that attendance was overall slightly healthier than the 2006 show, at least from my perspective. Tent pole panels like the "Heroes" panel on Saturday seemed to generate a lot of interest.

During the show, a number of retailers and professionals wondered whether a 2008 show would be justified based on the showing in 2007. They also wondered if moving it back to Long Beach would be a better idea, thinking people in LA refuse to go downtown. In the '80s and for most of the 90s, Los Angelinos did avoid downtown like the plague - outside of the main financial district, it was one of the most depressed portions of the city, but that's changed dramatically in the last 10 years. The addition of the Staples Center sports facility next door to the LA Convention Center was the first part of a multi-phase revitalization of downtown LA that has seen large numbers of people move back into the city center, with a number of new theaters and fine restaurants open in the area. Downtown is making a comeback and once construction is completed on the massive entertainment complex across the street, interest in the downtown area will grow exponentially. Arguments that people won't go to downtown LA don't hold a lot of weight anymore. But is moving back to Long Beach a better idea? It's hard to say - Long Beach was better set up to handle a consumer based show like Wizard World with familiar chain restaurants and plenty of hotel support close by, but it's just not Los Angeles.

One thing you have to remember with Los Angeles is the locals have access to media stars and comic creators year round. There are numerous media events held around town each week, from star studded movie openings to more intimate film and television screenings with creator and actor Q&As. Los Angeles is also home to many top comic creators, who often do signings around town at one of our many comic shops (within a five-to-ten minute drive of my home in Los Angeles, I have a choice of at least seven comic shops. Within a 20 minute drive of my house that number more than doubles.). For a show to be truly successful in Los Angeles, it has to be big in size, scope and focus. It has to be something really special.

Allright, enough blabbing from me. It's time for the photos. This first set of photos was taken by myself sporadically throughout the weekend, with the final set by CBR Staff Photographer Pinguino Kolb. Once again, obnoxious commentary provided by myself, so send the angry letters to me and not Pinguino!

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