Comikaze 2015 or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Con

To think that Stan Lee’s Comikaze has been right next door to me, and how this year, I was lucky enough to attend Los Angeles’ own ComicCon-eqsue convention. However, I had many of my own highlights during Comikaze, separate from the rest of the staff here at My Geek Review. So join me in nearly a month or so afterwards reflecting on how my first convention experience went.

Day 1

The first panel I got to attend was “Story Worlds: The Alchemy of Franchise Creation” hosted by Nunzio DeFilippis, Adam Finer, and Christina Weir. They offered advice for up and coming writers and world builders how to not only create compelling worlds, but also how to market it to publishers and executives. They also talked about the importance of the fandom and fanfictions when it comes to famous franchises.

After some impulse buying Funko-POP figures, I found the next panel on my list: “Fantasy Worlds: Creating Awesome Fairly Tale Characters,” featuring writers Rebecca Moesta, Jody Lynn Nye, and Francesca Lia Blockand, with moderation by Neo Edmund. Much of the panel focused on the recent trend of making compelling female characters, and the many pitfalls that come along with creating female characters.

It was refreshing to hear the women of the panel telling many amateur storytellers to not focus on gender or race; instead emphasize the character’s personality than their physical attributes. They also delved into archetypes in storytelling and how important they are and the fun it can be to deviate from the form, alongside how protagonists and antagonists evolved since the time of Gilgamesh.

Nye ended the panel mentioning that it’s not a bad idea to have a villain who may be homosexual or of a different race. As she put it, “If you want true equality, sometimes you gotta be the villain.” It really depends on who you’re writing for.

Though it bore Stan Lee’s name, I barely got to see the Generalissimo himself; only a glimpse or two at the Hot Topic Main Stage.

Wrapping up visiting cosplayers and buying more merch, the last panel for day one was a sort of “meta-panel” – “Early Fandoms and Conventions,” hosted by John and Bjo Trimble, a couple who used to run several fan conventions since the 1950’s. Bjo took center stage, rattling off all the famous people she met during her time as a convention organizer and how many of her friends came from conventions.

However, they did end the panel reminding the audience that nowadays it’s difficult to make conventions due to larger conventions having bigger pulls, and the financial strain it can put on the organizers. Yet they won’t ever die, as modern fandoms have existed as early as 1939.
Truly, a wonderous and enlightening way to hit off the first day of Comikaze 2015.

Day 2

At the start of  Day Two I went to a panel hosted by Chocolate Covered Cosplay (C3) called “C3 Discusses Diversity in the Geek Community,” emphasizing their experiences in the cosplay world. A very delightful panel, they covered how much of the cosplayers on the panel came to love their fandoms and how their race and gender acted as barriers to be part of the “in-group.”

Up next was the Bojack Horseman panel, featuring creators Lisa Hanawalt and Raphael Bob-Waksberg, moderated by Adam Conover. They gave the audience a free poster and head modeled after Bojack. Much of the panel was about how the show came to be, and behind-the-scenes of how they made certain sequences of certain episodes. Much like Bojack himself, the panel was hilarious and gave insight on the use of tragedy to make comedy.

Much of the day was spent wandering around with friends and enjoying Halloween with cosplayers left and right. An appropriate way to end Day Two of Comikaze.

Day 3

In the wee hours of the final day of Comikaze, I went to attend “The Evolution of Geek Culture” featuring Alan Kistler, Jenna Busch, Matt Munson, Allison Raskin, and Gaby Dunn, moderated by Dr. Billy San Juan.

Much of the panel dealt with the classic “what does it mean to be a Geek?” question, and showed the evolution and dichotomy of being a “nerd” or “geek.”

Kistler, Busch, and Dunn took rein of much of the panel, dealing with how women in Geek culture were less welcome decades ago than now.

The only real negative was how often GamerGate was mentioned by Jenna Busch, but it made sense in context, as she was referring to harassment women face in the Geek world. It felt shoehorned in the mentions of online harassment, which felt out of place most of the time.
When the panel ended, I ended up having a chat with Dr. San Juan about Magic: the Gathering, which was refreshing after dealing with such a passionate panel.

With that conversation ending too early for my tastes, I headed off to my next panel: “Delicious Villains: Making Evil Look Good.”

The panel started off with much of them arguing who was the best villain in pop culture, which descended into the deconstruction of villains in general. Much of the panel was spent voting off other characters and what makes a villain such as Darth Vader or the Joker compelling and recognizable in modern media.

The final highlight of Comikaze was not seeing Vampy Bit Me of cosplay fame for the third and last time, but rather an impromptu screening of Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room.”

It began as much as you’d think: a very confused looking Tommy Wiseau shoving people his microphone to eager moviegoers in order to ask questions to him. After that madness was all said and done, I saw what I can honestly say was the best, worst movie I’ve ever seen. It had been such a time since I had a great time watching a movie with friends.

All in all, watching a horrible movie made the final day of Comikaze a nice bang instead of a whimper.

Final Thoughts? While many have come and gone to cons, this was the very first convention I went to as both a writer, and a fan. I saw devoted fans dress up as their favorite heroes and villains! I met many old friends and made new ones.

Maybe next time I may consider cosplaying as well, and join the hundreds of people who dressed up as their favorite characters.

I’ll be sure to take more photos and attend more panels next time around!

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