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Convention Round-Up: First Annual Comikaze Expo
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Comikaze Expo

As a Southern California native I have been spoiled with comic and multimedia conventions. I have San Diego Comic Con to the south and Long Beach Comic Con to the north; the only thing I was missing was a convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Recently, my prayers to various Norse gods were answered in the form of Comikaze held at the Los Angeles Convention Center on November 5 and 6.

When I envision a comic, horror, anime, and gaming convention in its first year, I instantly picture 7 to 10 guys in a very poorly lit motel conference room. Comikaze definitely had its up’s and down’s in terms of pure geek culture you couldn’t ask for something greater, but as someone who is at comic conventions year-round, there was some things left to be desired. I saw a lot of things I liked and a few things I was not so crazy about, so close your eyes (then open them) and let me take you on a journey of L.A’s Comikaze.

Stuff I Liked:

The Vendors

Going to a comic convention and finding reasonably priced merchandise is a brutal struggle. On one side of this coin is the greatest and most wonderful comic, game, and movie merchandise available; however, it is priced in a manner in which only the wealthiest kings of Europe could ever afford it. On the other side are retailer’s sales, huzzah!!! So if you want an opened and heavily used April O’Neil torso you are in in luck, it’s 2 for $20. However, at Comikaze I did not see a ton of this, vendors stayed at a reasonable price and offered thousands of toys and comics spanning all geek genres.

Cosplay

Now let me be the first to say that it took me a long time to understand cosplay. But once I began to understand that it’s such a pure form of expression I could not help but fall in love with this awesome culture. Comikaze cosplay was in full swing both Saturday and Sunday and the cosplayers were showing their colors. Superman, Batman, Wolverine and Blackcat (I think they were a couple?), Cobra Commander, Henchmen 24 and 21, Predator, Rogue, someone with an orange wig I assumed was from anime, your garden variety of steam punk outfits, and finally a ton of girls dressed like cats or something. As you can see I could not identify many, but the work and commitment that these cosplayers put into their costumes was astounding.

The Celebrities

When I go to San Diego Comic Con I am not going to shake Chris Evans hand, I know this, I have come to terms with this. Stan Lee is not going to pat me on the back and tell me he appreciates my patronage, I get that. But at Comikaze it was a different story, since the setting was so intimate I was able meet a ton of my personal idols face to face, Jackson Publick of The Venture Brothers, Jace Hall, Shane and Chris Houghton of the Reed Gunther series, and a host of indie comic creators and artists. Stan Lee didn’t pat me on the back, but I still got to see him briefly as he was being swarmed by thousands of screaming comic fans.

The Panels

There was a huge variety of different panels to attend at Comikaze and they were all very much aimed at geek culture, from the panel on comic journalism to the Cracked live reading panel there was something to satisfy even the most discriminating of geeks.

Stuff I was not so crazy about:

The Venue

The entire convention was held at the lowest level of the convention center in a weird parking garage-style area that gave it a horrifying bomb shelter feeling. It was all in one giant room, which I did not care for at all, the lack of space and privacy made it seem like every panelist had to yell over then general din of the Comikaze crowd. When you spend the entire day looking at wall-to-wall grey while failing to get Elvira’s autograph, you begin to envy the dead.

Organization

It’s so hard to judge a convention on its lack of organization; however, San Diego Comic Con has thousands upon thousands of people show up every year and managed in my opinion to run a smoother show than Comikaze. I usually stay clear of talking to any event staff in fear of making their life’s more difficult. However, when two lines become one then they split into two again then a guy cuts in front of me, the gloves come off. Overall, the staff seemed pretty unresponsive to questions or concerns, which is such a pivotal portion of having a great Con.

The Lack of Cool Announcements

I can understand why DC isn’t going to want to roll through and talk The Dark Night Rises in the basement of the Los Angeles Convention Center, but at least give us something to gnaw on. I guess I am just spoiled when it comes sizzle reels and teaser trailers at conventions. There was virtually no “new” events to cover everything was mainly focused around nostalgia and preexisting geek culture.

All in all, if I had some kind of established rating system I would give Comikaze an average to good rating, or according to my fictional rating system 5 out of 10 raptor teeth. It was a good convention for its first year and hopefully once it gets all its kinks worked out, it will continue to grow to be L.A’s premiere geek culture convention.

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