Stan Lee’s Comikaze thrills Los Angeles true believers

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LALIG TARBINIAN

(Left to Right) Tara Buck, who played Ginger, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Pam De Beaufort, and Stephen Moyer, Vampire Bill from “True Blood,” talk about Straten’s emotional personality on Saturday, Nov. 1 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The premiere convention for all things sci-fi, comic book, and geek related in Los Angeles took the Convention Center by storm from Halloween until Nov. 2. There were events all weekend ranging from panel discussions with stars from Game of Thrones, True Blood, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and everything in-between. Several films were screened as well, including some cult favorites and even a world premiere. No matter what the interest in geekdom, there was someone or something there to satisfy every need.

On the main floor of the show were retailers of all kinds. The majority of the convention was dedicated to ways to spend hard earned cash on items ranging from comic books, anime, apparel, collectibles, and even some cultish oddities to satisfy the more peculiar interests. Naturally, there were dozens of artists on hand. From professionals to amateurs, well established names and up and comers, each artist was making past works and quick live sketches available. Many unique styles and interpretations of well known characters were on display along with originals.

On the outer sections of the show floor were spaces dedicated to all manner of unique showcase. The Hollywood Sci-Fi Museum brought along a fully modified DeLorean used in the filming of the Back to the Future films. For a small donation, con goers could sit inside and have friends take picture. Not far away was a full arcade with standing machines and video game consoles alike. There were even several display cases filled with video game “achievements” of yester-year: patches, stickers, and pins used to be sent from game companies when players sent picture proof of their beating a high score or finishing a game. Unique vintage pieces like these aren’t seen often anymore.

On the opposite end of the show floor was a huge space dedicated to Elvira, the mistress of the macabre. She has been a staple of Comikaze since its inception, and this year was her biggest yet. Her large area had a live DJ, unique art and collectibles by artists she endorses, horror films running on a TV for the duration and a queue area for when she came by to do signings and small panels right there in her area. Across the way was an area dedicated to Stan Lee, the man who’s name has helped make the convention as large as it is. This section was more of a museum with action figures and short write-ups of the characters he helped to create and write for. He would occasionally make his way to spots around the show to do signings and take pictures. These were noisy, crowded, and highly energetic displays of love and affection for a man all geeks owe respect to.

The most exciting events, however, were by far the panels. Being able to see actors, directors, writers, producers, and creators of one’s favorite shows only feet away on stage is one of the most thrilling things for big fans of mass media. For instance, the Game of Thrones panel was lucky enough to have Gwendoline Christie and Alfie Allen actually fly in to L.A. just for the convention. Both were high spirited, though Christie was the more vocal.

That said, one man brought more people to his panels that had to be turned away than any other. John Barrowman of Arrow, Torchwood, and Doctor Who fame was an exuberant presence wherever he spoke. Joined in his first panel by his sister, Barrowman played off of his relationship with his sister for laughs. The next day at his solo panel, audience participation played into many amusing stories. Most notably, he recalled a time during the filming of Shark Attack 3: Megalodon (which he claimed was noted as one of the top 10 B-movies of all time) where he was acting out a sex scene with his female co-star. Being homosexual, Barrowman was having difficulty getting into the scene. His co-star wasn’t helping much, since she wasn’t bringing much to the table herself. His solution was pretty blue in terms of content, but suffice it to say the audience howled in delight at his recollection.

Speaking of audience participation, the screaming of The Room was truly unbelievable. Widely considered one of the worst films of all time, The Room is a self-indulgent shlock-fest of epic proportions. The films’ writer/producer/director/lead actor Tommy Wiseau was on hand for a short Q&A session before the film screened to much acclaim. However, what made the screening of this terrible film worth while was by far the audience. Taking cues from screenings of Rocky Horror Picture Show, people were screaming at the screen to call out shots of water (numbered in the dozens), any time Wiseau’s character greeted someone with “Oh, hi!” (also dozens), and many other worthy contributions. Without a group of people so interested in making the film as fun to watch as possible, undertaking the effort to see the film through would be impossible. I’m glad they were all so enthusiastic.

With thousands of attendees, hundreds of cosplayers, dozens of notable celebrities, and more outlets for niche interests than any other convention I’ve been to, Stan Lee’s Comikaze is an event not to miss. When it comes around again, be sure to schedule time to make a visit. As far as I’m concerned, it is the premiere event for all things pop culture in the Los Angeles area. Come dressed in your comic best and let your geek flag fly.

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