ConShark

Preview: Stan Lee’s Comikaze 2014

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Tomorrow is Halloween, which must mean it’s also time for the return of Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo, this year taking place at the LA Convention Center from Friday, October 31 through Sunday, November 2.

We’ll be there again this year to check out the panels, exhibitors, and crowds; this is a show with a big cosplay presence and also one that attracts a pretty big weekend crowd altogether, especially considering they’ve only been around since 2011. The Halloween date also ensures some decent horror genre representation, and a big focus on kids complete with exhibit hall trick-or-treating.

Badge pickup begins Thursday afternoon, 3pm – 7pm; however, if you’re planning on coming on Friday, we’d recommend simply waiting until then. If you’re not coming until Saturday, however, and you’re able to swing by Thursday badge pickup, we highly recommend it: Saturday registration lines have a history of being quite long.

Last year the con expanded into Friday, although it’s still only a half day. And the Friday crowds in 2013 were really nowhere to be found: the exhibit hall was wide open and lines for panels were very short. Coinciding with Halloween this year should help boost the workday crowd levels quite a bit – but if you base your crowd expectations on Friday’s attendance, you’ll be surprised by the wall of humanity you’ll be faced with on Saturday and Sunday.

Parking at the LA Convention Center is classically LA, in that it is neither easy nor cheap. Expect to pay $20 per day and probably to be wedged into a corner of a parking lot that isn’t actually a parking space (we speak from experience). Alternatively, we highly recommend taking the Metro light rail: the Blue Line Pico Station is about a block away from the convention center and costs $1.75 each way. (Metro recently changed their fee structure and now allows for free transfers between rail lines, making this option even cheaper.) It’s an easy walk, and you should be wearing walking shoes anyway: the LA convention center is big and you’ll be on your feet most of the day.

In fact, you’ll even be on your feet at some panels if you choose to stick to the big events being held on the Main Stage (er, that’s the Hot Topic Main Stage, actually). That’s because the Main Stage is actually in the back of the exhibit hall and does not have any seating – it’s standing room only. Get there late enough for a popular panel and you’ll be stuck trying to crane your neck over the booths in the back. There’s some fun programs scheduled for this space, but it’s location and logistics are one of our biggest complaints about the show. (It also means you should brace yourself for a louder show floor than usual.)

Programming upstairs is more typical, although be prepared for intimidating-looking lines: without a lot of additional hallways or space, the usually quite reasonable lines for panels look like an unconquerable beast thanks simply to the compact space they have to work with.

Looking at the programming schedule, there’s a huge number of how-to’s and fashion programs – and it seems even lighter on comics programming than last year. If you’re an aspiring creative, though, Comikaze is a great place to be: there are how-to panels for just about anything you can think of. And while 2/3 of past attendees have been male, the many fashion-related panels may perhaps be an indication of a sea change.

And this year adds a Saturday night event: the Cosplay Ball, which will be held next door at Club Nokia and is free with your Saturday or 3-day badge. (Friday and Sunday only attendees are out of luck.) Cosplay isn’t required but the event is ages 18 and up only. Entertainment is set to include a few bands, and we’re looking forward to checking out what else the event will offer.

Read on for our programming highlights:

Friday:

3:30, 306AB, POSING FOR COSPLAY PHOTOGRAPHY: Learn the theory behind examples of advanced cosplay photos and learn how you can apply them to even your casual photos. Bring your cosplay to the next level!

At 5:00, a how-to quadruple feature:

301B, GEEKS GET PUBLISHED – AND PAID!: Trouble finding a publisher? How about a literary agent? Is getting into print different when your topic is particularly geeky? And where’s the money in online publishing? Hear how these authors got their works out there, how they made money at it, and how you might, too.

408AB, YOUTUBING LIKE A BOSS!: Thinking about a cool career on YouTube? Come learn the ins and outs of creating a popular YouTube channel, from writing and marketing to corporate networking and, of course, forging a relationship with your fans!

308AB, HOW TO MAKE BEER MONEY WITH YOUR COMICS: If you make your own zines or comics, you might wonder: how can I turn this into something, like beer? Join us for practical tips on earning money with your art.

306AB, HOW TO MAKE AND MARKET A BOARDGAME: Are you interested in getting into making board games? Do you have an idea and want to see it come to reality? Learn from our Experts!

6:30, Hot Topic Main Stage, GEEK FASHION SHOW: Come and enjoy the best geek-inspired fashions by a selection of the top geek fashion houses in our annual geek fashion show!

Saturday:

9:00, 406AB DEVELOPING & SELLING ANIMATED TV SERIES: You’ve got a great original idea. Or maybe you’ve got a comic book series. Maybe a game. Maybe a novel. But you know it would make a great animated TV series. What do you need to do to make that a reality? Can you just show your notes? What goes into a series pitch document? Who do you show it to and how do you get to see them? What form does a pitch take? And when you make that deal, what’s likely to happen? Hear from people who’ve been there and done that. Participants: Craig Miller (Pocket Dragon Adventures, Trash Pack), Ted Biaselli (Development Executive), Henry Gilroy (Transformers Prime, Gargoyles), Tatiana Krokar (Manager of Action-Comedy Content, Cartoon Network), Bob Roth (Disney’s Legend of Tarzan, Penguins of Madagascar), Andrew Robinson (Kaijudo: Rise Of The Duel Masters, Young Justice)

Get there early alert: 12:30, 404AB, THE THRILLING ADVENTURE HOUR: The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a staged show in the style of old-time radio performed live, monthly at Largo at the Coronet in Hollywood as well as on the road. The show sells out monthly and features all of your favorite actors from the worlds of TV, comedy, animation, film, theater, and improv. Participants: Ben Acker, Ben Blacker, Aaron Ginsburg, Paul F. Tompkins, Craig Cackowski, Hal Lublin, Janet Varney, Autumn Reeser and more!

1:30, 308AB, SPIDER-MAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES 20TH ANNIVERSARY: Spider-Man: The Animated Series introduced a whole generation to the famous web-slinger in the first of his adventures for TV that captured the true spirit of the original comic book.

3:00, 304ABC, THE NERDIST WRITERS PANEL: COMICS EDITION: Watch us talk about the process and business of writing comics. Plus, you never know which of their comics and entertainment pals might join to conversation! NWP: Comics Edition is a popular podcast on Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist network.

At 4:00, two simultaneous improv shows:

402AB, COMIC BOOK LIVE PRESENTS: BLACK SPIDER-MAN & THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY!: “Comic Book Live!” is a live and improvised stage adaptation of a comic book or graphic novel performed in full cosplay! Gifts and prizes (FREE COMIC BOOKS) at every show! We’ll also be debuting new episodes of Black Spider-Man: The “Web” Series!

306AB, DOCTOR WHO LIVE: AN IMPROVISED EPISODE OF DOCTOR WHO: We perform a fully improvised episode of Doctor Who based on an audience suggestion.

Get there early alert: 4:00, 408AB, THE MIDDLEMAN: It’s the Funny Book Exposition Appearance! Join creator Javier Grillo-Marxuach and star Natalie Morales (Wendy Watson) as they talk about all-things Middleverse.

6:00, Hot Topic Main Stage, COSPLAY CONTEST: With over $10,000 in cash, and additional prizes, the Comikaze Cosplay Contest is one of the premiere cosplay contests in the country. Featuring some of the best cosplayers on the Con circuit today, who will walk away with the big prizes this year?

8:00, Club Nokia, THE STAN LEE’S COMIKAZE EXPO COSPLAY BALL! THE OFFICIAL AFTER-PARTY OF COMIKAZE EXPO!: Put on your Cosplay finest and join other attendees at Club Nokia for the FREE COSPLAY BALL! Hosted by Bernie Bregman an presented by Club Cosplay/Nerds Like Us, the Cosplay Ball will feature LIVE performances from Songhammer and The Flux Capacitors, a live DJ, and more fun than you can shake a fancy shillelagh at! Club Nokia is located in LA Live on the 2nd Level. This event is free to Comikaze attendees who hold a Saturday or 3-Day badge. Limited capacity, entry will be on a first-come, first-served basis. This is an 18+ only event.

9:30, Hot Topic Main Stage, OFFICIAL COMIKAZE STUNT SHOW, BROUGHT TO YOU BY IRON SHIELD ARMS AND COMBAT STUNT CONSULTING: Don’t miss this exciting demo from Shield Arms, the professionals behind many of the great fight scenes you’ve seen in the movies.

Get there early alert: 10:00, 406AB, GOTHAM ADVANCE SCREENING AND EXECUTIVE PRODUCER Q&A: Get an advance look at episode 107 of the hit FOX show, followed by a Q&A session with Executive Producer Danny Cannon!

11:00, 308AB, VOICENADO: VOICE ACTORS UNLEASHED: A panel of voice actors from video games, TV, features and animation do a live Q&A and improvise in character in a fun interactive family friendly event. Participants: Kiff VandenHeuvel, Amy Phillips (Stevie TV, CougarTown, E!, Cab Ride to Hell, Watch What Happens LIVE), Chris Cox (Batman: Assault on Arkham, Ultimate Spiderman, Avengers Assemble), Scott Whyte (The Mighty Ducks, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare), Rachel Butera (America’s Got Talent, The Howard Stern Show, Golan The Insatiable), Eric Lopez (Young Justice: Legacy, Spectacular Spiderman, Final Fantasy XIII), Fred Tatasciore (Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, Destiny, The Boxtrolls, Gravity Falls), Andre Sogliuzzio (Puss in Boots, Phineas and Ferb, American Dad!), Amanda Troop (Wilfred, Wildstar, BAMF Girls Club)

Get there early alert: 304ABC, COMIKAZE GUEST OF HONOR: JOHN BARROWMAN: The star of Doctor Who, Arrow, Torchwood and so much more discusses his career and projects.

1:00, 404AB, NERDIST WRITERS PANEL: COMICS EDITION SPOTLIGHT ON ROB PRIOR: Be there as part of this LIVE taping of the show when we deep dive into Rob’s artistic evolution from a young painter for Dungeons & Dragons to his two-handed painting approach developed while working on Spawn, Evil Ernie and Heavy Metal.

Get there early alert: 1:00, 406AB, SLEEPY HOLLOW – SPECIAL ADVANCED SCREENING OF “DELIVERANCE” EPISODE: Get an advanced screening at an all new episode of Sleepy Hollow! Plus Q&A with Co-Executive Producers and Writers Albert Kim, Damien Kindler and Raven Metzner! SLEEPY HOLLOW is an edge-of-your-seat mysteries and adventures series that focuses on the heroic duo of ICHABOD CRANE (Tom Mison) and ABBIE MILLS (Nicole Beharie) as they fends off the forces of evil to save not only their town, but the world. SLEEPY HOLLOW airs on Mondays at 9 PM ET/PT.

3:00, 402AB, WRITING ANIMATION: The ins and outs and secrets of writing animation for today’s television and internet market. Working writers and producers with hundreds of scripts and years of experience on TV shows and web series tell you what you need to know to write and sell scripts. Participants: Craig Miller, Stan Berkowitz (Justice League: New Frontier, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies), Craig Miller (Beast Wars, Curious George), Bob Skir (Transformers Prime, Gargoyles), Dean Stefan (Matchbox Big Rig Buddies, Quack Pack).