Comikaze Expo 2011 Coverage
Independent convention invades Los Angeles...
To insure your action figure collection, get in touch with Collectibles Insurance. Say "Figures.com" to get 5% off your first term premiums.
To buy action figures, take a look at BigBadToyStore.com, RedfordFilms.com, BriansToys.com, ToyWiz.com, SmallJoes.com, MonkeyDepot.com, and Urban-Collector.com.
For Gears of War and other collectible video game statues and replicas, visit TriForce.
For statues and sculptures, go to CSMooreStudio.com.
Each year, there are a lot of conventions related to toys, science-fiction, comics, and more in Southern California, and I go to most of them. Whether it’s Anime Expo (see our coverage HERE) or San Diego Comic-Con (HERE), BotCon (HERE) or Anaheim Comic Con (HERE), chances are I’m there checking out what’s new and taking photos for Figures.com. So when I heard that there was a new convention coming to town I signed up immediately. The Comikaze Expo promised something a little different. Did it deliver? Let’s take a look.
Touted as an independent event by and for comic book, gaming, and sci-fi fans, Comikaze was put together by Regina and Mario Carpinelli and their team of friends and family. Their goal was to create a convention that catered to the general Los Angeles fan community more than just “industry” people, bringing geek culture together for everyone to enjoy. Not least of all, Comikaze also includes charity, and a percentage of all proceeds from the event went to various Los Angeles-based groups like the Amazon Foundation and Gamers United.
Though it may try to set itself apart, Comikaze is not the only “geek” convention in Los Angeles, or even the only one that takes place at the Los Angeles Convention Center each year. As such, it was hard not to compare this new event to all the other ones that happen in the same location. The first thing I noticed upon driving up to the massive edifice of the center was that there was no big sign. Not a big deal by any means, but it’s always cool when a convention plasters a big banner outside to attract attention. Unfortunately, inside the main lobby wasn’t much more impressive. A long line seemed to lead to nowhere, and the people running the show were few and far between. That being said, once we went downstairs to the crowded sign in area it was a simple matter to pick up press passes and pre-sold tickets.
Entering the main exhibit hall was a breath of fresh air, metaphorically speaking. Unlike the chaos outside, the actual floor was everything you could expect from a small convention. Broken down to the basics, Comikaze had the same types of things as every “Comic Con:” plenty of cool stuff to buy, local small businesses, actors and other creative types selling autographs, artists, fan groups, etc. The layout of the convention floor was a bit odd. It took place in a fairly large room, a floor below the big hall where larger conventions usually take place. The first thing inside the entrance was the tattoo area, where visitors could get inked by local artists or even get the Comikaze logo put on for free (along with a lifetime membership to the convention)! Beyond the tattoo artists, the sellers and other companies were laid out in a ring around the centrally located artist alley/celebrity signing area with the gaming centers behind all of that. Finally, surrounding the perimeter of the room were seven curtained off “rooms” for panels and media, not the usual set up but most likely a way for the convention to save money on rooms and space.
Walking around the exhibit hall we encountered lots of familiar faces and booths from other local conventions as well as some new ones. Copic Marker, the Japanese art supply company that always exhibits at Anime Expo was there, as was Archaia Comics, Vamplets, I (Heart) Nerd Girls, Girls and Corpses Magazine, Happy Hoodie Friends, and others that we see on the circuit. Then there were others like Cracked.com, Troma Entertainment, Almost Human Special Makeup FX, Little Vampires, Zombie Research Society, Games for All, Fat Rabbit Farm, The Adventures of the 19XX, Fez-o-Rama, Geek Chic Daily, and more.
A few really interesting booths and people included Bill Hunt of RubberMonsters.com with his amazing silicone figures like “Basket Brother” (an homage to Belial from the Basket Case films, it was even endorsed by director Frank Henenlotter!), Tablewar selling custom display/travel cases for miniatures and game figures, and Steam Crow with its silly art on postcards, posters, and more. Several booths catered specifically to cosplay and steampunk, while fan groups like California Browncoats and Dumbledore’s Army were there to recruit new members.
Plenty of artists, actors, and other celebrities (in various circles) were there to meet fans, sign autographs, and sell unique items. On hand were Angus Oblong, artists and writers from DC’s New 52, Elvira, Stan Lee, the Cast of All That, Tippi Hedren, Ernest Borgnine, Star Trek actors (Marina Sirtis, Robert Beltran, Jennifer Lien, Gary Graham, Tim Russ, Robert Picardo, Garrett Wang), Carmen Argenziaro, Erin Gray, Morgan Fairchild, Richard Roundtree, Ernie Hudson, Alaina Huffman, Mark Hamill, Richard Hatch, and many more.
A big push at Comikaze was gaming, and the back part of the exhibit hall was set up for that purpose. Tournaments were held for games like Warhammer 40K, HeroClix, Magic the Gathering, and Yu-Gi-Oh, with additional video game including Super Mario Bros. and Mario Kart. Vendors catered to gamers as well, and the convention offered free admission with the purchase of tournament entry fees, a move that was very popular with gamers.
Other than all the fun to be had on the mail exhibit hall floor and the gaming areas, Comikaze also offered a full schedule of panels with something for everyone. Movie trailers and presentations, geek culture, fan groups, cosplay and steampunk, comics (including a major panel with DC talent), zombies, monsters, Japanese pop culture, and many more drew in the crowds and got people talking.
All in all, Comikaze was a good first effort at a local convention. I’m sure that the organizers learned a lot in this first year and will make the next even better. Hopefully they’ll nail down some line and procedure issues and get even more guests and companies to exhibit. See you next year!
Story and Photos by Scott Rubin
Re: Comikaze Expo 2011 Coverage
Wow this convention really just flew under the radar didn't it? Had I known about it I probably would have made the trip down to go. Bummer.