LA Comic Con: Highlights from the First Convention Back

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Zachary Levi at LA Comic Con, December 2021. Photo by Stephanie Overton

Last December, LA Comic Con made its return amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This convention is one of the closest to Las Vegas and is easy for UNLV students to travel to. 

The December convention was LA Comic Con’s first time back since Oct. 2019. 

LA Comic Con saw 94,900 fans show up over the Dec. 3-5 weekend, which was a decline compared to the numbers from 2019, which show a turn out of 123,000. 

Even with the decline in attendance, the convention was a huge success. The showrunners had safety protocols in place: masks were worn throughout the entire convention, and proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test from within 72 hours of the event was required to enter. 

According to the numbers, the bulk of the attendance decline came from kids age 2-11, which does make sense, given the fact that vaccines are not yet available for that age group. The decline for that age group was about 74%, almost 21,000 fewer. 

“There was a sense of joyous relief among fans, exhibitors and talent to be back,” Chris DeMoulin, CEO at Comikaze Entertainment, L.A. Comic Con’s parent company, told LA Comic Con Press on Dec. 10. “We couldn’t be more thrilled that nearly 95,000 fans were able to join us this past weekend.”

The weekends were filled with panels, cosplays, shopping, and plenty of exhibits for anyone who attended. One of the main exhibits over the weekend was The Star Trek Experience. Over 35,000-square feet of exhibit space was dedicated to all-things Star Trek. More than 20 cast members from across all of Trek attended. 

The West Hall of the Convention Center featured eSports, gaming, and anime, with a focus on Twitch streaming.

Many attended a few of the numerous panels that the convention offered over the weekend. Rob Liefeld, the creator of Deadpool, recorded an episode of Robservations, his long-running podcast, where he talked about cosplays and how important cosplay has become to the fandom experience. He even brought a group of Deadpool cosplayers up on stage with him.

Zachary Levi (who appeared in Shazam!, Chuck, Tangled) took to the stage for a Q&A session with the audience. Many saw him speak in depth about Disney Parks, Chuck, and who would win in a fight between his character Shazam and Henry Cavill’s Superman. 

During his panel, Levi took time in the middle of his Q&A to remind everyone how important it is to take care of yourself mentally. 

“Mental health is like dental health, take care of yourself regularly,” Levi said.

Actors taking such initiative to combat or bring awareness to such serious things as mental health issues is always great to see, especially by such a big name with a lot of influence. 

Another panel that many enjoyed over the weekend was the Boy Meets World panel. Rider Strong (who played Shawn), Will Friedle (Eric), and William Daniels (Mr. Feeny) came to talk to fans about the hit show which ended 20 years ago. They spent the half-hour panel reminiscing about the show, with Strong calling it a kind of “schizophrenic show, both funny and serious.” 

According to Friedle, the show had a professional air on set, which not a lot of kids’ shows have had in the past. What really worked about the show and made it so successful was the “idea that the show took itself seriously and had so much heart,” Friedle noted. 

Strong commented that at the heart of the show was a very important message about a found or chosen family, and the (at the time) new idea that if you have a bad home life, friendship can almost replace your parents. He said you can always find someone who will have your back and become your family. 

Overall, with the safety precautions in place, the convention was considered by attendees to be a success. DeMoulin notes that 98% of attendees came with proof of vaccination or a negative test, and of the 2% who were provided free tests on site, only 7 tested positive and were immediately sent home. 

“Only three attendees were made to leave because they refused to remain masked once inside the show,” DeMoulin said.
Exhibitors reported meeting their sales goals, and over one-third re-booked to come back to LA Comic Con in 2022, according to LA Comic Con Press. With the West Coast helping lead the way for the return of conventions, Las Vegas can be expected to have many events return in the near future.

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