In the heart of Los Angeles, a glimmer of hope shines through the turmoil of a city deeply affected by two ongoing strikes in its largest industry. L.A. Comic Con, the LA-born event for pop culture, entertainment, gaming and anime enthusiasts, just announced its annual return, offering a beacon of light in these challenging times. As tens of thousands of Angelinos find their livelihoods put on hold due to ongoing strikes, the future of these conventions become ever more significant in the entertainment landscape.
For the first time since 1960, The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) are both on strike simultaneously, pledging support for each other’s causes against the mistreatment from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which includes frustrations over poor streaming residuals, lack of job security, and the increased investment into artificial intelligence to replace actors and writers. With WGA representing over 11,500 screenwriters and SAG-AFTRA representing over 160,000 actors, Hollywood productions and media appearances will remain at a standstill for the time being. But amidst the tumultuous negotiations, passionate protests, and expressions of solidarity from fellow creatives, the potential for fans and striking actors/writers to connect is still very much on the table.
Chris DeMoulin, CEO/GM of Los Angeles Comic Con parent company Comikaze Entertainment, today publicly expressed his support for the ongoing strikes as L.A. Comic Con announces the beginning of its early-bird ticket sale, along with the initial talent line up. “In this time of strike in Hollywood, we want to emphasize that we support unions and union members, and their right to strike for better working conditions,” said DeMoulin in today’s press release. “We are working with the talent and their representatives to make sure that all of our booking, panels and promotion this year fully conform with SAG-AFTRA guidelines for conventions.”
The talent pool includes fan-favorites from previous years, including Amy Jo Johnson, David Yost, Elijah Wood and Tom Kenny. Most notably, one of the lead strike negotiators for SAG-AFTRA, Sean Astin, will once again make an appearance at L.A. Comic Con. In an exclusive quote given to LA Weekly, Astin expresses his excitement to return to L.A.’s iconic convention.
“Hello Fans and Friends,
I’m excited to be returning to the iconic L.A. Comic Con. As I write this note, members of SAG-AFTRA, the labor union that represents your favorite performers, is on strike. As a member of the Negotiating Committee and on behalf of our 160,000 members, we want to thank each and everyone of you who have supported us in our effort.
We work under many contracts, and must determine if a company we wish to work for is a “struck” company. As of now, the union has worked hard to carve our rules for participating in regional fan conventions.
At this time, L.A. Comic Con, a permissible “non-struck company” has pledged its support for the union and its commitment to abiding by the guidelines.
I am therefore relieved and excited to return!
Thank you all,
Despite the setbacks posed by the strikes, L.A. Comic Con has the potential to be a monumental moment, where actors and fans can unite on good terms, creating an atmosphere of camaraderie and mutual support. For celebrities, conventions are an opportunity to engage with their devoted fan base, but they are also a means to sustain themselves during uncertain times. As the strikes impact the livelihoods of many, the convention circuit offers actors an avenue to connect with fans and earn money through autograph sessions, photo ops, and exclusive merchandise sales.
L.A. Comic Con 2023 will symbolize a reunion of sorts, where the entertainment community can stand together in celebration of their shared passions. “We are all affected by this strike, and hope for a fair and speedy resolution,” DeMoulin continued. “But in the meantime, as an independent fan convention, we’re in a great position to respect the strike and its guidelines, and still bring L.A. fans the kind of eclectic, exciting and star-studded L.A. Comic Con they expect and deserve.”
DeMoulin and his fellow event organizers promise an array of new additions that will expand upon the convention’s usual offerings, including additional comic industry guests, more gaming features and activations, and an increased inclusion of Anime elements over the course of the three-day event. But beyond the action-packed attractions, convention provides a safe space and an inclusive environment that welcomes people from all walks of life to celebrate the diverse and ever-expanding world of pop culture— offering a chance for thought-provoking discussions at panel sessions that can highlight the specific causes our beloved actors and writers are fighting for.
The future of Cons will show to be of utmost importance in uniting fans with their favorite creators as the resilience of the entertainment industry shines above all else. At the end of the day, actors, performers, and writers do what they do for those who most appreciate their work— the ones who dive deep into the emotional layers, hidden meanings, and broader interpretations of the shared art. L.A. Comic will open its doors this year as a symbol of hope for a city navigating through challenging times. In the midst of strikes affecting the livelihoods of tens of thousands, the convention serves as a testament to the enduring power of fandom and the invaluable role conventions play in fostering connections between celebrities and fans.
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