Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo 2012: Is It L.A.'s Comic-Con? Not Yet, But...
For a year now, the buzz has been that Comikaze will be the L.A. equivalent to San Diego Comic-Con, but it's not there yet. There were none of the oversized, swag-filled studio booths that you would see in San Diego. There was, however, some interesting TV and film programming. The stars of the original Batman series -- Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar -- were on hand. There were reunions for the popular '90s children's shows Salute Your Shorts and Wild & Crazy Kids. Elvira and Peaches Christ brought their film competition Elvira's Horror Hunt to the convention. Their event at the Vista Theatre last week served as a kick-off to Comikaze.
Animation studio Titmouse, who appeared at the first Comikaze event, increased their presence at the convention this year. In addition to a general Titmouse panel, there was a scheduled panel for Grimm Fairy Tales, a Kickstarter-funded project based on the comic book series of the same name to be directed by Jon Schnepp (Metalocalypse) and animated by Titmouse. They also hosted a screening session, which was packed, that included full episodes of Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja (which premieres tonight on Disney XD) and Motorcity, the Disney XD show created by Titmouse head Chris Prynoski. In addition, Schnepp joined Aqua Teen stars Dana Snyder (Master Shake) and C. Martin Croker (Dr. Weird) for a panel devoted to Aqua Teen, Space Ghost Coast to Coast and Titmouse's Metalocalypse.
What Comikaze has in its favor is that they immediately marketed the event as a pop culture convention. They've given themselves the freedom to experiment with different types of programming without alienating people, something that has been an issue for conventions that began their life in a smaller niche. But they haven't had that long gestation period that so many cons have had before they got big. When I covered the inaugural event last year, I noted that the biggest problem was the amount of space available for the convention. This year, the issue was with the pre-sale line. Both of those instances could be linked to simply being unprepared for the volume of people who want to attend the convention. It's something that Comikaze's team will need to resolve to reach the next level.
Beyond that, they could benefit from expanding into the Convention Center's West Hall, which has larger auditoriums better suited for the main events than a stage in the exhibit hall. Even though they had a solid schedule of panels and screenings this year, they are going to need room to grow for next year. Comikaze is the event that L.A. needs, a pop culture extravaganza worthy of the city where so much of the media we consumed is made. Even Stan Lee said as much when I interviewed him about the event last April. Right now, we're all watching it grow and, despite the trials and errors, that's fascinating.
*Elvira and Peaches Christ Celebrate Independent Horror Movies
*Stan Lee Has His Own Convention Now: Stan Lee's Comikaze
*Comikaze Expo 2011: First-Time Convention Brings Big Names, Big Crowd