Wow Ultimate Con-Wars is heating up with this interview with LA Inc SVP Senior Vice President Michael Krouse and AVP of Media Relations & Communications Carol Martinez. Krouse is the driving force behind LA’s bid for the San Diego Comic-Con — an ongoing wooing that Krouse has been pressing for years. And in this interview he lays it all on the line, baby, he”ll work.

And I’m going to be very blunt with you too: we’re not doing this deal in the media. Anaheim and San Diego – San Diego just woke up and put out that offer a day late and a dollar short, in my view. Our offer’s been out there for five years. And our offer is superior to their offer. I won’t say all the details because I’m not going to play this all out in the media, but I will say that that offer is a chump change offer. It’s kind of an afterthought to me. It’s like, “We think we’re going to lose it, so we’re going to throw a few bucks out there.” And I’ve got to be honest with you, to Comic-Con it isn’t just about that. That’s how I interpret it. It’s all about “How can we grow and enhance the show?” And my primary mission here is to grow and enhance that show. If I can’t improve that show for Comic-Con and for your industry here in Los Angeles, then I would not pursue this show. And I would not have busted my rear end for five years to do it if I couldn’t present them with that option. My offer today is only improved by the fact that I have A.E.G. and the LA Live development in partnership with me.

Krouse makes a persuasive, tireless effort to persuade us that the area surrounding the LA Convention Center is a bustling metropolis of pedestrian thoroughfares and gracious boulevards. Unfortunately this was easily disproved, (or was last time we were there, two years ago) by actually walking outside the convention center, which admittedly, is a fantastic convention facility.

Krouse mentions the 17,000 seat LA Sports Arena and 7,000 seat Nokia Theater adjoining the LACC as potential event venues, and granted, that would be very handy and useable.

§ In other con news, Cartoon Brew’s Amid Amidi calls shenanigans on a $200 charge for extra exhibitor badges.

The San Diego Comic-Con is pushing forward with its misguided agenda of appeasing corporate interests at the expense of alienating the indie comic and animation community. Their latest bone-headed move is to increase the price of additional exhibitor Comic-Con badges to $200 each, up from $75 last year. As anybody who has ever exhibited at Comic-Con can tell you, artists typically don’t earn truckloads of money at the event, and when all the costs of booth rental, travel, and lodging are factored in, the obscene $200 exhibitor badge essentially guarantees that an independent artist will leave the convention empty-handed.

It’s been quite a few years since we were exhibitors, but last time we were you got 4 exhibitor badges for a 10×10 booth. Is this no longer the case? It’s debatable whether this is a move to appease corporate interests so much as SOCKING IT TO THEM, as it’s the big studios who need lots and lots of exhibitor badges to run their giveaways and limbo contests and public stonings and what not. At any rate, it clear that exhbitor badges, like everything else to do with the con, are being abused by the wrong element, and a crack down is the result.


  1. Los Angeles? The Los Angeles Convention center in crammed into the busy downtown area which has bad traffic and parking problems. I stopped going to Wizardworld LA when they relocated to the LA Convention Center.

  2. A lot has changed in downtown L.A. in the past two years. L.A. Live has really given the area a shot in the arm, adding a bunch of great restaurants, a nice open area, parking, a great modern movie theater complex, and two very large hotels. Beyond that, the entire downtown area is really coming up, the arts district and Broadway in particular. Transit also is improving with Metro lines and a modern streetcar (Portland-style) is set to start circulating in 2014. The difference for me is that the L.A. officials really want the show, while San Diego has taken it for granted.

  3. Well, a look at Google Maps shows lots of restaurants and hotels, especially if include Downtown, which is not that far away.

    C2E2 had even less nearby, yet that didn’t keep people from going elsewhere for food and drink (and that’s a good thing, spreading out demand over a larger area).

    Reed Pop has experience running shows in LA (Lance Fensterman ran Book Expo there a few years ago). If CCI doesn’t move, there is an excellent opportunity for Reed.

  4. “It’s been quite a few years since we were exhibitors, but last time we were you got 4 exhibitor badges for a 10×10 booth. Is this no longer the case?”

    I don’t know any particulars about this show, but it is inconceivable to me that an exhbitor would not automatically recieve some allottment of badges just be being an exhibitor. (Whether that’s four badges per 10×10 space, or two, or ten, or whatever, I’m sure it’s not zero.)

    That being the case, I think you’re right and take the convention at their word that this is a move to discourage big exhibitors from overbuying extra badges, and not an attempt at gouging independent artists who may exhibit (and, heck, who might also qualify for professional registration, no?)

  5. The $200 cost is for additional exhibitor badges above the 4 you get for a booth, 2 for a table, and 1 for artists alley.

    For $100, you can instead use your allotment for additional attending memberships (with exhibitor access).

    For trying to recruit additional help for a fan table, it is definitely prohibitive.

  6. That cost for exhibitor badges is BRUTAL. Set up and closing down a table/booth can be crazy stressful without the help of some friends. One year we cheaped out and didn’t get extra exhibitor badges and my friend who was helping me carry boxes back to the car got roughed up by the security folks for not having the right kind of badge. So ever since we’ve paid the extra fees for more exhibitor badges. But I don’t know if we could afford to.

  7. I now get “Staff of…” badges as my extra exhibitor badges. So as different people help out over the course of the show, I can always have a full staff. I am going to buy 2 extra badges this year and I will just buy 2 attendee badges, I dont think anyone with a 10×10′ booth needs more then 4 people in the morning to get set up. For that matter by the time Sunday rolls around and I am taking down the booth pretty much everyone that helps out will have headed home……

    And these new rules don’t keep out any Pros, you can still register to get in for FREE if you have anything to do with comics or the popular arts.

  8. The San Diego offer is a chump-change afterthought. But LA is an over-crowded landlocked oven state that time of year and the convention center is absolutely DWARFED by San Diego’s.

    Downtown LA is absolutely fabulous if you love homeless people and all of those overpriced restaurants he mentioned. But for me, I’d vote to stay in San Diego.

  9. I’m tired of hearing comments about how dirty Los Angeles is. I’m tired of hearing how there’s NOTHING in L.A. REALLY??!?!?! and what’s with the comments about all of the homeless people? Seriously? RUDE. Like San Diego doesn’t have homeless people sleeping right by the train tracks ACROSS THE STREET from the convention center. People have seriously racist stereotypical views of Los Angeles and it’s disgusting.

    How come no one mentions the SMELLS of San Diego in the early morning (tons and tons of garbage everywhere) or the cockroaches that are the size of small children?

    The bottom line is, the majority of people who go to Con are in the Los Angeles area. L.A. is much easier to get to then San Diego. If we don’t have to spend the money on travel expenses and hotels, we can spend it INSIDE AT the CON WITH the exhibitors. Less money spent on hotels, means MORE money spent on STUFF inside the convention center.
    It means being able to buy MORE COMIC BOOKS.

    Don’t get me wrong, we LOVE San Diego. I’m just tired of hearing about how bad Los Angeles is. When we go to Con, we go to go to Con. We don’t go to explore San Diego. WE GO TO CON. We live, eat, sleep and breathe it. Yes, we stay in the hotels. Yes, we eat in the restaurants. BUT the majority of the time that we are there is spent INSIDE the convention center. Isn’t the convention itself what we are there for??

  10. Um, I go there to explore San Diego. Hell, by Saturday I prefer to avoid the madness of the con if at all possible. I also tie in exploration of Los Angeles on the trip since that’s where I fly in to. I’ve shelled out enough to be in the region that I want to see more than the inside of a convention center. I think LA has some really nice areas and I’ve never seen a cockroach in San Diego.

    So my vote is for San Francisco.

  11. Los Angeles Convention Center:
    720K sq.ft. exhibition
    147K sq.ft. meeting

    San Diego Convention Center:
    615.7K sq.ft. exhibition
    204K sq.ft. meeting

    Personally, I find it easier to move around the L.A. convention center. San Diego is linear, and requires a shuttle bus to get from one end to the other quickly. To get from the exhibition floor to the upstairs panel rooms… ugh.

  12. I hope the CCI board have retain enough of their comic/sf/film “freaks and geeks” to resist the Hard Sell of that LA flack. Really, selling the Hollywood Industry angle when there’s all this [Net] chatter about Comic-Con losing its COMIC roots??
    CCI Board: Resist the Dark Side– there still is Good in Comic-Con…

    As for the increase of price in extra Exhibitors badges— perhaps the Beat can do a service for readers here and report on just how many passes does SDCC hand out to
    attending Exhibitors before counting those “extra” ones— and compare that to the policies in place for WIZARD WORLD and REED POP GROUP at their conventions?

    In addition, I think it’ll be instructive/illuminating to compare A/B/C just what prices ARE being charged
    by CCI, WIZARD and REED for space on their
    Exhibition Floor… from the megabooths of MARVEL/DC/DARK HORSE to the smaller Indie creator tables.

  13. Lulz at the ‘racist stereotypes’ No one said anything about race. Projecting much?

    Homeless numbers aside, I live in LA and it is dirty. Not to mention hot and congested.

    Sure I’d like to save money on hotels but then that would mean I’d have to drive myself or rely on LA public transportation. Both of which I’d gladly spend COPIOUS amounts of money to avoid doing.

    No thanks.

  14. I always encourage people going to to the con to take time away from the show (for their sanity) to do something else.

    see the Padres (if you are there early in the week), go to Balboa Park, go to the zoo, go to Horton Plaza, and so on.

    All comics and no break is what turns people into babymen.

  15. I live in L.A. and would get free parking in the area, but L.A. would not be my first choice. Its definitely not an area I’d hang out around at night. And really, whoever says the Sport Arena is conveniently located near the convention must be able to fly. However, it is a good point that its getting better and who knows how good it will be in the next couple years.

  16. I also wonder if any of the medium to small publishers will make their talent get pro badges rather than just get them exhibitor badges due to the price increase.

    I could see Publisher X not wanting to shell out a couple grand for badges for people just so they can get in early and avoid waiting in line as people with “just” pro badges have to do.

  17. >>L.A. is much easier to get to then San Diego.<<

    As long as you don't use the 10, the 5, the 405, the 101 or any of the other freeways. And if you don't drive between 5 am and 12 am, then yes, LA is a breeze to get to.
    And, as a former LA resident, you may be alarmed to discover that there are SMELLS, nasty smells in Los Angeles. And homeless. And cockroaches.
    LA has lots of great things going for it, but it's a lousy site for CCI.
    And really, the argument that a location move to the vicinity of Hollywood will bring out more stars baffles me. Does the distance of Cannes, or Sundance mean those are just Podunk yokel fests? Do industry personnel avoid Toronto because they can't get an IceBlended at CoffeeBean? I've never understood why being close was that great an asset.
    Of course I also think that the LA Inc guy was a complete tool, so there you go.

  18. Hahahah. I agree with everything mpneeb said. Especially with regards to the proximity to Hollywood and the LA Inc guy being a toolbag.

  19. Stay in San Diego. If you’re gonna move it, don’t move it to L.A.

    or swap Wonder-Con and CCI so that CCI is in San Francisco and Wonder Con is in San Diego and use the entire Moscone Center.

  20. San Diego as a location is the entire reason San Diego Comicon has grown to the size it has.

    I attend the show as an artist year in and out precisely because it’s such a beautiful, artsy, laid back, peaceful city, and has such a perfect and cool but sunny climate. We make it our vacation, as well as work, making it a week and a half trip.

    LA is hot, crowded, full of traffic snarls and crime- and is just awful, compared to SD.

    It’s insane that such a wildly successful, vibrant show would even consider moving out from this near perfect venue.

    SD is expanding. The convention site itself is expanding. SD has more viable room to expand than LA to begin with. The moving idea makes zero sense, among the most assinine ideas I’ve ever heard of.

    It’s the perfect example of the grass looking greener elsewhere, when in fact, the cow is already fat and and is very well taken care of in the perfectly lovely field it already grazes in.

    If a move is made, bye-bye to comicon for this comic book artist, and everyone else I’ve talked to about this. No one I know plans to attend an LA comicon.

    This is one of the very worst ideas ever to be seriously considered in comic-dom.

  21. It would be foolhardy to underestimate the draw San Diego is for a large number of convention goers.

    LA is fun to visit but every trip must be planned way in advance due to the nightmare traffic congestion. Think of the traffic traffic coming south on the 405 during the con then imagine that traffic instead swarming to downtown LA. Also, unlike SD, LAX is not a hop from downtown. I have attended both small and medium one day events in LA and in all cases traffic was a big issue. This would be several degrees magnitude bigger taking place over 5 days.

    I recall how difficult it was to find parking just to see the Masters of Comic Art show downtown.

    If LA can do it better, then why dont they host a con now to demonstrate how greater it can be than San Diego?

    OH wait…

    SD as a city takes comic con for granted, yeah. Like LA as a city would care.

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