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A Newbie Goes to Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo

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By Thanai Phronphong Epic Level Intern

(This was Thanai’s very first convention.  As an intern at Epic Level he assists our marketing and editing departments.)

This weekend, I went to the LA Convention Center to attend Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo.  A partnership between Stan Lee, Elvira (Cassandra Peterson) and the folks who run Comikaze, this is Los Angeles’ new, premier con.  Comikaze covers comics, cartoonists or gaming, scifi, horror and pretty much all things related to pop culture and entertainment.

It was my mission to go there for one day, attend as many panels as much as I could, buy something (Oops! That wasn’t the mission but I did it anyway), and report back to you readers here.

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First thing I did was walking around the exhibition hall. It was a huge space full of booths that were selling everything from T-shirts, cartoon paintings, magnets and soundtrack vinyls to displays of vintage game consoles.  One booth that caught my eyes was the sunglasses by LA Sire Crown (http://www.sireseyewear.com), a boutique eyewear handcrafted in downtown Los Angeles out of vintage comic book prints from the 30’s-70’s. That’s pretty unique! Another vendor I liked was The Pumpkin Geek (www.thepumpkingeek.com). The owner specializes in carving the pumpkins and transform them to be a piece of art. Each pumpkin took between 4-6 hours to be perfectly made. The Wall-E builders (http://wallebuilders.com) and the R2 builders club (http://astromech.net )drew a lot of kids, families, and kids at heart who wanted to build their own robots.  There was also Stan Lee’s Mega Museum shwww.thepumpkingeek.com). The owner specializes in carving the pumpkins and transform them to be a piece of art. Each pumpkin took between 4-6 hours to be perfectly made. The Wall-E builders (http://wallebuilders.com) and the R2 builders club (http://astromech.net )drew a lot of kids, families, and kids at heart who wanted to build their own robots.  There was also Stan Lee’s Mega Museum showing a lot of stuff from Spiderman to Ironman and also the original Midtown Science High School certificate to Peter Parker that you don’t normally see anywhere.  Oh, and don’t forget the Ghostbuster car.  It was there surrounded by a team of Ghostbusters.

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After the exhibit hall excitement, I decided to hit a couple of panels.  The first one I joined was called ‘Learn How to Use a Lightsaber’ hosted by the Saber Guild.  The guild had lightsabers there for everyone to practice with.  It was a surreal experience being surrounded by a bunch of people swinging their weapons around like the old YouTube video of 13-year-old swinging a broom around in his garage.

The next panel I joined is ‘Web Series Creation 101-How do you build a Guild’?  Yeah. That’s what I’m curious about, too.  The panel was hosted by Katrina Hill (Action Movie Freak, ArcadeSushi) with other guest speakers such as Alex Langley (Geek Lust, Fan Voice) and Bill Ostroff (Jedi Camp, Thor).  The guests talked about the advantages of the web series comparing it to television. One thing was the freedom that all of us have to create our own voice and nobody can tell us what to do. At the same time, that freedom comes with a shoestring budget that creators need to know how to manage.

One thing the panel shared about making professional video products at home was the difficulty of knowing what the director wants exactly. You need to know how to self-direct yourself which is not an easy task at all.  It’s also important to make new friends and know your abilities and strengths. If you don’t know how to operate the camera, find someone else to do it. If you don’t know how to do the editing, ask a friend to help you. Don’t do it all by yourself unless you are willing to work 23 hours and a half per day and sleep only 30 minutes for the rest of your life!  Or at least until your show is over.

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After this panel, I joined ‘Who Wants To Be A Supervillain’?  (Um, who doesn’t?) where the guest speakers discussed what makes good supervillains.  Someone in the room said a great costume and I had to agree. Have you ever seen a supervillain in a bad costume? I haven’t.  They also talked about each supervillains’ mental illness issues and how each of them reflect something in our superheroes, such as the reflection of Joker’s character element in Batman.

A panel about the Doctor Who 50th anniversary was also a special gathering for superfans. Many audiences dressed like Doctor Who from various episodes and they were invited to join the panel to answers the questions in a very open forum style. Fans and panelists discussed the opinion about the bad things the Doctor’s done in each episode, what they expect to see in the 50th anniversary episode on this November 23rd and the biggest Doctor Who moment in their lives. There were a lot of laughs and tears in that room.

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My last panel of this wonderful day was a panel hosted by Jessica Tseang (Comicast!, Girl on Geek) and Scott Shaw (Hanna Barbera cartoonist, The Flintstones, Sonic the Hedgehog, etc) called ‘Oddball Comics – The Strange, Weird, Wacky Moments and Characters in Comics’ where Scott showed us a lot of rare cartoons and current comics that were out of print, including Nature Boy, Fruitman, Neutro, Great Society ‘Bobman & Teddy’, Circus Boy, Jeep Comics and Psychoanalysis, Superman’s Girl Friend – Lois Lane, and Cartoon Spice. 

Comikaze is a memorable first convention and one worth attending.  After all the panels, I found myself walking around the exhibit hall (again) and “unintentionally” bought Jack Skellington Wackly Wobbler and Robot Devil.  From now on I will wake up and see both of them staring at me every morning. Oooh… that’s scary!  

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Follow more con coverage or articles about scifi, fantasy and gaming at the Attack of the Blog on www.EpicLevelTV.com.


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