This past weekend marked my second year attending the Comikaze Expo, â€œStan Leeâ€™s Comikaze Expo.â€ Last year, I went on a Sunday and had a long, informative, and entertaining conversation with Herb Trimpe . Sadly, Herb couldnâ€™t attend this year, and aside from Len Wein (who I interviewed at the 2013 Long Beach Comic-Con), there really wasnâ€™t any comics creator of a similar stature and history.
Except Stan Lee, who of course, was there, and whom I was told I would be able to pose some questions to â€” and which I was hoping to post here, on the GoD page.
Backing up a few days: I get an email from the LiveJournal PR flack that I could be put on a list to attend Stanâ€™s big announcement and ask him some questions afterwards. I eagerly reply that â€œYes, Iâ€™d love to be put on the list.â€ I get a follow-up email a few days after that, informing me that â€œYes, Iâ€™ve made the list!â€
Although I was excited, I couldnâ€™t help but wonder how LiveJournal would be able to pull off holding a big announcement, with a press section, all in their booth. The answer was that they couldnâ€™t. There was no organization to this whatsoever. Anybody attending Comikaze was seemingly on â€œthe list.â€
Hereâ€™s how it went down: a crush of people (fans and press) gathered outside the tiny LiveJournal booth. Stan shows up and is hustled to the booth and seated at a table. Someone makes an announcement to the audience. Then someone asks Stan questions; Stan answers. I have no idea what the announcement, or answers were about, as the speaker volume was at -11. Nobody standing around me could hear a word.
There was no designated press area, nor any staff able/willing to tell the gawkers to move aside so that the press could approach the table. Several press members standing next to me were also complaining about the utter chaos and lack planning from LiveJournal.
Needless to say, I got nowhere near Stan, except when he was leaving the â€œevent.â€
What else? I wandered the aisles, bought some comics (actually a good armful, and got some great deals too!). I passed by the big main stage (the â€œHot Topic Mainstageâ€ more precisely â€” everything is branded/sponsored nowadays), as they were introducing the â€œLegends of Comics.â€ This is a highly subjective term, as the â€œlegends” were John Romita Jr, Mark Silvestri, and Rob Liefeld. I kept walking.
There were dozens of small publishers there, and I mixed guilt and sheepishness at not checking any of them out in detail, with the honest emotion of not being compelled by any of their offerings.
Elvira was there (Cassandra Peterson is a co-investor of the show, along with Stan), and it looked like about two hundred people were in line to meet her. Howie Mandel was in the booth next to her, though only about one-tenth of the people were lining up to meet the star of â€œDeal Or No Deal.â€ The actors from the Power Rangers live-action show were also there.
To its credit Comikaze did feature a variety of programming, from â€œSexuality in Cosplayâ€ (is this even a question?) to â€œThe Death of Superman Lives â€” What Happened?â€, to â€œThe Mad TV Reunionâ€ (none of the ones you liked were there; OK, except Will Sasso), to â€œSuper Single Geeks,â€ a mixer for those unable to find someone special. Speaking of someone â€œspecial,â€ Tommy Wiseau was also there, hosting a screening of The Room.
Overall, and after attending for two consecutive years, I honestly donâ€™t think that Comikaze needs three days right now. It certainly seems like everything worth doing/seeing could be accomplished in one day. And the demand isnâ€™t even near peak, as tickets were on sale for a discount in the days just prior to the show, and on sale, on site, day of.
I get the strong sense that Comikaze is seeking to eventually challenge the vaunted San Diego Comic-Con â€” that is, by being a multimedia type of show of which actual comic books form only a portion of the show. At the present, they are several years and/or several real superstar guests away from even approaching that level.
That said, I do hope the show grows, and I might attend again next year, but at the moment, Iâ€™m lukewarm at best.