This past weekend Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo took over the Los Angeles Convention Center and became the epicenter for all things geek. The pop culture convention attracted fans of sci-fi, comic books, television, movies and horror during its fourth annual even. Fans were greeted by celebrity panels, writers and artists signings, and vendors pushing their wares of all kinds. Comikaze Expo has become the fan favorite pop culture event of the year.
While bigger cons may depend on movie studios and large corporate comic book publishers to draw crowds, Comikaze takes a different approach that caters to what fans want. The main stage for instance is dead center just steps away from artists alley.
It’s open to everyone on the floor to see interviews with the cast of True Blood, the voice actors of My Little Pony or comedian Howie Mandel. No special tickets, no roped off lines, just a general admission opportunity to see these special guests at their leisure amid the throngs of other con goers.
Sure, there aren’t major studios previewing their films or parading actors on stage but Comikaze does have dedicated, talented and thoughtful individuals like actress Gwendoline Christie from HBO’s Game of Thrones who during her panel with co-stars Alfie Allen and Esme Bianco stood up for the representation of women on her hit show.
“I am very aware that gender inequality is still very alive in our world. However, the female characters in ‘Game of Thrones’ are some of the strongest female characters we have seen in recent times on television. I applaud that. I’m very passionate about the way women are portrayed, and I am very proud of the work that is continuing to be done by this television show in mainstream media. It may be small steps but I am very grateful they are being taken.”
Besides the cool retro video game arcade on one side of the hall to the booths of pop culture celebrities awaiting to sign autographs on the other at the center of the expo, and really at the heart of any good con, are the comic book writers, artists and vendors that helped shaped the imaginations of most convention attendees.
After all the con is called ‘Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo’ and the legendary creator of Spider-Man and the X-Men was on hand to receive a full-size Hulk cake from the Ace of Cakes himself Duff Goldman. Stan also joined veteran comic book creatives Rob Liefeld, John Romita Jr., and Marc Silvestri on stage during their panel to make sure they were being treated okay.
Romita was especially popular with fans as the line at his signing was consistently long throughout the afternoon. Famous for his artwork on Daredevil and Spider-Man he is currently doing Superman for DC Comics.
Liefeld posted his enjoyment of the Expo on social media as he was surrounded by cosplayers dressed as one of his most popular creations - Deadpool.
As the Expo has grown so has the number of cosplayers who show up in some of the most elaborate costumes found anywhere. These passionate people of all ages come as their favorite comic book, anime, cartoon, movie, video game characters. The convention floor was full of them and added some fun color and spectacle to the weekend.
In year four of Comikaze the young con is getting better and better. Lee along with co-owner Cassandra Peterson (aka Elvira) and COO Regina Carpinelli are learning what works and what doesn’t. It’s clear though that they are committed to bringing an event that fans will love. If the crowds this weekend were any indication they must be on the right track.