Friday, October 25, 2019


[Originally written October 16th for an assignment.]

Los Angeles Comic Con took over the Los Angeles Convention Center last weekend for three days, with over 100,000 attendees spending over $14 million at the event. Debuting as “Comikaze Expo” in 2011 and later partnering with Marvel’s Stan Lee, the L.A. Comic Con is one of the most highly attended comic conventions in the world. Despite its label as a “comic book convention,” the exposition had a broad list of presenters and workshops that focus on general pop culture, including sci-fi, anime, and gaming. The main floor boasted over 800 exhibitors spread out over 720,000 square feet of exhibition space, many of whom took up residence in “Artists Alley,” a quarter of the floor dedicated to showcasing individual artists and their crafts.

One vendor, Shannon Nix, the owner and artist of a company called “Nerd Dollz,” sells crocheted dolls of popular characters ranging from Harley Quinn to Harry Potter. She paid over three thousand dollars for a 10-by-10’ booth this year, but says it’s worth it. “I paid extra for a corner. People don’t always walk down the alley, so if you can get a spot on the end, you’ll double your business,” she explained. Nix says that renting a booth as an exhibitor serves a dual function: advertising and sales, with advertising often taking precedent. “We give out a lot of palm flyers,” she said. “There’s always an uptick in business in the months after [a big convention].”

Nix isn’t the only one for whom Comic Con generates business. Ben Paddon, a YouTube content creator who sat on a panel about invisible illnesses in the entertainment industry, says he can count on a huge number of new subscribers any time he sits on a panel. “People who see you and hear you in person, they feel like they know you. That makes them hit the like button,” he said. Another panelist, Chris Buskirk, is a restaurant owner who engaged in a discussion on board gaming; by his estimation, he gave out over 500 discount cards to his establishment.

Whether exhibitors and panelists are selling a product, promoting a brand, or publicizing an establishment, there’s one thing all of them can agree on.

“You don’t really get to take bathroom breaks,” said Nix. “Every minute you’re talking to someone, either interacting with someone or preparing for the next customer, so bathroom breaks aren’t part of your time management. We just go when the floor closes.”

This sentiment was echoed by cosplayer Amber Arden, who attended the convention dressed as Cinderella's fairy godmother in a large, white ball gown. “If your outfit takes an hour to put on, go to the bathroom first. ...once it’s on, that’s it,” she said. When asked how cosplayers go to the bathroom, she shrugged, stating simply, “No one goes to the bathroom at Comic Con.”

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