The Comikaze Expo is somewhat of a new player in the world of comic conventions, having just experienced its 4th year in the heart of Los Angeles, California. That’s mainly because it’s not technically a comic-con. Yes, in its 2nd year, it acquired the biggest name in comics – Stan Lee – as part of their full title, “Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo“, but they’ve made no bones about just what type of convention they are. They are a full-on pop culture convention, paying tribute to every corner of the movie, television, gaming, cosplay, literature, and comic book worlds. At a time when San Diego Comic-Con gets grief for not being comic-booky enough, it’s the convention with one of the fathers of Marvel Comics in its name that gets away with being the broadest and most inclusive pop culture convention in the Southern California area.
Once again, Stan “the Man” Lee himself and Cassandra Peterson (aka Elvira, Mistress of the Dark) were the headlining hosts of the Halloween weekend’s festivities, along with dozens of other celebrities from all corners of geekdom. Stars from Firefly, Doctor Who, HBO’s Game of Thrones, and even the classic Saturday morning television series, The Land of the Lost, took the stage or met with fans one on one in the autograph area throughout the weekend. But what sets Comikaze apart from most big conventions that draw around 60,000 people each year is how the main floor is laid out. You don’t have to line up in an endless queue around the back of the convention center just to get a seat for the biggest stars in the biggest panels. Comikaze drops their main stage right in the main exhibition hall. But do they surround that stage with the big comic publishers, movie studios, or the merch dealers from each big TV series? No. In the most heavily trafficked area outside of the booths sitting right inside the main doors, you’ll find the fan tables and artist alley, sections that often get pushed to the sides at some of the bigger conventions, often to make way for the big studio booths. From Star Wars to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to a number of the most talented cosplay groups in the country, you’ll find the homegrown fan clubs and skilled artists, both famous and infamous, getting the greatest visibility in the room.
Sure, there are some that have complained that cultures like cosplay are diluting the “true comic-con experience” for some, but with Comikaze, no one can really make that claim, because as I’ve said earlier, they never claimed to be simply a comic-con. Comikaze has embraced the cosplay world fully and without reservation. Beyond their Cosplay Ball held across the street on Saturday night at the Nokia center, you couldn’t walk 3 feet without bumping into an stunningly decked out cosplayer. Of course, the fact that it was Halloween weekend probably added more than a handful of amateur and seasonal costumed fans to the mix in the LA Convention Center’s massive South Hall lobby.
During our time at the show, we were lucky enough to catch a few glimpses of the stars, the art, the fans, and yes, lots and lots of cosplay. We wished we could have taken pictures of everyone we saw, but here’s a few dozen shots of our favorite moments and cosplayers at Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo 2014.
Images: Doug Kline