This weekend the LA Convention Center was ground zero for local nerds of all stripes, horror fans, and zombie aficionados. The Center played host to Stan Lee’s Comikaze – a playground of comic books, art, cosplay, gaming, memorabilia, and toys – now in its second year.
In addition to retail and autograph booths, Comikaze hosted a number of celebrities from the world of horror and pop culture (Stan, of course, as well as fellow convention investor Elvira; Linda Blair, Kevin Smith, Thomas Jane, Norman Reedus from The Walking Dead, Adam West, and more), as well as panels withFelicia Day and the cast of “The Guild” and Kevin Smith’s “Fatman on Batman.”
And, oh yes: a Quidditch tournament.
While we were there, the main stage hosted a conversation between Cassandra Peterson (aka Elvira, Mistress of the Dark) and comic writer R.H. Stavis. Cassandra, in her street clothes, had a frank and funny discussion about merchandising, movies, and comic books…and announced her new comic project, written with R.H.
Hearing Cassandra talk about protecting the Elvira brand made the trip to Elvira’s Macabre Museum, a sampling of Elvira-branded merch from beer to decorative plates, far more entertaining. Elvira’s Macabre Mobile, famous red velvet couch, and other props were also there, but that area of the “museum” was off limits at the time of our visit.
One of Comikaze’s most-hyped components was the Comikaze Zombie Apocalypse, a 75,000-sq ft survival course infested with zombies (and you couldn’t walk ten paces in the Con without seeing one of its off-duty ghoulish inhabitants browsing the wares, catching a panel, or strolling around with food). The survival course itself was surrounded by a chain link fence and hidden partly from view, but it seemed a little quiet and underwhelming to the fellow looky-loos we chatted with. The coolest element in our book was the staging area for zombies and other course actors tucked off to the side: any convention-goers could volunteer to be zombified by make-up artists and terrorize people inside the course! Zombie newbies get schooled by the “professional” zombies on how to behave, and there was a giddy camaraderie as volunteers got ready to terrorize.
Overall, it will be interesting to see this convention grow over the next few years. It addresses a massive audience need in LA/Southern CA for a reasonable price, and some of the logistical issues (such as Saturday’s nightmarishly long lines) will surely even out with experience.