Los Angeles Comic Con is approaching fast and the panel schedule is fully released. With two weeks left, plans need to be made by all guests, including myself. While working out my schedule as a press member at the convention, I was lucky enough to come into contact with Chris DeMoulin, CEO of Comikaze Entertainment. As the head of planning for Los Angeles Comic Con, he’s certainly busy this year. However, he took time from his packed schedule to give me an exclusive interview. Whether you’re a convention newbie or not, you’ll enjoy his insight into the world of cons.
Chris DeMoulin, happy to have you. You’ve been working as the CEO of Comikaze Entertainment for a while now, how did you get into that position?
Well, ya know, it’s a bit of a long story. Comikaze, the original name of Los Angeles Comic Con, was started in 2011 by some frustrated fans who weren’t able to get into more popular conventions. They wanted to create something by the fans, for the fans. Some time ago, my previous company and I started working with them, since we were in the licensing business for expos and such. They eventually bought into the convention shares. I went off on my own for a few years, but about 3 years ago they approached me and asked if I’d like to take over as CEO of L.A. Comic Con. Since then it’s been a great experience.
Most people at conventions like L.A. Comic Con are, understandably, nerdy. What is the Chris DeMoulin origin story?
Yeah, like many others I was, and am, a nerdy guy. I used to collect comics as a kid in the 70s, and I watched stuff like Star Wars in theaters. Back then, being a nerd wasn’t as common. Things like Marvel and the Avengers have made it so almost everyone out there has a least some nerd in them. I’m glad to see it. Working in this industry has really only strengthened my love of all things nerdy. I was able to meet Stan Lee a few years back since he bought into and sponsored Comikaze for a while. It was known as Stan Lee’s Comikaze at that time, not Los Angeles Comic Con. He was really great and definitely the coolest person I’ve met in the industry.
The current pandemic is going away, but there are still some dangers to it. What measures have you taken to ensure that L.A. Comic Con will be both a safe and fun experience?
We’ve been working very closely with the LA Public Health Board for the last eighteen months. All the guidelines and changes over time have been our top priority for the comeback. We require all L.A. Comic Con guests to show proof of vaccination or a negative test result within the last few days. Additionally, if someone loses their proof, we have a free rapid-testing area right outside. That way, they can still get in. There will be two layers of security, one for COVID screening and one for actual security checks. Though it’s a bit more lines, we’re confident we can get people through the door quickly.
What about fans of the convention who are still nervous about attending?
We do understand some fans are nervous about being in crowds still, so there are options for that. We’re offering a live streaming package for $20. It gives viewers an all-access pass to three streams going on at L.A. Comic Con. One at the main stage for our panels, one at the cosplay event, and one at our Tiltify e-sports arena. That way, they can still enjoy the convention from the comfort of their home. We are also in the works on a virtual Meta-verse so people can digitally explore the expo floor and even enter our shops to buy merch.
This year you’re expanding the convention by adding the West Hall. What can fans expect with the extra room?
That’s something we’re very excited about. L.A. Comic Con has always been this eclectic mixture of all pop culture. Anime, gaming, comics, movies, and so on. This year, we really wanted to bring in more of the gaming, anime, and e-sports culture. Thankfully, we were able to start working with PCB Productions, which works with a lot of voice talent over many different platforms. They’ve helped us secure special guests from 15 to 20 different shows and games. With the West Hall expansion, we were also able to place the main stage right in the middle of everything once guests enter L.A. Comic Con. That way, they can see what’s going on, maybe watch for a bit, and then go about their business. We love to support artists and creators, so giving them the extra room to meet fans was a major plus.
From your own perspective, what are you most excited about this year?
Well, it’s been about 26 months since our last live event. That in itself is pretty exciting. I’m thrilled to be able to bring people together again, both fans and creators alike, for another L.A. Comic Con. Not to mention the exhibits, since our artists have suffered from not being able to get exposure. It will be great for them to get out there, maybe sell some of their work, and see some smiling faces again. The magic of trade shows like this is we get to set up a small city for people like us to commune at. And then a couple of days later, it’s gone! It’s a really special experience, and we’re glad to be back at it.
Let’s get into some personal opinions, Chris. What special guests or events are you ecstatic about?
I think having Sideshow back will be great. They do a lot of fantastic art. Since it’s been about one-and-a-half years since they could display it, there’s a lot to show. We also have Frank Miller being interviewed by Gerard Way. Miller has done so much for the Batman character, and now Way is really picking up steam in comics. It’s a really cool passing of the torch moment. One industry giant to the next. We like to make these interviews as lax and enjoyable for the guests as possible, and guests pick who interview them. Guest-to-guest talks are something we’ve had the privilege of having a few times at L.A. Comic Con. It’s an awesome flow and interaction to see them chatting normally.
To finish us off, what do you, Chris DeMoulin, think makes L.A. Comic Con special?
Ooh, that’s a tough question to answer. Really, my opinion doesn’t matter. It’s the opinion of the fans, the attendees, and even our guests that matter. We at L.A. Comic Con pride ourselves on talking directly to the fans for new ideas. We’ll make social media posts asking for their feedback. What they liked, what they’d like more of, what they disliked; they’re all questions we want answers to. Our statistics show that 30% of attendees are parents with kids, and 40% are newcomers. With that in mind, we just want to make something that everyone can enjoy. Without our fans, this convention wouldn’t even be happening. Their opinions inspired a lot of our decisions this year. And we hope that what we have planned can really make the convention go-ers happy.
Thank you to Chris DeMoulin for taking time from his crazy schedule to have a nice talk about L.A. Comic Con. You can find more information, and buy tickets, at their official website.