Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo is a great show for pop culture addicts; movies, TV, web-series, cosplay, toys, and content aimed at wannabe creators ruled this past weekend at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Oh, and there were some comic books there too.
As has been the case in past years, the panel content was very skewed to general pop culture topics with very little specifically related to print comic books, but that makes sense as it seems to be a match for the demographic that attends the show. Top comics sell in the tens of thousands. Movies and TV shows are seen by more than 10x that number. The general population enjoys things that are derived from comics far more than the source comic material itself.
The big day of the show was Saturday, October 31st. Halloween. The show opened at 9am and there were a LOT of people lined up waiting to be let in. Lots of people in costume, maybe a little more than average since it was Halloween.
The big draw right off the bat seemed to be convention exclusives. A huge line developed almost immediately at the Hot Topic and Stan Lee Collectibles booths, with people grabbing up exclusive Funko Pops. There were also Loot Crate and Marvel Collector’s Corps booths, both selling subscriptions to their “boxes-o-stuff”. The Marvel Collector’s Corps booth was even selling individual boxes that had shipped in past months. I picked up a Stan Lee pop from Hot Topic, which I thought was pretty cool, though I passed on the monochromatic “platinum” version at the Stan Lee booth that was going for $25. I only picked up a couple of other things: a sketch cover of Man-Thing by artist Lak Lim which I thought was a steal at $20 and the latest collection of the Collectors comic strip (I like this strip so much that I syndicate the strips on the ComicSpectrum site).
The main presence of comic books at Comikaze were on the show floor. There were a number of creators signing autographs either at books, in the autograph area, or in Artist’s Alley. There were also a decent number of vendors selling comics. As far as panels, the panels that were related to comics were more likely to be dedicated to creating them yourself or creator spotlights on the “Hot Topic Main Stage”, which I’m not a big fan of. Instead of being in a normal panel room, this stage is in the back of one of the halls and fans all crowd around it like cattle. Standing in a crowd while a creator talks with relatively poor acoustics isn’t my idea of a great time. That said, it was the main way to see Stan Lee, Grant Morisson, Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, and others if you didn’t want to stand in a long autograph line. But for fans who want to meet these mega-popular creators, this con afforded them the opportunity and for people who have never met an idol before, standing in an autograph line for a quick meet-and-greet to get a treasured collectible signed is something well worth the wait.
The artist’s alley was large and right in the middle of the show floor. A welcome change from cons like San Diego where they have the artists exiled off to a far corner of the convention.
I attended 4 panels on Saturday and thoroughly enjoyed 3 of them:
- Star Trek Continues: A fan-created series presenting the continuing adventures of the 60s crew of the Starship Enterprise. This was so well done it could have been shown on TV back in the 60s and except for the fact it has different actors, would fit right in with the originals. You can watch episodes on the web and I encourage any Trek fans to check it out.
- YouTube Spaces – A World of Superheroes: A variety of web series created by people were allowed to film on sets with professional quality super-hero lairs and other sets, as well as being able to reserve lighting and sound kits to use for filming. Not every one was a winner, but by and large they were very entertaining fan films
- Image Revolution: A showing of a documentary film about the founding of Image comics with archival footage and new interviews with the seven founders and others who were there to see it unfold. This was the gem of the convention for me, and will be available on DVD in January 2016.
- Batman Fan Series: The Great Mistake of Dr. Miles: Wow! So bad. Objectively bad. After seeing the previous fan films of the day I had a bar in my head of what I expected for acting, costumes, story. This had painfully wooden acting, really poor looking costumes (that looked like store-bought Halloween costumes). I walked out of this one after about 10 minutes, it was too much to bear.
Summing up: If you’re a pop culture fan in the Los Angeles area, Comikaze Expo is a great show. Lots of action on the show floor and a great artist’s alley. Lots of cosplay action and TV/animation/movie content galore. They could do much better on pure comic book content, but that’s not necessarily a big deal for many fans.
Bob Bretall: firstname.lastname@example.org
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