Los Angeles has long been known as a cultural hub, the paradigm for great weather, and a mecca for the film and TV industries. It’s the single most populous city in California and the second most in the United States. A major lodestone ofthe West Coast and the bellwether of culture, art, and entertainment, Los Angeles seems to have everything. But prior to 2011, it had yet to establish a major comic book convention. San Diego had its flagship ComicCon and New York had its own as well, but inexplicably, LA only had small, unknown events (all still great in their own right). Temecula native Regina Carpinelli and her two younger brothers noticed this bsence and decided to change all that. And in November 2011, the very first Comikaze Expo was launched.
Held in Kentia Hall at the Los Angeles Convention Center, the inaugural event was host to 35,000 attendees—humble compared to the 123,000 in 2019—and went off relatively without a hitch. Right away, guests could tell that this convention would have its own identity, reflecting the LA scene, with local artists, tattoo artists, and comic book dealers all converging to help make something special. It was a refreshing change of pace from the glossy coat of its competitors. The event was also imbued with a nostalgic vibe, hosting various retro cast reunions, which have become a mainstay over the years.
That identity has held true ever since. In 2012, Carpinelli partnered with Marvel legend Stan Lee and his company POW! Entertainment, as well as Elvira herself, Cassandra Peterson, and was rebranded as Stan Lee’s Comikaze. Although both icons were no strangers to fan conventions, they made Comikaze their home, setting the tone for what the annual event would really come to embody: comic books, horror, and nostalgia.
2012 would also include an appearance by Kevin Smith, where he recorded a live version of his podcast Fatman on Batman, featuring a guest appearance by the original Batman, Adam West. Smith would also become a mainstay almost every year from then on.