By Ivan Cazares and Francisco Portillo
Cosplayers posed for photos with each other and fans, competitive gamers fought for national championships and collectors filled the exhibit hall at the Los Angeles Convention Center Friday through Saturday.
Whether fans call it Stan Lee’s Comikaze or Los Angeles Comic Con, Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con is the longest running fan convention in LA that celebrates comic book culture, science fiction and gaming.
Lee, now 93, is the co-creator of Spider Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and other iconic comic book characters. This year, Stan Lee’s Comikaze changed its name to Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con after six years of history in the city to have closer ties to its hometown.
On September 27, the LA City Council officially named October 28 Stan Lee Day for his contributions to the entertainment industry.
A highlight for fans willing to wait in the long line got the opportunity to meet the comic book industry-legend and convention-founder. Lee also took to the main stage throughout the day to participate in panels and an impromptu interview with comedian and talk show host Chris Hardwick.
Other guest appearances included cast members from the original Power Rangers series, Netflix’s Luke Cage and notable writers and illustrators of the comic book industry.
“I’ve come across a lot of fans. It’s very flattering (to be complimented by fans),” said film director, character designer and animator Steven E. Gordon. Gordon is best known for his work on the hit animated television series X-Men Evolution.
Artist Alley, the area of the convention designated for art sales and book signings, was filled with artists like Mike Mayhew, who currently works on the Star Wars series for Marvel, Jimmy Palmiotti, the artist for the current Harley Quinn series, and illustrator Lord Mesa, whose art is popular on social media.
“I enjoy the interaction with the fans of my work. Seeing the smiles that my work brings to people’s faces is priceless,” Mesa said.
Mesa is most known for his kid-friendly illustrations of popular superhero TV characters like the “Flash” and “Arrow.” Having had his art shared by “Arrow” actor Stephen Amell, Mesa said he noticed more guests being drawn to his table.
Another featured guest was Derek Riggs, best known for creating the mascot used by the heavy metal band Iron Maiden. Riggs isn’t the typical artist found at comic book conventions. However, he was well received by fans.
“How did I get into a comic convention? It was an accident. I used to read everything (comic book related) when I was a kid,” Riggs said. He was offered a spare table at the convention by Heavy Metal Magazine to sign autographs. Riggs said he recently worked on a cover for Heavy Metal and is considering an offer to collaborate on a comic book with the magazine.
Among the hundreds of booths was Nerd Machine’s Nerd HQ, which was holding raffles, hosting celebrities and promoting Operation Smile, a nonprofit organization that raises money for children in developing nations in need of surgery to correct cleft lips and palates.
Nerd HQ supports the organization through a free-to-download app called “Donate a Photo.” App publisher Johnson and Johnson donates one dollar to select charities for every photo uploaded through the app.
“Over the course of a year, one person could raise $365 just by taking photos. I mean, how many photos do we upload to Twitter and Facebook anyways?” said Josh Monroe of Nerd HQ about the money-raising potential of the app.
There was no shortage of interesting things to see or buy. The exhibit hall was filled with artists selling their art and signing autographs for a fee. Vendors sold everything from video games, comic books, action figures and other collectables.
For information on the next Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con, visit stanleeslacomiccon.com