Sunday, November 2, 2014

Con-Man: Comikaze 2014

Downtown Los Angeles was bumping this weekend with not only the premiere hometown Comics and Pop Culture convention Comikaze taking place over three days but new addition Hello Kitty Con kicked off Wednesday night.  Throw in Danny Elfman at the Nokia next door along with the plethora of usual goings on in Downtown and the strange renaissance/gentrification/hipstering of America's last remaining Skid Row continues.

Comikaze started at 9:00 AM Saturday morning so I figured a 10:00 AM arrival would equal an easily accessible convention.  I was wrong, a huge line wrapped around the convention center for peeps who had already bought their tickets but just needed to pick up their badges.  Once we actually got in, I was confused and annoyed to see no less than a dozen staff members waving signs for badge pick up as no one was in line.  Are we throttling crowds here or something?  It wasn't that hopping in the lobby yet and the floor wasn't bad either.  Not sure if it's just me but it seemed like there were less exhibitors this year so we more or less covered the floor looking at swag, comics and random cool stuff then making our way over to the main stage for a few of the presentations.  Right away, a dude from Food Network and company presented Stan Lee with a huge, Hulk statue of a cake then throughout the day Rob Liefeld along with cast members from Game of Thrones and True Blood took to the stage to talk shop.  Again, this is a nice idea but standing in a crowd of people for more than 20 minutes gets annoying as the sound isn't great, people don't fill in gaps then wave their arms around not minding their surroundings and being on your feet all day gets tiring.  Moderation wasn't great either as one host talked way too much about her opinion while another had no flow whatsoever and cut to some really awkward, in your face camera phone questions.

Purveyors of the video games you grew up with continue to grow at these shows, lots of them from Texas!  Apparently there's a physical museum in Frisco, a non-profit that preserves and archives video games along with it's inherent art, design, press and whatnot.  It's a trip to see N64's, Super Nintendos, Sega Genesis' and their cartridges for sale, don't we all have those in a box in the basement our mom threw out?  Funko Pop figures are still everywhere with just about every character you can imagine and I picked up a show exclusive of Captain America aka Steve Rogers in costume but without his mask. 

Speaking of Captain America, I still didn't find issue #14 from his current run returning from Dimension Z but I did pick up a stack of great mid-80's adventures by Mark Gruenwald and Paul Neary with some covers by Mike Zeck and John Bryne where Cap teams up with the likes of Hawkeye and D-Man to battle Super Patriot, Whirlwind, MODAK, Blue Streak, The Scourge and may others while riding around America on his motorcycle.  Sure I already have these in a box somewhere in Ohio but at .50 a pop, I just couldn't pass up the chance to revisit these great adventures.  Cap firing off with an Uzi on the cover of #321 is reason enough to grab a 2nd copy.  I don't tend to buy many comics in stores these days since I don't read anything regularly and you can usually find great deals at shows.  Take for instance the Frank Miller and Walter Simonson Robocop VS The Terminator series, I've been kicking the tires online and saw a collected edition at my local shop recently but picked up the single issues for cheap at the show.  Was nice to see Mile High Comics set up as I know their physical sales have gone down while online numbers have skyrocketed.

Around the floor you also had set ups for Stan Lee's Museum, Elvira's Spooky something or other, replicas of the Back to the Future Delorean, K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider, a smaller set up from Stan Winston's Studio than last year, some other costume and prop shops and a full row of Marvel guys like Cap, Thor, Iron Man and The Hulk from the movies.  Cosplay wise I was surprised to only see one female Loki as that's been a popular choice of late.  Jack Frost from Rise of the Guardians was represented and strangely, Elliott from E.T. i.e. dudes wearing hoodies with fake bicycle baskets and handle bars attached to their stomach with the alien sticking out.  Points for creativity for sure.  Lots of guys from Call of Duty and one confirmed Jack Burton sighting.  Food wise, the convention center was surrounded by food trucks but all touted long lines.  Inside was worse as hot items like burgers, hot dogs and tacos were being slung out from single lines at all locations making for huge queues and waiting times.

To wrap up the day we checked out our only panel in a panel room, The Death of Superman Lives, What Happened?  I've been following John Schnep's quest to uncover what became of Tim Burton's big budget take on Superman in the mid-90's that was to star Nicolas Cage and had early drafts written by Kevin Smith then polished by J.J. Abrams and Nightcrawler's Dan Gilroy among others.  Thinking it would take about 8 months to craft a documentary, Schnep and crew are entering month eighteen.  It started late as Kevin Smith ran long, shocker, but the now non-bearded, non-sugar eating icon of movies, film and podcasts introduced the panel as the only real information the public had on Supes was from Smith's rant during a Q&A session years ago.  Smith talked about the feeling of failure from the dismal performance of Mallrats and being shit canned from Superman Lives once Tim Burton came on board.  Dogma co-star Chris Rock was to play Jimmy Olson while they couldn't film in certain parts of Pittsburgh due to them being earmarked for Superman shooting that never occurred.

Schnepp took the stage and explained the genesis of the piece, how he'd save every photo or article about the film then after a production video surfaced of a costume test surfaced on YouTube, the director decided to just go for it.  He's now interviewed most every major talent involved from director Tim Burton to the costume designer and special effects crew to concept artists and of course, writer Kevin Smith.  It looks like it's going be very cool and in depth as they screened an extended clip talking about a light up suit that was to be used for a 2 minute, rebirth/regeneration sequence where the beat to death Superman is brought back to life in an incubation chamber of wondrous technological and alien power.  Schnepp plans to release the film in early 2015 at cons like Emerald City, Wonder Con and of course, San Diego.

Overall a fun day at Comikaze but part of me feels like I'm getting too old for this shit between the crowds, lines and blah blah blah.  Maybe I'll just stick with Wonder Con and San Diego as the hassle is more than worth the experience.  Until then, it's Comics Arts Los Angeles then Phoenix Comicon next!

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