Stan Lee is a creative and marketing juggernaut. The mere mention of his name brings geeks to their costumed knees, and for good reason. The man, who has lived on this spinning rock for close to 100 revolutions around the sun, is responsible for some of the most iconic superhero creations known to pop-culture. With a résumé including Spider-Man, Hulk, Fantastic Four, Wolverine and countless others, you can see why the 91-year-old has no intentions of going quietly into the night.
For the pop-culture God who seemingly has everything, there was a several-year span when Stan’s name was glaringly absent from one obvious nerd item which every self-proclaimed geek dreams about. No, not a date on Friday night, but a comic convention named after themselves. (Admittedly, at this point I’d take the date.) That dream became a reality just a few short years ago as Mr. Lee aligned himself with the Comikaze Expo which takes place in Los Angeles, CA during the first weekend of November.
Comikaze happens to be one of my preferred convention-based events due to its Three Bears atmosphere–not too big and not too small, but just right. It’s also the only convention I’ve attended where the biggest panels and announcements are made on a stage setup amidst the chaos of the main sales floor where all the vendors have taken up residence. It’s a neat idea in that almost everyone can congregate somewhere in the vicinity of the stage which is set back towards the rear of the hall. The immense video display and sound system projecting out to the heart of the floor means the masses can spend their hard-earned money while catching some noteworthy panels.
The down side – and there is always a down side – is, the more popular the panel, the larger the radius of bodies congregating into the aisles of vendors. The sight of it all had me sure the Fire Marshall must have been in a corner of the building, balled up in the fetal position and downing a bottle of cheap scotch.
On the subject of large crowds, I think it’s is also worth mentioning (again, if you listened to Wild Wild Podcast #13) that Comikaze marked co-host Spunky Destructor’s first “big” con. While she has traveled with the Outlaw to the C4 Convention in Ventura, CA a few times, this was a step up to the big leagues for her. After all was said and done, she confessed she had a blast despite her wallet taking a severe beating.
Hers wasn’t the only money transporter that was the subject to abuse, as the Outlaw laid out a good chunk of change to meet and greet with a few familiar faces from the land of pop culture. Jewel Staite (Firefly, Serenity) was the first stop on my sci-fi celebrity tour, and justifiably so. With Kaylee being my favorite character from Joss Whedon’s cult-hit space western and with the Geek Outlaw community having voted to name my chi-wiener pup after Jewel’s character in the series, getting a quick pic with the beauty was a no-brainer. Ms. Staite was honored to hear about the naming and thought Kaylee was absolutely adorable when I flashed a photo of her before our own photo-op. The Outlaw himself on the other hand… well let’s just say Jewel still may be trying to figure out what the heck she took a photograph with that storied day.
The next stop on the tour took me on a more classic route to visit none other than the original Boy Wonder himself, Burt Ward. As one of the first superhero pieces of entertainment my pupils ever absorbed, getting to meet one of my childhood TV heroes made me a bit weak in the knees. Mr. Ward was incredibly gracious and actually enjoyed the Outlaw getup. Unfortunately, the other half of the Batman 1966 series’ Dynamic Duo, Adam West, was supposed to be there with him but came down ill before the show. “Holy Obamacare Batman!”
Despite the looming issue that I will no longer be able to buy food this month, it was definitely worth it in the end.
One of the biggest (and absolutely free) surprises of the celebrity meet and greet took place at a little booth called Stranger Comics which was be tucked away towards a corner of the building. The company was promoting it’s latest graphic novel titled “The Untamed.” Writer Sebastian A. Jones described the story as being narrated by the man with the Hollywood equivalent of nine lives, Sean Bean. Although Mr. Bean wasn’t there (either of them for that matter), both Spunky Destructor and I were surprised to meet Amandla Stenberg who played Rue in the first Hunger Games film. The beautiful young lady, who looks like she hasn’t aged a day since the movie hit big screens, was on hand as her likeness was used for a character in the comic book series. It was an unexpected surprise to meet her and proof that the convention odds were definitely in our favor. Oh come on, you had to see that one coming? (Long time Outlaw readers undoubtedly spotted it before I even thought about typing it.)
If everything I just presented wasn’t enough to convince you this convention had it all, then hopefully sharing the significant tidbit that fellow blogger and Podthingy co-host, Hot Nerd Girl participated in her first ever panel at Comikaze, should blow your socks off. (Unless of course, you are wearing sandals or have a severe allergy to all forms of footwear.) Tracy participated in some socially relevant pop-culture topics while also playing an intense game of nerd trivia with her co-panelists.
Barbra Dillon (aka my boss) from FanboyComics.net, also made a panel appearance as she hosted a Q & A with some of today’s up and coming comic book industry talents. One of those talented individuals happened to be Sebastian Kadlecik, who is the creator, writer, and illustrator for the growing graphic novel hit, Penguins vs Possums.
Alas, as I’ve come to learn these past few years, you guys really don’t come here for the words, you come for the photos. In fact, I’d be impressed if you’ve gotten this far with out scrolling to the photo section. Not a worry though, I don’t mind being used for my photos, as long as I’m being used for something. With that, please enjoy the following visuals from Comikaze 2014.
The Costumed Creatives:
The Artistic… Artists: