Comic Books

Comikaze Expo 2015: Stories from the Belly of the Sweaty and Un-showered Beast

Comikaze Expo 2015 (Welcome Banner)

And so passes another year of Stan’s Comikaze extravaganza; another year of a wonderfully comic-centric convention, celebrating the medium as opposed to the Hollywood movie-machine. I figured a week or two was ample time to find my bearings, let the voices inside commune and collaborate, and rev up the ole rant-machine; cause I got a mouthful to whine about, oooh boy, yes I do! So, without further delay, let’s commence with a quick prologue. Even though there were a few publishers missing this year who’ve held a presence on the exhibit floor during past conventions, it was a welcomed sight to see a fairly robust Artist Alley. Of course, like all comic-themed soirées, there were positives, as well as negatives. Just wanted to preface my forthcoming rant with this small disclaimer lest you think me solely a whiny fanboy with little else to say than “Waaaa!” – that’s reserved for my “en vivo” exchanges. Shall we highlight the positives first?

The Good

The Exhibitors

Like I mentioned, Comikaze, since its inception, has always been about the medium. It’s the reason I continue to attend. I love perusing the aisles of publishers and dealers alike, selling comics, toys, and geeky-themed attire. It’s a nice reprieve from all of the Hollywood-whoring that transpires in San Diego year-in and year-out. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a good rough and tumble in the sack with a dirty little minx every now and then, but not each time I walk into a con with the word “comic” in the name. As a matter of fact, it’s gotten so bad over the years, Comic-Con now feels more like a trade show than a comic convention. They’ve even enlisted the assistance of half-naked ladies to hand out their swag to unsuspecting geeks. I say “unsuspecting” because we’re all suckers for an attractive woman and a cute smile, especially one adorned in naught but a two-piece bikini and heels. We’d even willfully sign away our kidneys were they to hand us a consent form to do so. Thankfully the smaller conventions have maintained their focus for the sake of all that is good and sacred in this world.

The Vibe

Another aspect of Comikaze which adds to the experience is the ambience that it breeds. Unlike Comic-Con – with its highly incompetent hired “security” herding attendees like cattle to the slaughter, Comikaze feels like the comic conventions of old that I eagerly attended as a chubby, prepubescent young gent. Of course, this is partly due to the notoriety that San Diego carries. But a convention is meant to foster a relaxed environment; a place where fans of all interests can congregate and, quite simply, just “nerd out”. Cons like Comikaze, WonderCon, and Long Beach Comic-Con have supplied the perfect setting for such an experience. And with San Diego having turned into the beast that it is, this has only caused the attendee roster of all three to grow in numbers since their respective inceptions.

A Different Perspective – Comic Book Culture: Then and Now

I attended only two panels this year: one on the do’s and don’ts of writing and getting published, and one on the fanboy/girl perspectives of geeks younger than I from CSU Fullerton. The latter was a random choice of mine to attend and was actually quite fun and provided an interesting insight into how other, 20-something members of our culture view past and current aspects of the comic book industry. They touched upon everything from the current state of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, to their favorite movies, to how the DC/WB movie-model stacks up against Marvel’s successes. It’s refreshing as well as comforting to know that, despite our often diametrically opposed views, we can all agree on one thing: Joel Schumacher is the worst thing to happen to Batman since his parents were murdered in front of him as a child.

The Bad

The Imposters and Shysters

Comic book culture, being as popular as it is nowadays, has become a breeding ground for all manner of opportunists; shysters looking to hawk their wares and find that creative edge which allows them to do so within an environment such as a comic book convention. If you’ve ever attended Comic-Con you’ve more than likely run into one of these parasites. This year I saw a few, but of those, one stood out above its kin: Wiseau Films. The name didn’t ring a bell for me at first, so I Googled the good Tommy Wiseau’s production company and the two things they were promoting: The Room and The Neighbors. I watched trailers for both and, I gotta say, it’s some of the worst garbage I’ve ever seen. I’ve viewed fan-films with a higher quality and production value. Although, my first indication that their presence was dubious should have been the two scantily clad models giving away footballs to an enthusiastic and cheering crowd. But hey, the Shrine Auditorium’s cons used to always have (and still do) a few smut-dealers so, if it’s nostalgia I was searching for, Stan the Man provided like a champ.

The Layout

I was not a fan of the organizer’s choice of floor design this year. It lacked the breathable environment I’ve become accustomed to from past cons. Instead of arranging the exhibitors all within the South Hall of the Convention Center, they kept the autograph area and moved the rest over to the West Hall – bad idea. This created a claustrophobic-feel not unlike San Diego. Trying to navigate the floor was tiring and annoying. It lacked the geeky feng shui of past years, and it is my hope they return to their set up as it existed before this terrible and disappointing mishap of epic proportions.

Well, that does it for 2015, kids; another year of Comikaze in the bag. If you haven’t taken the opportunity to visit good ole Stan’s yearly celebration, make sure to put it on your calendar for 2016. It has everything you’d need to satiate the inner, introverted geek just clawing at your innards to get out and, well, remain introverted; but, it’ll be within its element while doing so – YAY!

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