The line to get in line....
One of my few distractions I enjoy since I moved to the Left Coast, was being a regular at Comic-Con in San Diego. Much, much larger than the Wizard World cons back East, I was overwhelmed by the size and scope of this con. Movie stars, exclusive screenings, gaming, cosplay, DVDs, television shows, and oh, yeah - comics - were packed in the San Diego Convention center for its rabid 125,000 fans. The comics sections was there; in the quietest section of the convention floor.
Having been jaded by the immensity of the San Diego phenomenon, I was convinced that this was the best that the graphic novel industry had to offer. So when I received an invitation to attend ComiKaze, the so-called Comic-Con of Los Angeles, I had my reservations. First and foremost, I had not traveled that far in my 2005 Chevy Aveo, which I affectionately call my Clown Car. Though I do travel extensively, my wife does most of the driving, since she loves to drive, and her car, a 2001 Ford Escape, which I’ve dubbed Mandingo, is made for the heavy lifting. Second, I’ve only been to L.A. once before to attend another comic book convention (a Wizard World, I believe), and was unimpressed at both the convention and the city itself. Having lived all my life a short commute from New York City, the Big Apple’s gruff demeanor paled in comparison to La-La Land’s total perception of insanity. However, at the insistence of Matchflick’s Local Celebrity Diana Terranova, and the enticement of taking another shot at meeting Tony Todd for an interview, whom I call The Hardest Working Man in Horror, I mustered up my courage, climbed in my Clown Car, and started the two-hour trek North.
I learned a few new things since my last trip to Los Angeles: on their cars, they have a strange device called turn signals. Up until now, I was under the impression that only cars back East had this device installed, as no one in San Diego is aware of its existence. Second, they use this unique bartering medium called Cash. Trying to find a
parking spot that accepted debit cards was like searching for the lost Ark of the Covenant. All obstacles eventually overcome, I entered the convention center. It’s a cavernous structure, very large, very airy. I was wisely advised to get there early, to avoid the lines for tickets. I was a little surprised when my ticket experience took less than a minute, and was quite painless. Content with my victory, I ventured outside to see what I could see while waiting for the convention doors to open. When I came back to the convention center, the fun began. The line, previously non-existent, started outside the convention center,
So Close....So Close
- ran the complete length of the building,
- doubled back around to the center’s entrance, to the front,
- down the parking lot escalator,
- doubled back again,
- then finally filing into the convention hall itself.
Though smaller in size (total attendance was around 20,000), the line to get in rivaled the most popular panels at Comic-Con!
Once inside, the comparisons with its much larger cousin continued. The size difference was very evident. One could actually scope the entire floor and see the length and breath of the convention floor. Though comic books itself were not the primary feature of the con, comic book related vendors were in abundance (comic books and comic book accessories, if you must). The con floor looked more like a giant comic book store, with figurines, comic-related movies, anime - all comic book related items were there for sale. Between scoping out the con and interviewing Tony Todd, I kept busy myself insinuating myself into the Production Team for My Geek Universe, starring Matchflick Local Celebrity Diana Terranova. As the Assistant, I wrangled the peripheral equipment, and acted as security to keep the crowds back during filming.
A new feature that I was informed about ComiKaze this year was the introduction of discussion panels. Unfortunately, space was not mapped out for most of the panels elsewhere in the convention center, and many of the panels were conducted on the convention floor itself. This created a kind of carnival atmosphere, with loudspeakers overpowering the general din of the con.
highlights of ComiKaze were the farewell tour of Cassandra Peterson, better known as Elivra, Mistress of the Dark, long-standing host of the cheesiest movies on TV, and the original True Believer himself, The Man, Stan Lee. If there were Comic-Con-sized lines anywhere at ComiKaze, it was for these two celebrities. Stan Lee was autographing practically anything of Marvel worth: a hammer replica from the new THOR movie, an original Spider-man cover poster, and a full armor Iron man costume were some of the items that bore the Stan Lee imprimatur . And in this was the major difference between Comic-Con and ComiKaze. Whereas at Comic-Con, the invited celebrities are segregated on the far end of the pre-convention floor, all ComicKaze’s celebrities, including the two heavyweights, were right on the convention floor. This writer was a mere ten feet away from both celebrities, where at Comic-Con, I watched them only on video screens. But Elivra and Stan Lee were not the only celebrities present. Scattered throughout the floor were stars of Battlestar Galactica (the original), many sci-fi and Nickelodeon celebrities, actors who performed as various masked villains, such as Michael Myers (there were two of them present), Ernest Borgnine (that’s right - he’s still alive!), Robert Trebor, the actor who played Salmonius in the Hercules and Xena series, Scream Queens, Sybil Danning - aaaand Morgan Fairchild, yeah, that’s the ticket - Morgan Fairchild. No seriously, Morgan Fairchild was on the convention floor, signing autographs and posing with fans. There were many more, but this was not to be a complete directory of celebrities.
Approved by The Man himself
Hollywood was conspicuously missing from this con; only a few independent studios were in attendance, most
notably, the cast of the upcoming film noir, SUSHI GIRL, starring Noah Hathaway, Andy Mackenzie, Mark Hamil, and Tony Todd. They were all piled in a small fan booth, kibitzing with fans, taking interviews from Diana Terranova (at one point, Diana playfully choked Noah on camera - these stars were that approachable). I did finally land an interview with Tony, who despite the horrifying characters he plays on screen, is a gentle approachable, almost playful individual. That interview will be in a forthcoming column.
Michael Myers - Not So Scary Without Kirk, huh?
Cosplay was also not that great the day I was there, because the Cosplay Competition was the next day, so, only hardcore cosplayers were in costume Saturday. Still, the ones who were in costume were in serious gear. Also, there was a greater zombie presence, as several booths were devoted solely for zombies and zombie accessories. It was a fulfilling day, full of the surprises that one would expect at a real comic book convention, without the overwhelming Hollywood Presence.
The main impression that I took away from ComiKaze was that it was more down-to-earth. Everyone seemed approachable, genuinely wanting to please their fans, not being there just for a paycheck. The floor was crowded, but not to the point where you couldn't move around easily. It was a cosier, friendlier, less pressured version of the San Diego con, and in my opinion, what Comic-Con probably was when it was first organized. That, and the fact that tickets were cheaper and easier to get (tickets for the San Diego Comic-Con are sold out before the last day of the current con) makes the L.A. ComiKaze a new addition to my convention tours.
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Nov 21, 2011 11:21 AM
|Thanks for the write up! Glad you had a good time.|
A: This was our first year, so all those little isssues will be fixed for 2012.
B:We had over 30k attendees.
C: Our show is all about the community and is for the fans.
D: We promise to bring the best show possible at the lowest price!
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Every other Wednesday
Until I find my footing, I'd like to vent on the state of today's movies. I will occasionally praise a movie that piques my fancy. But it's a whole lot more fun railing against a person's work who makes more money on a single project than I would make if I lived 500 years. Oh, I will usually make observations on movies rather than films. The difference? Films are critically acclaimed, while movies are just darned good fun.
Born in the Fifties with an extreme phobia for movies in general, I became obsessed with movies when I broke that phobia with the first movie I actually enjoyed, “The Ten Commandments.” I particularly like the kind of movie where you can put your brain on hold. I get enough reality and drama in my everyday life; I refuse to pay someone to subject me to the same. |
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