A new comic book and pop culture convention is invading the LA area later this year- and it is about time! LA has gone without a major comics/sci-fi/fantasy/horror convention for far too long. This November, the wait will be over- welcome the COMIKAZE EXPO! Comikaze’s vision is to celebrate pop culture in a new way and reshape the comic convention experience. I was grateful to have a chance to interview Co-Founder/Director Regina Carpinelli at her art gallery in downtown LA.
Regina, what was the vision behind the creation of Comikaze Expo?
Growing up with brothers, I’ve always been a huge sci-fi, horror, and comic book nerd (she’s wearing a Black Lantern button). One of my favorite memories was going to my first Comic-Con at age 12 in San Diego. I LOVED it and we returned annually for many years. Now as an adult, I realized that the expense of going to a local comic book convention can be really difficult- especially in this economy. So we decided to create something more accessible. My brothers and I started with smaller comic book swap meets called ‘Collector Cons’. After a few successful events, we decided to take a step of faith into the convention world with Comikaze. Everyone is a little geeky inside. There will be something for everyone to connect with. You will love it. I also love LA and I want to invest in strengthening this community.
What will set it apart from other comic-cons?
Price was important to us. Our tickets are only $12 and kids under 12 are free. It’s the same price as a movie but with many more celebs! I want people (especially kids) to have as much money as possible in their pockets to buy collectibles and art. We are focusing on creating the best fan experience possible. Besides being extremely affordable, everyone will get a voucher for a free lithograph created by a professional artist. Being close to LA, there will be some great media panels about the industry with some unique guests. Art is very important to me. I want our attendees not only to be inspired but to connect with each other over pop culture art. The artists will be the focus on the showroom floor instead of being pushed to the back. I want them to have the maximum exposure at Comikaze. My desire is to over throw the status-quo of the convention experience. I think this will be something special.
What were the challenges of starting it in LA?
It’s hard because you are the new kid on the block so some are skeptical. However, because of our commitment and passion, we have been able to open many doors. After losing the SDCC bid, the LA Convention Center has been very eager and accommodating to our needs. We recently expanded the show to a 165,000 square foot room because of all the new vendors. We now have tons of companies that want to launch their video game, screen their movie, or release their new book at Comikaze- and we are elated!
What guests are you excited about having at Comikaze?
I am really excited about all our guest! However, being a a huge horror fan, I am super excited for Elvira to be joining us. Her people made it clear that she normally doesn’t do ‘first year’ conventions but she made an exception for Comikaze because she knows this will be big. Stan Lee was very awesome to work with. We shot a hilarious commercial with him (to be released soon) and he was amazing to work with. Top Cow and Top Shelf are going to be their. It will be the first appearance of creators of Cracked.com. What is very unique is that we have a whole community of tattoo artist (Project MDR) joining us. They are some of the most talented artists in LA- offering to do tattoos at Comikaze! Get a Comikaze Expo logo tattoo, we’ll pay for it AND you get a lifetime membership to the Expo!
Explain the Comikaze Expo name and logo with the octopus?
I wanted to pay respects to the San Diego show and NOT use the word ‘Comic-Con’. I know it’s a generic term but I still wanted to do something different. We thought the ‘LA invasion’ theme would resonate with fellow geeks. Personally, I love Octopus. I’ve had one as a pet before and wanted to use it in a future brand somehow. The related monster mythos really seems to fit the comic book convention world. We just wanted to be different and fresh.
What is your metric for success? How will you judge to do it again?
We plan on making Comikaze Expo an annual fall event. Our biggest desire is to help vendors and fans connect with each other in the pop culture community. So as long as we can do that, we will continue to put on the show. We are doing very well with our ticket sales so far so it will already be a big show. Ultimately, I want the fans to be happy. If they loved Comikaze, we will be back!