Comikaze 2012

But first a cosplay photo.

And then: California Browncoats; Valkyrie Komics; Tyranical Piratical Treasures; Monkey Minion Press; Gary Montalbano; Geek Chic; Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab; Carolyn Tom; Barbara Dillion; John L. Brooks, II; Steven Malone; David Depasquale.

My first visit to Comikaze 2012 (wwwcomikazeexpo.com) got off to a really bad non-start on Saturday. Saturday was a very hot day, so I thought to myself, let’s spend the hottest part at the air conditioned Los Angeles Convention Center. Unfortunately when I got there at 1PM, there was no parking for less than $25 at LA LIVE. After driving around the building for 40 minutes and being unable to get into the overflow parking, I simply went home. I learned on Sunday that somehow the Emmys telecast was to blame. I think the big lesson here is just get to Comikaze by 9:30 or 10AM to park and get in line to get inside. It was 102F and the line looked horribly long and much of it was in the sun. I rather think some enterprising types could make a fortune overcharging for water and snacks outside these kinds of events. Well, anyway.

I’m very glad I dragged myself down to the convention on Sunday, early on Sunday, because there was some confusion at the Press check-in. They didn’t have my name on the list (I don’t think they had a list at all), but I brought my email confirmation, so I finally got my press pass. So off I went and spent five hours in the exhibit hall talking to fascinating artists and craftpeople and taking pictures of cosplayers whenever and wherever. Here are the exhibitors I talked to:

California Browncoats (www.californiabrowncoats.org), I spent a few minutes talking to the good people at California Browncoats who raise money for many worthy causes through promoting the fandoms of Firefly & Serenity.


Valkyrie Komics (www.ValkyrieKomics.com), Joshua Lee, also from the Las Vegas group called the Artists Comic Collective, at Comikaze to show and hopefully break into the industry. They recently released their first comic: THE DIRGE OF VIQDIS, and their first show as exhibitor. Joshua was writing a book and his co-worker at a GameStop, Cillian Cubstead (who is the artist on the comic) asked him if he wanted to write a comic and so they did. Joshua has been writing comics for about 2 years. He said his comic is darker than usual because he heard the assertion that Ghost Rider was the darkest comic ever written and Joshua decided to beat that with his comic. He’s working on part 2 of his comic: THE DIRGE OF VIQDIS and publishing it through Comix Well Spring (www.comixwellspring.com) and looking forward to being in the industry and showing the world some very cool stuff in the future.


Tyranical Piratical Treasures (www.tyrannical-piratical-treasures.com), Cheryl (with a hard ch sound [it’s Celtic]) started out making pirate jewelry and then discovered Steam Punk and fell in love with the look. She designs and assembles each piece of jewelry she sells She originally trained as a nurse, but after she finished being a nurse she went full steam ahead into this line of art. She’s been at it since 2001 and loves doing conventions, and now that she’s doing comic book conventions, she loves them. Her usual conventions are steampunk conventions and anime conventions, but she’s going to do more comic book conventions. Her friend at Damsel in This Dress recommended Comikaze and Cheryl was wearing one of her corsets and looked great in it.


Monkey Minion Press (www.monkeyminionpress.com), Dane and his wife run the press. They make things that make them happy and hope they will make other people happy as well. They make geek art propaganda posters, notecards, pins, etc. in a social realism and/or Russian Constructivist style. Kind of a Geek Constructivist style. They have been running the press for six years and decided to show at Comikaze this year when they were commissioned to make the poster (below, sorry to the bad photo) for the show. Dane does all the art work for Monkey Minion Press. He goes for the heroic, heart string-tugging provocative style for his products. He graduated with a graphic design degree from Missouri Western State University and then he and his wife headed west and now live in Portland, Oregon. Their next show is Jet City Comic Show in Seattle and then Portland Retro Gaming Expo and that’s it for 2012 unless something unexpected comes up.


Gary Montalbano (www.GaryMontalbano.com), of Sarka Navon Design and Montalbano Illustration, and I am very much remiss in not getting a photo of Gary, who is very handsome, by the way, but I can’t prove it here, so you’ll just have to settle for two of his images. Gary has worked in animation for over 25 years, he’s currently working on Tom and Jerry for Warner Brothers, but the beautiful work he had on show at Comikaze were many years of his personal artwork. He collected it in a beautiful hardcover and paperback versions art book that I could have looked at for hours, but I was in the middle of Comikaze and had to get back to work. Gary and his wife were in the process of putting the book together while they were in the middle of a move and they unearthed about 8,000 pieces of art. He narrowed that down to 600 and then narrowed it further to 450. Gary had offers from publishers for the book, but decided to self-publish it so he could get it exactly the way he wanted it, which is an absolutely wonderful book. Gary came to Los Angeles from Chicago and did one semester at Art Center in Pasadena and had to stop due to lack of funds. However, his portfolio was so strong, he was able to be recommended for and get a job and succeed as a conceptual designer at Marvel Productions in 1986 and he’s been in the insdustry ever since doing storyboards, backgrounds, character design, you name it-he does it. This is Gary’s first Comikaze as an exhibitor, but he was a guest at the first Comikaze last year.


Dash (www.geekchichq.com), Geek Chic gaming furniture and storage for the discriminating gamer geek. (This is also furniture for middle aged fangirls who love well-made cabinetry with lots of little drawers and cute design features as you can see below by how many photos I took of it.) Geek Chic has been in business for about four years to build furniture to enhance gamers’ lives so when they invite the other gamers over, they can hold their heads up and hand out coasters. Each piece is individually manufactured in Seattle, Washington. Each table takes four to five craftsmen. To make the tables they might use black walnut, with maple inlays and accents, or American cherry and hard rock sugar maple. Most of the frames are sugar maple because it’s the most dense and durable. These tables are designed to be heirloom quality, withstand the test of time (and gaming) and be passed down from generation to generation because even gamer fanboys have families and now they have family heirlooms they can be proud of, too. Dash has been with the company for two years when the company had 15 people and now it has 35. Dash drives the truck that brings the display models to convention and he, or someone in the company, personally delivers and assemble on site each piece they sell, which is outstanding customer service. Their biggest show is Gen Con in Indianapolis and Pax. Their average table price is $3,000, but the larger table, with the Greene and Greene table leg detail, is $15,000. Geek Chic also takes commissions for drafting table and other kinds of wooden furniture, but they are already designing next year’s line of gaming tables. Upcoming is New York Comic Con in the second week of October and then they’ll be at BGG in Texas and then they’re done until Emerald City Comic Con in their hometown of Seattle.


Beth Barrial (www.blackphoenixalchemylab.com) founder, owner, and genius perfume blender of one of the coolest perfume shops in the universe, Black Phoenix Alchemy Laboratory. I was very surprised to see them at Comikaze, I would have been less surprised to see Jesus, but I was delighted to meet my idol (even though I didn’t know who blended my favorite BPAL scent) and had a total fangirl episode before my sober journalistic sensibilities kicked back in. BPAL started business in 2002, but Beth had been doing fragrances since 1993. When Beth was seven or eight years old she and some other children fibbed to their parents about whose house they’d be at after dark and they ran off to play tag in a green grassy hilly area in front of a business park until way way past their bedtimes. Several years later, when she was around thirteen years old, some scent passed through the air and she was instantly viscerally transported back to that night of fun and freedom she’s had when she was seven. I’m sure Marcel Proust would have known exactly how she felt. She instantly and powerfully felt the freedom, the joy, no loss, no grief, no worries, there was nothing hard about her in that moment — she was completely in the moment of pure being that children have when they play with the kind of abandon children are capable of. And that was the beginning of a beautiful career for Beth and wonderful scents for all of us. BPAL has been making a co-branding line of scents for a few years now. They have a co-brand with Disney on Paranorman and have been working with Neil Gaiman on a Coraline line of scents, Labyrinth, a Jim Henson line, and with the makers of Fraggle Rock as well. All the proceeds from everything they do with Neil Gaiman’s titles go to to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which is a very worthy cause indeed. Like all great perfumers, Beth makes scents that evoke a mood or feeling from the wearer and from anyone who smells it on the wearer. In the same way a dress or hat would have a visual impact, Beth designs for an olfactory impact and generally hits it out of the park. (A few years ago, J LHLS reviewed a number of her scents here, here, here, here, here, and here.) Beth herself usually wears Snake Oil, which is a warm lovely scent, and one of the first ones she designed. Marcel Proust would dig that, too.


Carolyn Tom (www.dudes-in-suits.tumblr.com), made her first comic for Comikaze. Her father read her Archie comics instead of fairy tales as a child. She’s studying art and design, focusing on illustration at Otis Art Institute. She’d like to focus on comics when she graduates in two years. She feels most comfortable making comics because they give her the most expressive freedom and those are the kind of comics she wants to draw, and that she’s drawn to. She feels that stories are what make us human and remind us what we have to work on in this life, so for her comics are the best combination of those.


Barbara Dillion (www.fanboycomics.net), Fanboy Comics has been around for about 3 years as an opportunity for indy publishers to create a community of geek fans. They’ve published 2 comics so far: Something Animal, which came out 2011, which is their take on the vampire genre (their vampires do not sparkle) and their vampires are really scary and vampirism is more like a terminal disease than a blessing. Their second book premiers on September 25 of this year, it is Identity Thief, their creature feature, monster in the closet story. Barbara is originally from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania but came to the West Coast to work in the entertainment industry in production and talent management. She saw a lot of talented creators around her that were not being given the chance to promote their work and get their voice out there. Their first two comics, Something Animal and Identity Thief, were written by their in-house team and the art was contacted out, so they retained the rights. They will be publishing and promoting another comic by an outside creator who will retain all their rights. That comic is called The Arcs (www.fanboycomics.net/publishing/the-arcs/1171-the-arcs), written by Michael Poisson, drawn by Matt Jacobs and lettering by Oceano Ransford. Fanboy Comics also runs The Fanboy Scoop, an online newsletter with the scoop and reviews, interviews, and a podcast of all the pop culture worth knowing about. Fanboy Comics does ten conventions a year. This is their first year exhibiting at Comikaze, they were covering the show as press last year.


John L. Brooks, II (www.11thhourbooks.net), 11th Hour Books. I spoke to John at San Diego Comic Con in 2011 and he’s still publishing a line of children’s books designed to raise children’s’ environmental and endangered species awareness. He’s making a comic book on environmental issues that will be ready for conventions next year. Since the last time we spoke, John ran for the U.S. Congress in District 51 in San Diego. He came in fourth out of a field of seven last March, running as a Democrat. His platform was on sustainable energy and environmental issues and he would be great in D.C. so maybe in the future. He’s also finished his first novel, an action adventure spy novel about a terrorist cell that tries to use an oil tanker to create an environmental disaster and the people trying to stop them, which I think is a great plot for any book. So there’s also a book we can look forward to.


Steven Malone (www.poeticearthjournals.com), Poetic Earth Journals and Bags. Steven began making these gorgeous bags and journals because he was a Civil War re-enactor for many years and he couldn’t find leather goods that would go with his costumes, so he started making them as a hobby. And he’s been at it for twenty-two years now. He uses a tanning technique where he rolls the hides up in salt brine and then buried underground for about two months. This process allows the hides to retains a large percentage of their natural fats and oils, which makes them waterproof, and give them a beautiful one of a kind finish which never needs to be polished or moisturized or nothing. The bags are extremely well made. I know this because I now own one.


David Depasquale (www.davedepasquale.blogspot.com) makes the cutest graphics of animals I’ve ever seen. His business card is a Russian bear having tea and I will treasure it forever. David tries to have as much variety in his work while being consistent to who he is. He loves animals and he loves doing character work, so he is inspired to make cute animals with human characteristics. He also makes art with human figures, but has more fun with animal figures because animals do have personalities. David graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC two years ago and since then he’s done independent animated films and illustrations for Disney publishing and would like to do more of both of those and more. He’s currently based in NYC, but will be moving out here as soon as possible because the work he wants to do is here. His next convention will be at the CTN convention in Burbank. (Several people I spoke to at Comikaze and elsewhere will be exhibiting at CTN Animation Expo, so as a public service I will tell you that it’s going to held on November 16-18 at the Burbank Marriott Hotel, 2500 Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA 91505-1019, (818) 843-6000 and the website is www.ctnanimationexpo.com, which will hopefully work better for you than me because I got all this from the cached copy. I didn’t see anything about and admission fee or attendee registration, so it might be free, but I might be wrong about that, so please double check.)

I was very happy at Comikaze. It feels like San Diego Comic Con used to feel, so I hope they let me cover the convention next year, too. I promise I’ll come early so I can park in peace.

And now, more cosplay and more photos of the event.

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