Comikaze stakes claim as L.A.’s answer to Comic-con

Jonathan R. Diaz

Cosplayers, geeks and other pop culture aficionados packed the L.A. Convention Center this past weekend for Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo. The three day event celebrated everything pop culture. Comic books, video games, anime, science fiction, horror and fantasy each had a place on the convention floor. “Everything was sectioned off nicely,” said Isaiah Dominguez, 28. “You didn’t have to run around to find your niche.”


A main stage was set up at the end of the hall which showcased various events such as stunt shows, celebrity interviews and cosplay competitions. Cosplayers were a huge part of this event. In addition to the standard superheroes, other cosplayers included characters from “Doctor Who,” “The Walking Dead,” “Halo” and “Adventure Time.”


While many of the costumes were hand-made, the best ones come down to originality. Giant Chicken Boba Fett, (“Family Guy”) Fujita Homer, (“Dragonball Z,” “The Simpsons”) Dark Helmet and Barf (“Spaceballs”) were some of the crowd favorites. As part of a new show on Syfy, some professional cosplayers were dressed as websites such as Google, Twitter, WebMD and Pinterest. “I loved seeing some of my favorite cosplayers,” said Chantelle Rios, 26. “I love watching how they come up with some unique creations.” Like any convention, celebrity appearances were also a big part of Comikaze.


Alyssa Milano, LeVar Burton, “Weird” Al Yankovic and Lou Ferigno were just a few of the celebrities in attendance. For fans of 90s cartoons, there was also a “Powerpuff Girls” reunion. There was also a strong video game presence, but not in the way you might expect. Gaming at Comikaze took the form of the Video Game History Museum. According to their website, they are, “dedicated to archiving and preserving the stories of how the industry evolved as well as honoring and documenting the contributions of the people that made it possible.”


They had vintage consoles on display which included everything from the Magnavox Odyssey (1972) to the Nintendo 64 (1996). Some consoles were playable, such as Mattel’s Intellivision and the Atari 2600. Arcade games were also part of this interactive museum. The games included everything from “Donkey Kong” and “Roadblasters,” to “Burger Time” and “Street Fighter II.” A draw for Gen Xers and Millenials alike, this part of the convention was the most diverse.


Other exhibits included Stan Lee’s Mega Museum, which displayed props and collectibles from various Marvel characters and the Spooky World of Elvira, which showcased the memorabilia and wardrobe from the Mistress of the Dark. Both Lee and Elvira (née Cassandra Peterson) have been partners in presenting Comikaze since last year.


What began as L.A.’s answer to San Diego Comic Con was the brainchild of Regina Carpinelli. who wanted to bring a convention to Los Angeles since Wizard World canceled their Los Angeles event in 2009. The expo attracted 30,000 people its first year and the attention of comic book legend Stan Lee. Through his company Pow! Entertainment, he helped the expo rebrand and grow. No longer “the poor man’s Comic Con,” Comikaze is becoming a contender in its own right with a focus on the fans. As long as this dynamic is not tampered with, Comikaze will continue to rule Los Angeles.