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Preview: Stan Lee’s Comikaze 2015

Comikaze Expo 2014.127Happy Halloween! With All Hallows’ Eve taking place on a Saturday this year, that puts Stan Lee’s Comikaze right smack in the center of the holiday action. Back again for their usual Halloween weekend dates at the Los Angeles Convention Center in downtown LA, Comikaze has become LA’s most prominent con – most other major SoCal events are not within LA City limits.

Tickets for Comikaze are still available – in fact, there are still discount codes out there for you! Try the PBS Nerd discount for 15% off (code DOWNTON).

We’ll be there this weekend, but first, let’s take a peek a what we have to look forward to!

First Timer?

Comikaze Expo 2014.52Is this your first visit to Comikaze? Check out our coverage from previous years, and our overall review:

Comikaze is a solid show that leans heavily on cosplay, TV, collectibles, and celebrity guests. Held at the LA Convention Center, it’s a pain to get to but easy to get around: there are many restaurants in the area and nightlife at LA Live next door makes it easy to stay out late.

Friday is a half day, open from 1pm to 7pm with programming beginning at 3pm. Saturday runs 9am to 6pm followed by the Halloween Cosplay Ball after party at 8pm next door at Club Nokia. Sunday opens and 10am and the show wraps up at 4pm.

Transportation

While the official Comikaze “Survival Guide” recommends Lyft, you may not live close enough to the LA Convention Center to afford a car service. If you’ve never driven or parked at the LACC, brace yourself: downtown LA traffic can be challenging and parking is very difficult. Our parking advisory from last year still stands:

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/Expo Line Pico Station is about a block away from the convention center and costs $1.75 each way. (Metro’s fee structure 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.

Early Badge Pickup

Comikaze Expo 2014.8If you’d like to pick up your badge early, Comikaze is open now! Thursday badge pickup is open from 3:00pm to 7:00pm in Petree Hall at the Convention Center. You can even send one person to pick up your whole family or group’s tickets at once.

Can’t make it downtown today? (Don’t want to pay $20 parking just for badge pickup? We hear that.) Badge pickup opens at 10am Friday and 7am Saturday. Friday badge pickup at Comikaze has had long lines in the past, but seemed to improve last year. Come early and be prepared to wait, but organizers assure us they’re stepping up their badge pickup game.

Layout

Having trouble figuring out where you are in relation to where you need to be? We’ve layered the new Comikaze layout over a Google map – pull it up on your phone and find your way around!

There’s a big layout change in store this year for Comikaze, and it’s going to take some getting used to: where the exhibit hall used to occupy the entire South Hall, it will now be moving into the entire West Hall; in addition, Hall K of the South Hall will be used for the Hot Topic Main Stage, photo ops, autographs, and some museum exhibits. Comikaze also takes over the Concourse Hall, for gaming and programming space, and Petree Hall for registration & badge pickup.

Programming remains upstairs but is now situated above West Hall, instead of its previous home above South Hall. All the 500 rooms are above West Hall; the Screening Room (411) is just across the walkway above Concourse Hall. And Hall E, home to various improv and concert performances, is downstairs in Concourse Hall.

In short? This means more walking for you.

Comikaze Expo 2014.73West Hall: Hosting your friendly neighborhood vendors, fan groups, and artists alley, plus Stan Lee’s Mega Museum, and The Spooky World of Elvira. Special guests with also table in West Hall.

South Hall K: Home to the Hot Topic Main Stage, autograph alley, photo ops, Vocademy Photo Rotunda, Phil Tippett’s Tippet Studios, and the Hollywood SciFi & Horror Museum. Cosplay guests will also table in South Hall K.

Concourse Hall: Gaming tournaments in Hall F; Hall E to be used for programming (NerdFest LA).

Petree Hall: Registration/badge pickup.

South Hall Lobby: Additional registration. Traditionally where group cosplay photo meetups have taken place, and where most cosplayers tend to congregate (great lighting!).

Comikaze Expo 2014.71West Hall Lobby: Exhibitor, press, and pro registration.

Programming rooms: 501 – 518, upstairs above West Hall. 411 Screening Room, upstairs above Concourse Hall.

Main Stage: Remember above when we told you to wear your walking shoes? You’ll want those for panels, too: if you’re heading to anything at the Hot Topic Main Stage, it’s standing room only. Fellow short people: come early to wedge your way toward the front if you want to be able to see. We address this in depth in our Overall Review of Comikaze.

Food Trucks: Outside between West Hall and South Hall.

Take note that the downstairs exhibit space, Kentia Hall, is booked up for a separate private event; some cosplayers have gathered in this lobby in past years for group photos, so you may want to have an alternate plan.

And now, for your panel arrival time guesstimation pleasure, the approximate room capacities:

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Exhibit Hall

Comikaze Expo 2014.38Anchor vendors Hot Topic, Funko, and Lootcrate return to the Comikaze exhibit hall, now in the West Hall. Comikaze’s artists alley has historically been relatively strong, and their fan group tables have always been impressive. Don’t miss those two categories of tables!

A bonus this year: moving the Main Stage out of the main vendor hall means it should be a little quieter, and there should be fewer traffic jams in the back of the room. Hooray!

Like all conventions, Saturday afternoon on the floor can get crowded. Especially given the fact that this year’s Saturday of the show coincides with Halloween, you’d do well to target Friday, early Saturday, or Sunday for your shopping.

For families with kids, all vendors in West Hall (excluding autographs and artists alley) will be participating in booth-to-booth trick or treating on Saturday afternoon (noon to 2:00pm), handing out candy to kids 12 and under.

Evening Events
A Club Cosplay event in early 2015.

A Club Cosplay event in early 2015.

Last year, Comikaze introduced the Cosplay Ball, an 18+ afterparty held nearby at Club Nokia at LA Live (a five minute walk from the convention center). It returns this year and you can expect something similar to a Club Cosplay event (they share some marquee names), which features geeky bands and DJs, hosts in fully cosplay, and lots of dancing.

It’s a fun way to close the evening, but don’t expect anything nearly as rowdy as a true LA club on a Saturday night. (Which is good news to most of us!)

The Halloween Cosplay Ball is free for Saturday or 3 Day badge holders and starts at 8:00pm Saturday.

Details:

  • Cash bar.
  • Expect the full pat down, metal detector, and bag search that Club Nokia usually requires; outside drinks are not allowed.
  • You must show ID and your Comikaze Saturday or 3 Day badge to enter.
  • No bag check or coat check.
  • No costume weapons.
  • Venue holds 2500.
Programming Highlights

Comikaze Expo 2014.129As we mention in our main review of the show, Comikaze has never had a ton of comics programming, despite having Stan Lee’s name in their title. However, they do an excellent job pulling together how-to workshops for all kinds of things, and their LA location gives them great access to both behind the scenes talent and performers as well. Here’s a look at some of the best events happening this weekend:

Entertain Me!

Just want to sit back, relax, and maybe laugh a little? There’s a whole weekend worth of shows at NerdFest LA in Hall E in the Concourse Hall, with Harry Potter themed improv groups and geek band concerts. Outside this theater, we highly recommend VoiceNado: Voice Actors Assembled! on Saturday morning (see a clip below), or the comedy live draw Sketch Fighter (similar to the popular Quick Draw events at San Diego Comic-Con, but involving stand-up comedians). Mornings on the Main Stage feature Iron Shield Arms/Combat Stunt Consulting Superhero Showdown, aka a combat stunt demonstration. For pure geekery, try Versus! Who’d Win Battles Between Your Favorite Characters (similar to Starship Smackdown at WonderCon and Comic-Con) on Sunday morning.

Geek Community

Comikaze Expo 2014.69Tapping into the local community is an important part of all cons, and Comikaze has several panels helping you learn about the geek culture you’re a part of. On Friday, check out Star Trek Stories with famous early fangirl Bjo Trimble, or get the scoop on the start of geek cons at Early Fandom and Conventions. On Sunday, start your morning with The Evolution of Geek Culture, or close your show learning about Comic Book Culture Then and Now.

Behind the Scenes

Bob’s Burgers has a pavilion on the show floor, but other productions are bringing their behind-the-scenes stories to the panel stages. SuperMansion panels Friday at 6pm, following their early October premiere on Crackle. BoJack Horseman makes its first convention appearance on Saturday afternoon (and considering Netflix pretty much hates all cons other than NYCC, this is a big get for Comikaze).

Workshops & How-Tos

 

If you want to learn how to get better at your preferred skill, there are plenty of options for you – especially budding writers. Check out The Writer’s Journey: Breaking Into Comics and Hollywood Scriptwriting or Writing Great Video Games with Great Video Game Writers, both Saturday afternoon. Kids can learn to draw at Youth Can Draw, Too!: Chibi Heroes on Sunday. Or, mix a writing masterclass with great fun at Iron Author, “like Iron Chef except with writers.”

Special Guest Interviews
Comikaze's Main Stage

Comikaze’s Main Stage

Most special guest interviews are held on the Main Stage in the South Hall. On Saturday, watch a great lineup of comic heavyweights in the afternoon: Grant Morrison, Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, Stan Lee, Marc Silvestri, Rob Liefeld. Preceeding them on the stage is SFX legend and butt of the “you had one job, Phil!” internet meme, Phil Tippett. Star Trek’s Walter Koenig makes an appearance on Sunday as well.

Costume & Prop Competitions

Comikaze Expo 2014.70You certainly know about the Cosplay National Championship on Saturday afternoon, which follows the Kid’s Costume Contest; expect impressive displays at both. This year Comikaze also introduces the Prop Making National Championship on Sunday as well. And don’t forget about Friday’s Le Geek So Chic Fashion Show, which I can’t believe isn’t called Sew Chic.

 

Programming Highlight Details

Friday, October 30

  • Star Trek Stories
    Hear from the saviors of Star Trek TOS, John and Bjo Trimble, and classic Star Trek writer David Gerrold about Trek’s early days. Mr. Gerrold became a fan of a show and began submitting stories to become scripts, eventually leading to “The Trouble with Tribbles” and many novelizations and other Star Trek stories. The Trimbles were inspired to start the letter writing campaign that ultimately sent the series into syndication and kept it alive for fifty years. Their fan-interest ultimately led to a one of a kind behind the scenes knowledge of the show and lots of fun trivia!
    Date and time: Friday, October 30, 2015 – 4:00pm
    Panel Length: 50 Minutes
    Room: 518
  • Le Geek So Chic Fashion Show
    Returning for it’s 4th year, see the latest and greatest in Geek Fashion from the best geek houses in the industry!
    Date and time: Friday, October 30, 2015 – 5:00pm
    Panel Length: 50 Minutes
    Room: Hot Topic Main Stage
  • Early Fandom and Conventions
    A long, long time ago, right here in California, people were celebrating sci fi and fantasy books, television shows, and yes, the movies! Reminisce with John and Bjo Trimble about early Worldcons, costume contests, the LASFS, publishing zines, and of course their campaigns to Save Star Trek from cancellation and have a US Space Shuttle named “Enterprise.”
    Date and time: Friday, October 30, 2015 – 6:00pm
    Panel Length: 50 Minutes
    Room: 501BC
  • SuperMansion
    Creators, Writers, and Executive Producers Matt Senreich and Zeb Wells will discuss their brand-new stop-motion animated comedy SuperMansion, premiering Oct. 8 only on Crackle. Join the creators, along with SuperMansion animators and set designers to learn more about the creation of this uproarious, action-driven stop-motion comedy – and expect a surprise guest or two, as well!
    Date and time: Friday, October 30, 2015 – 6:00pm
    Panel Length: 50 Minutes
    Room: 511ABC

Saturday, October 31

  • VoiceNado: Voice Actors Assembled!
    VoiceNado: Voice Actors Assembled! is a live show featuring some of the top working VO actors live dubbing over classic clips from films, TV and animation, doing impressions and original characters. The show also features improvisation and (time permitting) Q&A. FAMILY FRIENDLY!
    Date and time:
    Saturday, October 31, 2015 – 9:30am
    Panel Length:
    75 Minutes
    Room:
    515A
  • Sketch Fighter
    Sketch Fighter is the game where professional artists are paired up with stand-up comedians for the ultimate kumite-style drawing tournament. These artists may be the best in their field when meeting monthly deadlines, but how will they do in 60 seconds? And how on Earth will they be able to guess what their comedian partners are drawing? At the end of each event, the art from the pads of each game are auctioned off with the money going to the Hero Initiative.
    Date and time:
    Saturday, October 31, 2015 – 10:00am
    Panel Length:
    50 Minutes
    Room:
    502A
  • Comikaze Guest of Honor: Phil Tippett
    Join the discussion with this living visual effects legend, as we discuss the Oscar winner’s work on such classic films like Star Wars, Indian Jones, Starhsip Troopers, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Robocop and so many more, along with getting an update on Phil Tippett’s MAD GOD.
    Date and time:
    Saturday, October 31, 2015 – 12:30pm
    Panel Length:
    25 Minutes
    Room:
    Hot Topic Main Stage
  • Comikaze Guest of Honor: Grant Morrison
    The comic book master takes the stage to discuss his work past, present…and future!
    Date and time:
    Saturday, October 31, 2015 – 1:00pm
    Panel Length:
    25 Minutes
    Room:
    Hot Topic Main Stage
  • Legends of Comics – Part 1
    Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, Stan Lee.
    Date and time:
    Saturday, October 31, 2015 – 1:30pm
    Panel Length:
    15 Minutes
    Room:
    Hot Topic Main Stage
  • Legends of Comics – Part 2
    Marc Silvestri & Rob Liefeld.
    Date and time:
    Saturday, October 31, 2015 – 1:45pm
    Panel Length:
    15 Minutes
    Room:
    Hot Topic Main Stage
  • Spotlight on Rob Liefeld
    The creator of Deadpool, Cable and X-Force joins us to discuss the latest information about his various projects.
    Date and time:
    Saturday, October 31, 2015 – 2:00pm
    Panel Length:
    25 Minutes
    Room:
    Hot Topic Main Stage
  • BLOOD, SWEATERS & TEARS: GETTING IN DEEP WITH BOJACK HORSEMAN
    Decider and Vox have called BoJack Horseman the best show on Netflix. Hitfix went a step further and said it’s “one of TV’s very best shows.” Now, in their first con appearance ever, the creators of BoJack Horseman explore the heart and soul of the funny, weird, unpredictable, groundbreaking animated series. Join creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg, series designer Lisa Hannawalt and supervising director Mike Hollingsworth for an in-depth journey into the making of the smash-hit Netflix series.
    Date and time:
    Saturday, October 31, 2015 – 2:00pm
    Panel Length:
    50 Minutes
    Room:
    515A
  • The Writer’s Journey: Breaking Into Comics and Hollywood Scriptwriting
    This panel will address the question every aspiring writer wants answered: “How do I break into the business?” If you are an unpublished writer with dreams of making it in the transmedia marketplace and you don’t know how or where to begin, this is the panel for you. Hollywood screenwriters and graphic novel producers share insider information, publishing secrets, and the professional realities on how to develop your ideas into a viable comics proposal. Moderated by 2015 Disney/ABC Writing Program winner and 2014 Eisner Award nominee Brandon Easton (Marvel’s Agent Carter, ThunderCats), the panel includes Geoffrey Thorne (Leverage, The Librarians), Marc Zicree (Star Trek: the Next Generation, Space Command), Erika Alexander (Concrete Park, Living Single), and Tony Puryear (Concrete Park, the Schwarzenegger film Eraser). Topics will include how to hire artists and build a strong contract, how to seek out a publisher, and how to navigate the tough new world of intellectual property management in the digital frontier.
    Date and time:
    Saturday, October 31, 2015 – 2:30pm
    Panel Length:
    75 Minutes
    Room:
    511ABC
  • Writing Great Video Games with Great Video Game Writers
    The co-authors of SLAY THE DRAGON: WRITING GREAT VIDEO GAMES moderate a panel on video game writing with some of the best video game writers working today. Learn what goes into creating stories for games; what tricks and tools are in the video game writers’ toolbox. Hear how these game writers broke into a business and the need now for more narrative designers in this every growing world. Guests include: Anne Toole, The Witcher Escape Dead Island Haris Orkin, Dying Light, Call of Juarez Karen Strassman, Til Morning’s Light, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Chris Avellone, Pillars of Eternity, Fallout: New Vegas,
    Date and time:
    Saturday, October 31, 2015 – 2:30pm
    Panel Length:
    50 Minutes
    Room:
    518
  • Kid’s Costume Contest presented by Disney•Pixar’s THE GOOD DINOSAUR
    The kids take over Comikaze! Don’t miss this special contest for our guests 12 and under as we try to find the cutest, most energetic kid in the crowd! Prizes presented b Disney•Pixar’s THE GOOD DINOSAUR! Check the program guide for registration information.
    Date and time:
    Saturday, October 31, 2015 – 3:00pm
    Panel Length:
    50 Minutes
    Room:
    Hot Topic Main Stage
  • Cosplay National Championship
    Over $10,000 in cash and prizes is up for grabs as the best of the best Cosplayers in the country come to stake their claim in one of three categories: Master, Journeymen and Junior. This is the Coplay contest you do not want to miss! Prize sponsors: CoKreate, Vocademy and more.
    Date and time:
    Saturday, October 31, 2015 – 4:00pm
    Panel Length:
    90 Minutes
    Room:
    Hot Topic Main Stage

Sunday, November 1

  • Iron Shield Arms/Combat Stunt Consulting Superhero Showdown
    Come watch the excitement as the professionals of the Iron Shield Arms/Combat Stunt A1:L5 Fight Team battle it out in a superpowered slugfest. Join us and cheer on your favorite superheroes (or villains)! Afterwards, get a photo with the cast of the show!
    Date and time:
    Sunday, November 1, 2015 – 10:00am
    Panel Length:
    50 Minutes
    Room:
    Hot Topic Main Stage
  • The Evolution of Geek Culture
    Join as Dr. Billy interviews a panel of guests on the rise, and eventual domination, of geek culture. Participants include New York Times Best Selling Author Alan Kistler, Legion of Leia’s Jenna Busch, and The Project Workbench’s Matt Munson.
    Date and time:
    Sunday, November 1, 2015 – 10:00am
    Panel Length:
    50 Minutes
    Room:
    501A
  • Youth Can Draw, Too!: Chibi Heroes
    When it comes to art, age doesn’t matter. Anyone can be an artist! Children can come learn and to draw a SUPER HERO in an anime style at this safe and family friendly environment. Prizes are provided by Cosplay & Fan Gear, LLC.
    Date and time:
    Sunday, November 1, 2015 – 11:00am
    Panel Length:
    50 Minutes
    Room:
    503
  • Versus! Who’d Win Battles Between Your Favorite Characters
    Presented like a court of law, writer Hannibal Tabu (The Buy Pile review column at Comic Book Resources, 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt winner, Aspen Comics’ Fathom Sourcebook & Soulfire Sourcebook) presides over a rousing discussion of which pop culture character could take down the other. An actual trial lawyer (James Thompson Esq.) faces off against comedian and podcast host Vito Lapiccola (Comics on Comics), complete with objections, closing statements and sound effects punctuating every point. Fans can participate via Twitter with a hash tag selected just for the event and it’s guaranteed to be a fascinating time!
    Date and time:
    Sunday, November 1, 2015 – 11:30am
    Panel Length:
    50 Minutes
    Room:
    506
  • Iron Author
    Like Iron Chef except with writers. Each person includes subject and a ‘secret ingredient.’ The audience judges the winner.
    Date and time:
    Sunday, November 1, 2015 – 12:00pm
    Panel Length:
    50 Minutes
    Room:
    502A
  • Star Trek’s Walter Koenig
    The star of the legendary original Star Trek discusses his career and his upcoming sci-fi projects.
    Date and time:
    Sunday, November 1, 2015 – 1:00pm
    Panel Length:
    25 Minutes
    Room:
    Hot Topic Main Stage
  • Prop Making National Championship
    Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo is proud to launch this exciting showcase of the best prop craftsman and artisans in the world today! Plenty of prizes, including the $1,000 grand prize, is up for the taking in two categories: the National Championship and the Fan’s Choice! To vote in the Fan’s Choice, stop by Booth #XXX all weekend long until 12pm Sunday, to look at the finalists and cast your vote. Prize sponsors: American University of Health Sciences, Vocademy and more.
    Date and time:
    Sunday, November 1, 2015 – 2:00pm
    Panel Length:
    50 Minutes
    Room:
    Hot Topic Main Stage
  • Comic Book Culture Then and Now: From the Youth’s Perspective
    Cal State Fullerton’s own Comic Talk with JKC comes to Comikaze to discuss their perspective on the growing culture of comic book related media. We will look at the evolution of comics going from a rising unknown medium to the vastly popular form of media we see today. The topics will include the first attempts to make superheros mainstream in the 1960’s and 70’s, followed by later attempts to reinvent heros in a new image in the 1980’s and 90’s, as well as the inconsistent reception of superhero films in the 2000’s, finishing off with the polished mainstream products we see today (well for the most part). Joining them will be special guests and friends of the show Daniel Quint and Marri Cleghorn.
    Date and time:
    Sunday, November 1, 2015 – 3:00pm
    Panel Length:
    50 Minutes
    Room:
    518

 

What will you be catching at Comikaze this weekend?