Stan Lee’s Comikaze brings sci-fi, fantasy, comics fans to L.A.

Oct. 30, 2013 | 11:52 a.m.

A cosplayer at Stan Lee's Comikaze in Sept. 2012. Many attendees of the homegrown pop culture convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center arrived in costume. (Noelene Clark / Los Angeles Times)

Cosplayers at Stan Lee's Comikaze in Sept. 2012. Many attendees of the homegrown pop culture convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center arrived in costume. (Noelene Clark / Los Angeles Times)

A cosplayer at Stan Lee's Comikaze in Sept. 2012. Many attendees of the homegrown pop culture convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center arrived in costume. (Noelene Clark / Los Angeles Times)

A cosplayer at Stan Lee's Comikaze in Sept. 2012. Many attendees of the homegrown pop culture convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center arrived in costume. (Noelene Clark / Los Angeles Times)

A cosplayer at Stan Lee's Comikaze in Sept. 2012. Many attendees of the homegrown pop culture convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center arrived in costume. (Noelene Clark / Los Angeles Times)

A cosplayer at Stan Lee's Comikaze in Sept. 2012. Many attendees of the homegrown pop culture convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center arrived in costume. (Noelene Clark / Los Angeles Times)

Cosplayers at Stan Lee's Comikaze in Sept. 2012. Many attendees of the homegrown pop culture convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center arrived in costume. (Noelene Clark / Los Angeles Times)

A cosplayer at Stan Lee's Comikaze in Sept. 2012. Many attendees of the homegrown pop culture convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center arrived in costume. (Noelene Clark / Los Angeles Times)

A cosplayer at Stan Lee's Comikaze in Sept. 2012. Many attendees of the homegrown pop culture convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center arrived in costume. (Noelene Clark / Los Angeles Times)

A cosplayer at Stan Lee's Comikaze in Sept. 2012. Many attendees of the homegrown pop culture convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center arrived in costume. (Noelene Clark / Los Angeles Times)

A cosplayer at Stan Lee's Comikaze in Sept. 2012. Many attendees of the homegrown pop culture convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center arrived in costume. (Noelene Clark / Los Angeles Times)

A cosplayer at Stan Lee's Comikaze in Sept. 2012. Many attendees of the homegrown pop culture convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center arrived in costume. (Noelene Clark / Los Angeles Times)

A cosplayer at Stan Lee's Comikaze in Sept. 2012. Many attendees of the homegrown pop culture convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center arrived in costume. (Noelene Clark / Los Angeles Times)

A cosplayer at Stan Lee's Comikaze in Sept. 2012. Many attendees of the homegrown pop culture convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center arrived in costume. (Noelene Clark / Los Angeles Times)

A cosplayer at Stan Lee's Comikaze in Sept. 2012. Many attendees of the homegrown pop culture convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center arrived in costume. (Noelene Clark / Los Angeles Times)

A cosplayer at Stan Lee's Comikaze in Sept. 2012. Many attendees of the homegrown pop culture convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center arrived in costume. (Noelene Clark / Los Angeles Times)

Cosplayers at Stan Lee's Comikaze in Sept. 2012. Many attendees of the homegrown pop culture convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center arrived in costume. (Noelene Clark / Los Angeles Times)

JP Roth, web comic creator, poses at Stan Lee's Comikaze in Sept. 2012. Many attendees of the homegrown pop culture convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center arrived in costume. (Noelene Clark / Los Angeles Times)

Cosplayers at Stan Lee's Comikaze in Sept. 2012. Many attendees of the homegrown pop culture convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center arrived in costume. (Noelene Clark / Los Angeles Times)

A cosplayer at Stan Lee's Comikaze in Sept. 2012. Many attendees of the homegrown pop culture convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center arrived in costume. (Noelene Clark / Los Angeles Times)

Tens of thousands of sci-fi, fantasy and comics enthusiasts, many in costume, are expected to take over the Los Angeles Convention Center this weekend for Stan Lee’s Comikaze.

The homegrown pop culture expo kicks off Friday, bringing a slate of panels, screenings, game tournaments, merchants and guest speakers from the genre entertainment world to downtown Los Angeles.

Comikaze, now in its third year, began as a passion project for Regina Carpinelli, currently chief executive of Comikaze Entertainment, and her siblings.

Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo logo“It’s been our family tradition for nearly 20 years — and I’m the only girl — that the one thing we all agree on is we all loved San Diego Comic-Con,” Carpinelli said. “A couple of years ago, when they had their online ticket process change, we couldn’t get tickets. We were terribly bummed…. We thought, ‘There needs to be a show that everyone can get into, that everyone can afford, that is totally awesome.’ We put our heart and soul into creating this geek smorgasbord.”

Last year, Carpinelli partnered with Marvel Comics icon Stan Lee’s Pow Entertainment, Cassandra Peterson (Elvira), and events company Advanstar Communications. The convention has grown, from 35,000 attendees the first year to 45,000 last year, with more expected to attend this weekend. In addition to Lee and Elvira, this year’s guests include horror icon Bruce Campbell, “Star Trek” alumnus LeVar Burton, comic book greats John Romita Jr. and Marc Silvestri, actress Tara Strong and others. Also, Lee is bringing his collection of Marvel movie props and memorabilia from films including “Iron Man,” “Captain America” and “Thor.”

The expo runs through Sunday. Adult tickets are $25 per day, or $60 for a three-day pass. Children 12 and younger can attend free with a paying adult.

Hero Complex chatted with Lee about Comikaze, convention culture and the recent resurgence of superheroes in pop culture.

HC: Why a comic convention in Los Angeles?

SL: Oh my, Los Angeles is the center of entertainment in the world, as far as I know. It’s all about the fans in Los Angeles. Remember, this is the entertainment capital of the world. It’s the perfect place to meld geek culture with exciting television and Hollywood moviemaking.

HC: What sets Comikaze apart from other conventions?

SL: I think it’s because we’re involved in not just comic books, but in every form of entertainment. It starts with comic books. That’s the glue that holds it all together. But we’re also involved with movies, with television, with music, with sports. We have guest stars, a lot of them are surprises, that we’re waiting until the convention opens — we wanna knock the attendees’ eyes out — but we have guests from every kind of entertainment.

Stan Lee (Barbara Davidson/Los Angeles Times)

Stan Lee (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)

HC: What do you envision for Comikaze’s future? Would you like to keep it a small, local affair, or would you like to see it grow to SDCC or NYCC proportions?

SL: I don’t think it has anything to do with what I like. I don’t think we’ll be able to stop it from growing. Because even now, we have sold so many tickets already and there are so many people coming aboard and so many people from the arts and from entertainment who want to be part of it…. There’s never been anything like this right in the heart of Los Angeles, and this is where it’s all happening.

HC: I understand you’re bringing your movie props collection to Comikaze. Why do you collect and share these things?

SL: It’s the largest collection, I think, of Marvel props ever assembled. How can you not if you have a chance to collect things like that? You can’t give ‘em away. You can’t throw ‘em away. I love sharing with people, and that’s why we have that, every year at our convention, and every year it’ll be bigger because I collect more things every year.

HC: Nearly every week, I hear about something else you’re involved in. You’re so busy, and you’ve done so much. How do you keep things fresh? How do you decide what you’re going to take on?

SL: It’s hard to say no to anything because all the things I’m a part of are such fun. Anything that has to do with entertaining the public, I love. It’s funny, when I was younger, I used to be embarrassed that I did what I did, because I thought, there are men building bridges and doing research and things that matter, and here I am trying to tell stories. But over the years, so many people have told me how much they’ve enjoyed those stories, and how much those stories mean to them, and I began to realize how important entertainment is to people. All those other things that are really so important to life, that’s fine, but when people are through doing what they do, they want to be entertained. So that’s what I decided to devote my life to doing. So I don’t feel like I’m working. I feel like I’m playing, really.

HC: What’s it been like to witness a resurgence in the popularity of comic books, especially characters that you helped create?

SL: Oh, it’s been unbelievable. Obviously it’s all caused by the movies, by the great success of the movies. They couldn’t have done movies like this a few decades ago. They didn’t have the special effects ability. And now, anything you can dream of, they can put on the screen no matter how fantastic. I have a theory about the whole thing, about why these superhero movies and superhero comics are so popular. When you were a kid, you probably read fairy tales and you probably enjoyed them. They were stories of princesses and knights and dragons and monsters and witches and so forth. Things that were bigger than life. But you get a little older and you’re too old to read fairy tales. But later, along come comic books, superhero comic books, and they’re like fairy tales for older people, where you can have the same excitement reading those things and seeing them on the screen that you had when you were a little child reading “Grimms’ Fairy Tales.”

HC: Do you ever get tired of all these conventions?

SL: No, not really. The enthusiasm of the convention goers is so exciting, it’s like nourishment. When you go there, and you realize that all these people are really involved and really care about  the things you’re doing, you can’t get tired. It’s like getting a tonic every time. And that’s why I love the Comikaze, because that is the only one that I have any sort of control over. So I can make this one work just the way I want it to.

— Noelene Clark | @NoeleneClark | Google+

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Comments


4 Responses to Stan Lee’s Comikaze brings sci-fi, fantasy, comics fans to L.A.

  1. Shootist2600 says:

    "When people are through doing what they do, they want to be entertained. So that’s what I decided to devote my life to doing." And thank goodness. Looking forward to this weekend. And BTW, Stan, you ARE building bridges — in pop culture, among fans, and to our childhood.

  2. @lootcrate says:

    This event is going to be epic, we are so happy to be part of it!

  3. Avo says:

    When is it over tonight

  4. Wish I could have gone. But the duties of a Family Caregiver never seem to be finished! Still plugging away on my own partnership project Inspired by BOTH Joe Kubert's and Kishimoto-Sans work. I'm writing and my Artist Bud is drawing!

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