By Jason Strangis
If San Diego can hold the biggest comic-con in the universe, then why can’t Los Angeles have its own large-scale pop culture event?
Now it finally does. Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo 2014, held October 31 – November 2 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, combined comic books, science fiction, fantasy, horror, animation, gaming, etc.
“Where Pop Culture Rules the Earth,” was the official motto of Comikaze. For three full days and nights, costumed superheroes and villains were seen everywhere around the large convention center in downtown L.A. At least 50,000 fans attended the big show, and while that’s only about a third the number of those that flock to San Diego each summer for Comic-Con, Stan Lee’s Comikaze is clearly gaining fans and interest each year.
This year’s Comikaze seemed to be the biggest ever. Saturday’s show was by far the most popular day for local fans to storm to the convention center. Everywhere you looked there was Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Deadpool, Spider-Man, and zombies galore. It was quite a spectacle and a Halloween treat for fans lucky enough to attend Comikaze.
But the real star of the show, of course, is Stan Lee. In putting together the Comikaze pop culture event, Stan “The Man” — one of the true living legends and still the biggest name in the comic book universe — has teamed with Cassandra Peterson (Elvira, Mistress of the Dark), and CEO and founder Regina Carpinelli.
In just four years time this terrific trio has already created one of the biggest events of its kind. The venue is perfect — the gigantic Los Angeles Convention Center has more than enough room for the hundreds of exhibitors, artists and comic book creators. Media guests, so popular these days at any big comic con, showed up at Comikaze as well.
A Caped Crusader TV reunion featured Adam West (Batman), Burt Ward (Robin), and Julie Newmar (Catwoman). Kevin Conroy, the longtime voice of Batman from the highly-acclaimed 1990s animated series, drew large crowds to the autograph table.
Fan-favorite artists John Romita Jr., Rob Liefeld, and J. Scott Campbell were also in L.A. to sign for fans.
Game of Thrones stars made a special showing at Comikaze. And there was even an appearance from the Comic Book Men of AMC’s popular TV show.
But the highlight of the weekend for many fans was the appearance of Marvel Comics icon Stan Lee, who was greeted to a thunderous ovation as he entered the main stage area. Lee, who is 91 but is as young at heart as ever, constantly had the huge crowd roaring with laughter and showed that he is still the ultimate comics spokesman.
It’s been said before but, even at 91, Stan Lee is still the coolest guy in comics.
And suddenly Stan Lee’s Comikaze is one of the coolest, hippest pop culture showcases in the country. Besides all the fun stuff to do and the incredible artwork to marvel at in the main showroom, there were more than 100 fantastic panels held in upstairs meeting rooms. Movie and television writers and comic book professionals from on hand to give tips to fans.
So much to do, so little time. These enormous comic conventions have a way of giving a person sensory overload. Fans can easily get worn down walking through all the isles and checking out the endless array of awesome stuff. Whatever interested the fans (comic book artwork, superhero statues, toys, DVDs, anime) was all there to behold and buy.
While Comikaze is still not nearly as big as the San Diego Comic-Con, it already could be considered one of the top 10 convention sites. As one of the fastest-growing cons in the country, Comikaze seems to now compare favorably in size to the Midwest’s mega-con — Wizard World Chicago — although the Windy City show might be slightly larger and has been around longer.
New York might also have larger comic book shows, but what do you expect? It’s the Big Apple.
But Comikaze is bigger and better than Florida’s best show, Megacon, which has become mostly anime-dominated and is held every spring in Orlando.
Comikaze, meanwhile, takes place in Hollywood in the autumn — a good time to hold it because it doesn’t have to compete against the big cons of the summer.
So the future indeed looks bright for Stan Lee’s premiere Hollywood hoopla extravaganza. As the living legend himself would say, “Excelsior!”
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