First off, I would like to apologize to anyone reading this. I didn’t anticipate that I would post a review of Comikaze 2015 until over a week after it was over but I had some distractions. After the convention, I went to the Hollywood Carnaval and on Sunday I had to catch up on some errands. Later that night I went to the Danny Elfman Nightmare Before Christmas concert at the Hollywood Bowl. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night I went to the gym. Thursday night I tutored three kids and Friday and Saturday I was out late and when I returned I was too exhausted to type up a coherent post. Because of this, I did not want to scribe about such a day with shoddy writing. To me, there is a big difference between writing at 6PM and at 9PM. Right now, it is 6:29PM. I have eaten dinner and I am still awake enough to write coherently without having fear that I will forget a detail.
Anyway, onto the review:
This was my first Comikaze. I have been to the San Diego Comic Con, Long Beach convention and Wondercon in Anaheim. My last convention this year was in Anaheim in April. I never felt the need to go to this one even though it was a freeway drive away from where I live: It was far more affordable on my wallet and my car to go here. I toyed with it until I found out that one of my favorite artists, Jim Lee would be making an appearance on Halloween (Saturday). I tried to get a badge for San Diego this year. He was one reason I wanted to go. I wanted him to sign a copy of my Hush trade. Sadly, I couldn’t secure a badge. However, that bit of news made up for it.
I also anticipated going to this convention for cosplay reasons. I don’t do this to be ‘cosfamous’. I wanted to update my costume and because the Carnaval was later that night, I felt that it was time for an update.
Starting in August, I made many trips to Joann Fabrics and Michael’s to get my materials. I asked my grandmother to make the costume and she obligated. She is a sweetheart. I took a class at Joann to try my hand at sewing. I need to get a machine.
I bought the lycria, pom poms, adhesive glue and material for the collar. I even gave my old boots a makeover. I painted over one shoe red by using Leather Studio. It wasn’t perfect but I figure that an offbeat character like Harley did not demand one hundred percent perfection.
All in all, in the end I was very pleased with my new updated Harley Quinn costume. I went as traditional Harley because that is where I feel most comfortable. I got a lot of thumbs up at work on Friday and all day and night Saturday. I tried making a rubber mask with material from this place in North Hollywood called Nigel’s. After two attempts, I decided it was best to just go with black and white face paint. By my second attempt at applying the latex rubber, I think I now know what to do if I want a more streamlined and neat eye mask.
So enough about the costume.
I get up at about 8:00 to eat before I apply the makeup. I leave at around 9:45 and I get there at around 10:30. Seeing the gentrification in Downtown LA was striking but not really surprising to me
. I remember going shopping here with my dad on Saturday afternoons in Santee Alley. There are still remnants from that era. The shoddy parking lots for one thing and yet walk over one or two blocks over and you will walk around buildings where the rent is three grand a month. I got out of my car in full costume and as I walked along Olympic Boulevard, I saw an organic coffee shop and only one block later there was a woman selling greasy bacon wrapped hot dogs from a cart.
Even before I go into the convention center, people stop me for pictures. I am already feeling the euphoria. I walk to the convention center and I see all these costumes. We are all here for the same goal: We are here to indulge in our fandoms. On my way in, I meet a young woman from Minnesota who has a background in comics. She was there as a professional. As we made small talk, we talked about cosplay and fandom. It turns out that she was one of those types who thinks that Comic Con has gotten too big because of all the mediums in allows at its shows. I have to agree with her.
I am not going to get into this ‘fake fan’ or ‘real fan’ debate because it is silly and a waste of time. I *DO* think that franchises like “Game of Thrones” and “The Walking Dead” are big enough to have their own conventions and because these franchises have such a huge following, it should not come as a surprise that fans of those shows buy up badges just to be a part of the panels. I personally think that ‘The Walking Dead’ having its own convention in Atlanta, Georgia would be massive and garner as many fans to the ATL just like DragonCon. However, I highly doubt that SDCC does not want to let that go because of the impact that nerds from whatever fandom bring economically to the city. This woman was the first of three people I met in one day who had such sentiments. We both agree that there was a difference between us “real” nerds who are passionate about a franchise/series because of the creators compared to fans of a series who are fans of the actors.
It is what it is. Everyone starts out as a casual fan and how one chooses to express that love is up to the individual. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way. Both camps analyze storylines, both camps create and share memes, and both camps are engaged via social media. However, I consider myself part of the camp who is fascinated by the behind the scenes aspects. I have treasured mementos from Grant Morrison, Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, Brian Azzarello, Chuck Dixon, Graham Nolan, Dawryn Cooke, and as of that convention Jim Lee. These are names that may or may not be on the radar of fans of franchises.
The first on my agenda is Jim Lee. The night before I am looking at the map. I get there and I walk along the convention floor. It is packed with cosplayers with elaborate costumes, heavy backpacks, and strollers.
You have to be patient.
I go by the Hot Topic stage and I look for the booth number. I don’t see anything. I walk all the way to the front and ask if this was the right hall. It turns out that it was. I go back to where I was and I see a line. It turns out that it was the one for the Jim Lee signing. I think ‘Sweet’ until I see that the line is big and it breaks up. It starts again along the wall. I walk a good 300 feet and stop at the end of the line right behind this gentleman and his daughter. We begin to make small talk. We found out that we had to get wristbands. We were extremely lucky to be where we were. He had been collecting for many years and was a big advocate of his daughter reading comics as a way to improve her grammar. I correctly guessed her age.
He had a large collection of X-Men comics. I brought my Hush trade. I used to have the ones that came in two volumes but I sold them. I got nostalgic and I got the single trade last year. I also have Absolute Hush. I didn’t bring that one on account of how heavy it is. I would say we got to meet Jim Lee around 30-40 minutes after we got in line. It wasn’t too bad. The line moved fast.
We passed the time discussing fandom. I told him about a post I saw on Chuck Dixon’s facebook page. Keep in mind that I am diametrically opposed to Dixon’s political leanings. He is leans to the right and I am liberal who thinks that birth control for women (and men) should not be stigmatized. I choose not to engage with him politically because I am on not facebook for that. Anywho, the post in question involved Dixon seeing a cosplayer dressed as ‘Bane’ and he yelled out the character’s name and the cosplayer ignored him. “That’s disrespectful.”
Our time comes up. He goes first. I am fidgeting about my book and what I should say. In the end I wing it. I speak in a ‘Harley’ voice and I give him compliments on the Joker drawings he had posted on his facebook page earlier that week. I tell him “Mr. J looks so hot” while trying not to laugh and break character. Jim smiled and said that I was in character. I was in heaven for a few moments. I got acknowledged by a comic book legend. The best (and scariest) part was that I got featured on his own facebook page. So if you go there and you see a post with Jim and the Harley cosplayer, that is yours truly. This is one of the few times I was ‘proud’ of my voice.
As an aside, I did notice something about the Joker posts: I noticed that in both samples, Joker has his mouth closed. A part of me thinks that this Joker will be different in that he won’t be as ‘dangerous’. His mouth his closed. His teeth are not bared. If he is going to work with Batman, he has to ‘behave’. However he does that, we will not find out until Batman Europa #1 hits the shelves.
After I met Jim Lee, it was time to browse the convention floor
Another highlight of my con experience was meeting a notable voice over artist and legend Jim Cummings. Ever since I was a little girl, I kept seeing his name in the credits. I remember feeling elated when I first saw what the voice of Bonkers looked like. I ran into him by accident.
. I walk into a booth that has all these very familiar cartoon characters from various Disney and Warner Brothers cartoons. I ask without looking at the booth owner how much each picture cost. I look up and he starts giving me the rundown and then my dumb ass makes the connection: Of course. I start squealing “It’s you!” I then go into character and tell him how he was such a huge part of my childhood. He voiced characters like Darkwing Duck, Winnie the Pooh, Bonkers, Pete and a young Kaa from ‘Jungle Cubs’. He was so sweet. He had various images of characters he had voiced laid out. I chose “Scar”. He sang part of “Be prepared” after Jeremy shot his vocal chords during a rehearsal. I met Jeremy himself in September 2012 for the premiere of “The Words”. The film also starred Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldhana. For a film with such massive star power, I was surprised and lucky enough to get something signed by Jeremy. So there you have it, I ‘met’ Scar. In case you are wondering, he did say ‘Be prepared’.
Like they say in the Spanish channels during soccer: GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!
After that, I took it easy along the convention floor. I got asked for pics and I obliged. I also took some selfies with myself (heh) and Deadpool. The most memorable was this little girl. I am walking in Artist Alley checking out the talent and then I feel something tap hard at the lower part of my spine. My immediate reaction is “What. The. Hell?” I turn around with this Death Glare on my face ready to say something about boundaries….only to find noting there. I do see something below. It was a little girl dressed as Harley. I immediately went from defense mode to one full of mush. She wanted a picture. She got two. I insisted on the second one.
She then asks me why I have so many badges on the shoulder strap of my messenger bag. I told her that they were things that I loved. Her dad pointed them out. I played with her by asking her to name some of the characters. She got Ariel but she didn’t recognize Simba. I felt old. Her father pointed out Ace Frehley. That made me feel better.
Comikaze was big on surprises, artists but don’t expect too many places selling trades. I did find a couple of things I was looking for. I even picked up a Batman chapter book to use for tutoring my kids. I picked up Knightfall Volume 1 and Harley Quinn: Vengeance Unlimited. I tried looking for Detective Comics Volume 1 (2011) but no luck. I also picked up this rad Harley book mark that feels like steel, a Harry Potter messenger bag, a Slytherin scarf and lots of memories. The few times I acted ‘in character’ people were appreciative. I messed with a Bane cosplayer by telling him that he sounded constipated in the movie. He was a good sport about it and gave me an ‘explanation’ with the perfect characterization. He called me ‘sister’. I walked away laughing. I gotta hand it to people who know how to be silly.
I didn’t take a picture with a “Joker” until The Hollywood Carnaval. Before I talk about that, I must pimp out an LA establishment should you ever visit: Pink’s Hot Dogs. There was a vague reference to them in the Harley comic. I tried the chili dog and fries. I came back the next day before the Danny Elfman concert and tried the Gianna De Laurentis dog. I recommend both but the Gianna de Laurentis dog is larger. I was not disappointed with my orders. Come to Pinks!
I would say that I got more pic requests here than at the convention largely because my costume as traditional Harley was very recognizable. I met so many ‘celebrities’. I rocked out with Slash (My favorite track is “Locomotive” from Use Your Illusion 2), I got spanked by Madonna and I became the newest member of KISS. There was over half a million people in West Hollywood. I saw so many amazing costumes and in general the people were very friendly save for a few drunk idiots. I went with my father and my stepmother and they were both impressed with how ‘popular’ I was. I was getting stopped constantly.
Some costume highlights:
- Fred and Barney
- Pinocchio and Gepetto
- Louis the 14th drag queens
- A man who used rubber latex to create a male appendage on his face
- The dentist who shot Cecil (That mother trucker!)
- An aborted baby
- “Erotica” era Madonna
- Ziggy Stardust. I was happy to meet him and he was happy to see me!
- Sailor Moon