Friday, November 11, 2011

First Annual Comikaze Expo Wrapup

Los Angeles has been looking forward to hosting a comic and pop culture convention for a long time now. There have been many, but they have never been as large and successful as the First Annual Comikaze Expo was last weekend. We are a fairly new site that launched in March and we immediately began speaking to the Comikaze Expo staff and we became very interested in the event. I was born and raised in LA, but now reside in Arizona. Thank goodness for family that I visit quite often in LA. We actually made it a great family affair to attend the Comikaze Expo. 

The Angry Koala Gear crew consists of family and friends, which is another great reason why I became so interested in attending the Comikaze Expo. The event was actually created by family and friends, which makes it incredible. They have been heavy at work promoting the Comikaze everywhere from the San Diego Comic Con, Frank and Sons, Long Beach Comic Con, and all over the net. This is the reason why there was a great success in the first run of an incredible convention. 

We were able to get full access into the event and we are very grateful for this to be able to see the exhibitors getting ready for the show to begin and to see the loyal fans lining up early. We probably had the same feelings as those that were the first in the line to enter, filled with curiousity if this convention will be a winner or loser. Well, we were in the hall about 15 minutes early and I was in shock as soon as I entered because the show was massive. I actually attended the Star Wars Celebration IV when it was in the same exact hall and I can say this was much larger. I have attended quite a few shows and this one was big, especially for a first year! There was something new to this that I had never seen at a show before, where they actually had all the exhibitors, artists, guests and even panels all in the same hall. I thought it was a unique idea to actually have the panels together with the hall.

Getting in a little early helped us to find who we would want to interview and what booths we would want to do separate coverage on, but the 15 minutes went rather quickly because we were so excited. We ran into Shane and Chris Houghton the creators of the funny Image Comics, Reed Gunther series. The only comic series with a bear riding cowboy and the series where I actually won an original page from the Reed Gunther #1 when it first launched. The Houghton brothers had a great panel at the Comikaze Expo that we did a post on, titled, Improv Comics.

We were able to touch base with Bill Murphy, head scientist of SyFy's Fact or Faked

and Ed Gale, the actor who played Chucky (Child's Play) and Howard the Duck to set up interviews.
As soon as we set that up, the crowds emerged everywhere!

The Cosplayers were everywhere and this is one of our favorite parts of attending a comic convention. The creativity people put into these costumes always amazes me and you always find something different and unique. The Steampunk scene was amazing with many great costumes
 and there were actually quite a few panels dedicated to the Steampunk genre. Unfortunately, we could not manage to see all the costumes that come through the doors, but thank goodness for other sites.

We love comics and art, so we knew that some of our favorites would be in attendance. I spoke of Steampunk earlier and one of my favorite comics right now is Aspen Comics Lady Mechanika and we had a chance to chat with Joe Benitez, the creator of an amazing series. Do not worry fans, he said that Lady Mechanika #3 is almost ready and should be in stores the end of this month. Another great series we have enjoyed is Ape Comics Freakshow and we also had a chance to talk to the creators and writers of the series, David Server and Jackson Lanzing.

These two were great guys and we had a good chat about the convention circuit! Freakshow is going to become a movie, but is on hold because for good reason the script is being written by the same person who is working on Jurassic Park 4. (Good excuse, I suppose, right?) Speaking of Jurassic Park, did you see probably the most creative cosplay of Comikaze Expo? Truly classic! Many more comics writers and artists were in attendance, which included Philip Tan, Cat Staggs, Brian Buccellato, J.T. Krul, Joshua Hale Fialkov and more!

There were also great exhibitors which included Steam Crow, the Pumpkin Geek, Little House Designs, Zombie Research Society, the Chiodo Brothers (creators of Killer Klowns from Outer Space) and many more. We wanted an interview with the Chiodo Brothers, but they were quite busy throughout the show. There were so many great booths and we probably missed quite a few because of the size and time permitting.

There were so many actors/actresses in attendance at the Comikaze Expo, which included the guest of honor, Stan Lee and her final convention appearance, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. I wonder though if this is such a good idea for her because of the crowds that surrounded her. Maybe it was not going to be Elvira's last appearance, but maybe it was to be Cassandra Peterson's last appearance instead. Morgan Fairchild, Judd Nelson, Ernest Borgnine, Tony Todd, Mark Hamill, and so many more greats! Star Trek fans had it made with many actors in attendance at the event, which included Chase Masterson, Richard Herd, Marina Sirtis, Robert Picardo, and more. It was awesome to see so many familiar faces from the past and present!

What is a con without panels? Well, Comikaze Expo definitely had panels! Steampunk was definitely in house with quite a few panels for those unfamiliar with the genre, which there was even a
 Steampunk 101 panel for newbies. There was a unique panel that I loved, Improv Comics with Shane and Chris Houghton.

This panel was fun because it required audience participation to help create a comic together. The comic was about a time traveling cat, Bodunkles who time travels in the kitty litter and a dog, Pug T. Fist who of course is his nemesis. Great fun! One panel that we knew would have to attend was the Nickelodeon's All That cast reunion panel. Many of our popular cast members were in attendance and this was a very popular panel. The audience filled all the chairs and people surrounded the sides and back completely. People would be coming and going to allow others to join in on the fun. There was to be a CBS films Woman in Black panel, which we would see the newest trailer for the film coming out next February, but there were some technical difficulties. Regina Carpinelli (co-founder of Comikaze Expo) joined us to apologize and treated us like royality and even gave us some great bonuses. "You rock Regina!" She was everywhere at this event making sure everything was going smoothly.  Cassandra Peterson who is best known for her iconic character, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, was given an achievement award. Comikaze Expo was to be her last con appearance, but as popular as she was, we hope not. Another amazing panel, was the Sushi Girl panel about the new film coming next year, which included Tony Todd (Candyman), Noah Hathaway (The NeverEnding Story),  Danny Trejo (Machete), and yes, Mark Hamill (Star Wars, Joker)! There were panels for Dr. Who fans, many Zombie panels, an Awkard Embraces panel for the hit web series, which included the cast, a DC Comics New 52 Q&A, and so many more!

There were a few flaws at the Comikaze Expo, but you will have them for a first and the staff have said they will be corrected. The Comikaze Expo staff, including Regina Carpinelli mentioned that they want to hear feedback. I am confident next year will be even better! One thing I liked and disliked were the setup of the panels. Yes, they were great to be all under one roof with the hall, but there were times it was hard to hear the panels with all the commotion outside them and with announcements on the intercom did not help. But at the same time, they were fun because it allowed the audience to come in and feed their curiousity of what was going on. Room 306AB held the larger panels and was a bit hard to find at first because it was the only separate room from the hall. Our only other concern was that a few of the guests and booths were moved Sunday, so we had to do some searching for them, but did find them. 

The first Comikaze Expo was amazing and so much more! We had a blast and it will definitely become our must each year. Would I say it was successful? Probably a lot for me to be able to answer, but it was definitely. Great guests, artists, creators, actors/actresses, panels, cosplayers, and geeks everywhere! In fact, we are hearing that there were over 40,000 in attendance in just 2 days. I would have to say this is proof that it was successful. There were a few flaws, but you will have them for a first and the staff have said they will be corrected. We already know that the Los Angeles Convention Center was pleased, so we know Comikaze Expo will remain at this very large venue. This is good because we have also learned from Fabiano (from Comikaze) in our interview that it will be doubling in size next year. Unless you came to witness it for yourself, the Second Annual Comikaze Expo will be massive! I am so ready for next year and we already miss it, which it has only been a week. We are looking forward to seeing what Comikaze Expo has lined up for next year and just stay tuned with AKG as we get the updates!

Thank you Comikaze Expo! We will be seeing you next year!

No comments:

Post a Comment