William Lee is a graduate of UC Irvine and Chapman with degrees in Film Studies and Screenwriting. He has held a life-long passion for all things geeky including comics, film, toys, and video games. He was previously a Senior Reviewer for over a decade with Movie Metropolis (formerly DVD Town). Will is a regular of the convention scene in Southern California and has been attending cons since 1993. You can also find him on Facebook as William D. Lee Photography

LA Comic Con returned to Downtown LA for its 12th annual convention the first weekend of December and welcomed over 122,000 guests. The event has grown from its humble beginnings inside the underground parking lot of Kentia Hall when it was originally known as Comikaze Expo. 

2023 saw the most optimal use of the space available at the Los Angeles Convention Center with the West Hall housing the primary exhibit hall and the main stage. Anyone looking for a respite and a bite to eat could step outside to visit the beer garden and a variety of food trucks. In previous years, the South Hall focused on gaming, but this time LACC added additional vendors and an autograph area dedicated to voice over actors. The corridor between buildings was reserved for photo ops and autographs with special celebrity guests.

This year marked a reunion of the hobbits with Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd in attendance for signings and a Saturday panel. Ahsoka cast members Natasha Liu Borizzo, Ivanna Sakhno, Diana Lee Inosanto, and Eman Esfandi discussed the fun they had shooting the series, including inadvertently making their own sound effects, and working with the late, great Ray Stevenson. If that wasn’t enough for Star Wars fans, Lateef Crowder and Brendan Wayne, Din Djarin’s doubles from The Mandalorian, were also on hand. Alumni from The Office have been frequent guests and this year brought Rainn Wilson (Dwight) and Paul Lieberstein (Toby). Taking questions from fans, the two actors spoke about their favorite interactions and moments from the award-winning sitcom. Other celebrity guests for 2023 were Erin Moriarty and Karen Fukuhara from The Boys, Emily Rudd from the live-action One Piece, Jamie Campbell Bower, former Power Rangers Billy Yost & Amy Jo Johnson, and Matt Smith.

Artists Alley featured a diverse mix of independent talents and major names who’ve worked for DC, Marvel, and Image. Invincible artist Ryan Ottley had some of the longest lines of any creator, along with Skottie Young, and Jason Aaron, who’s run on Thor was loosely adapted into Thor: Love and Thunder. While Marvel Comics itself wasn’t officially present at LACC, they did present their first ever panel at LACC with current Spidey writers Dan Slott, Zeb Wells, and Cody Ziglar, along with artist Ryan Stegman as they broke down current storylines going on in the Spider-titles.

Notably missing from the main exhibit hall was Hot Topic, who had been a main sponsor of the convention in the past. Their booth also saw heavy foot traffic as they sold numerous convention exclusives, including limited edition Funko Pops. They pulled out for 2023, along with Loungefly, which had a large presence last year with their own selection of con exclusive backpacks. Hopefully, this allowed attendees to spend their money with other vendors.

Perhaps, the most bizarre booth on the con floor belonged to Commerce Gluttony, whose display of faux slabs of meat resembled a scene from Rocky. However, these sides of beef aren’t for punching, but for comfort. Yes, the company sells body pillows and even shelving that resembles meat. While major toy companies like Hasbro, Mattel, and Sideshow refuse to grace Los Angeles with their presence, smaller brands gladly took the opportunity to display their wares. Harvinger Studios presented Savage Crucible, a line of highly detailed fantasy figures in the vein of the Four Horsemen. The figures included shark-like humanoids with armor and swords that could pass as Mer-Man’s underwater forces. Jada Toys was also present with their licensed properties, such as famous mascots Chester Cheetah and Count Chocula. They also displayed several waves of Mega Man and Street Fighter II characters.

As always, cosplay was in full effect with some of the more popular characters being Barbie and various incarnations of Spider-Man. Most elaborate seen at LACC included a “floating” Scarlet Witch on stilts, a group of Egyptian gods from Moon Knight, and live-size versions of Goro and Rhino.

LA Comic Con returns to its October roots next year as the convention takes place from Oct. 4 thru 6. For more photos from LACC 2023, check out my Flickr Album.

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