Heroes and villains from the Marvel and DC universes, television’s best zombie killers, R2D2 and about two dozen Deadpools were among the diverse cast of iconic characters that roamed the floors of the Los Angeles Convention Center this weekend for Stan Lee’s Comikaze, along with the horde of devoted fans that attended the comic book and pop-culture expo’s fourth consecutive year.
Lee and Elvira Mistress of the Dark, along with Comikaze Entertainment Inc. have put together another successful and true all things pop-culture convention for the fans, ran by the icons themselves. This year’s expo was host to hundreds of artist and vendors, celebrity appearances, exclusive announcements, a vast selection of interactive programming platforms and a talented and stunning display of the art of cosplay.
Comikaze was brimming with cosplayers who strutted from isle to isle, coming to a frequent stop to strike a choreographed pose for enthusiastic fans and professional photographers.
The assortment of costumes ranged from intricately detailed popular video game and comic book characters to homemade, lesser-known personalities.
Some professional cosplayers can spend into the high hundreds and even thousands of dollars in order to get their costumes to be as accurate as possible. The more amateur cosplay enthusiast like Matt Olmedo, who was one of the many Deadpools in attendance, went a different route in his fairly accurate design.
“These are just regular weight lifting gloves and I got the belt and the harnesses for the guns on amazon. These are just airsoft guns. The katana and the backpack I got from a little ninja set from Walmart,” Olmedo said. “I just spray-painted everything mad-black. The suit itself, I got it custom made from a site overseas that does lycra material suits. You can submit the measurements for your body and they will send it to you. This one cost $80.”
Olmedo, like thousands of others, look forward to conventions like Comikaze in order to participate in the highly popular world of cosplay.
“I love the community of cosplay. Coming in and seeing everyone dressed up is the best part for me.” Olmedo said.
If dressing up isn’t one’s forte, there were many opportunities to take advantage of the easy access to the artist and celebrities. Prolific comic book creators, writers and illustrators lined the expansive Artist Alley to sign their names on their respected creations.
Among the artist posted in the alley was Rob Liefeld (co-creator of Deadpool and X-Men’s Cable) who also shed some light on the upcoming Deadpool movie and rumors surrounding Ryan Reynolds during a panel on the main stage.
“The Deadpool script is fantastic. Three years ago, Director Tim Miller came to me he goes, ‘Rob, I want you to come up and see what we’re doing.’ And he showed me all the pre-prep work. And then, Ryan Reynolds is pulling up to film this scene that day. And I’m like, ‘Oh, my gosh, what is happening?'” Liefeld told the ecstatic audience. “Ryan is Deadpool…He has a huge, huge passion for Deadpool. Deadpool’s not happening, because he was a giant star, they said, ‘Ryan, what do you want to do?’ And he said, ‘Deadpool.’ That’s why it happened. They would have no faith otherwise. That movie is because of his passion. He put together the team.”
Sci-fi stars and television legends inhabited the Autograph Arena where they met with fanboys and fangirls of all ages. The celebrities on hand to meet and greet fans were from some of the biggest shows of today and from the biggest shows of yesterday.
“Game of Thrones” cast members Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth) and Esme Bianco (Ros) were signing autographs alongside sc-fi legends Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Gallactica) and the original Robin from 1960s Batman TV series, Burt Ward.
The talent heavy and extremely diversified programming gave fans an all-inclusive look and rare opportunities to hear from the creators and actors of their favorite television series or comic book.
One panel featured the “Nobility” panel. “Nobility” is a science-fiction show that is said to be along the lines of “The Office” meets “Firefly”. The cast, along with the creator and producer, E.J. De La Pena, took the stage to discuss the premise of the soon to be seen series and how Comikaze has helped with the exposure of the show.
“The big thing with going to conventions is that the people are hungry for this kind of sci-fi. Sci-fi fans haven’t been getting what they want…they want something that is intelligent, that gives them hope for the future. They want something that is entertaining and relates to them on a personal level,” De La Pena said. “Comikaze has been good for us so far. A lot of sci-fi fan attention is gained.”
Perhaps the best take-a-way from the weekend’s festivities was The Marvel Experience booth and demo. The Marvel Experience is a massive 140,000 square-foot traveling tour complex that has seven large inflatable domes, the first ever 4-D traveling motion ride and a 360-degree 3-D projection exhibit that immerses the audience into a battle sequence along side the heroes of Marvel.
According to Jason Rosen, chief production officer of Hero Ventures, the main producers behind project, the experience has three major components. There’s a visual component, a physical interactive training component a simulation motion based component.
The Marvel Experience starts off with an orientation by S.H.I.E.L.D in an IMAX type setting. As the newest recruit you are eased into the experience through an interactive training program that includes a Spiderman climbing wall, a Hulk Smash area and a Black Widow agility zone. Throughout their orientation, their training and simulation the audience will be submerged in the Marvel universe as they prepare for an epic battle against Red Skull, M.O.D.O.K. and Hydra.
“The cool thing is that we have the entire Marvel Universe to play with. We’re able to put all of the characters into our universe, not a cinematic universe and not the comic universe and create our own story lines,” Rosen said. “Eventually we’re talking about bringing in characters like Daredevil, Antman, different X-men characters, Gaurdians of the Galaxy or The Defenders.”
The Marvel Experience is set to launch in Phoenix at the end of the year, starting in November and on through December, then onto Dallas, San Diego and San Francisco before heading to the East Coast. They intend to announce tour dates in the coming weeks. For more information on the Marvel Experience and ticket purchasing, visit themarvelexperience.com.
If the madness of the convention floor, the exclusivities of the panel discussions and a chance to purchase rare art and collectables wasn’t enough for attendees to handle, the legend himself, Stan Lee, walked the floor and rubbed elbows with his biggest admirers in between his multiple appearances on the Hot Topic Main Stage.
Lee thanked fans for attending and said that the fans were the reason behind the event’s success. Lee explained that with the fan’s passion and commitment, Comikaze could challenge the other major comic book and pop-culture convention in California.
According to the Comikaze website, the attendance has increased 20-25 percent annually since 2011 and with numbers like that, San Diego’s Comic Con has some real competition on its tail.