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Friday, 7 June 2013

Stan Lee's Comikaze! - An interview with CEO Regina Carpinelli

I must admit that interviewing the CEO of the newest ( and possibly most exciting) pop culture convention in the United States came around purely by accident. I had contacted the Facebook page of Comikaze in the hope that they might help publicise this blog - however I was advised (very nicely & very politely) that they couldn't do that. I was informed though that if I could persuade the CEO of the company into an interview then things might happen…… and well, as it turned out, the said CEO (Regina Carpinelli) kindly gave in eventually to my pestering and agreed to answer some of this Geek's questions. 

Now I know what you're thinking - I live in Scotland so the chances of making over to the convention when it takes place later this year are pretty slim for me, so why my specific interest  in this event? 

Well, there are two reasons.  As I've explained before more than once or twice throughout this blog, that I was a nerd, a geek, whatever you want to call it, well before the nerds et al became the new cool. In fact, being a geek was seemingly a licence for some to give ones backside a good kicking. But even in those times of Geek-bashing, there were some shining lights out there for we few. There was a time when a certain Stan Lee and his creations were one of my most precious links to a universe where I could escape to whenever I wanted to - well at least whenever I could afford the latest Defenders Marvel comic etc. It sounds sad. It's not……. and it's definitely not sad that his universe is still a much valued place where I travel to. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it you nerd-bashers!

The Generalissimo himself 

So when I read last year that Stan himself had finally decided to involve himself with a convention that could eventually rival the legendary San Diego comic-con, well, this nerd was more than a little interested. I could, and at some point will, write more about the man himself and what his work has meant over the years, not just to me, but as a wider 'icon' in popular culture….However, that blog entry of at least a 1000 pages will have to wait for a while…….

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark…… & just a bit gorgeous..

The second reason? Well her name is Elvira and I've been a little in love with her for more years than she would care to hear about. For those poor souls out there who may not be familiar with her loveliness - I ask you just what planet do you come from? Because, boy have you missed out. Elvira,  Mistress of the dark is an internationally famous horror movie actress, hostess, comic book character and overall cult Geek icon……I think that just about sums it up…. well apart from the fact that she is a bit gorgeous.

She, or rather her alter-ego Cassandra Peterson, in partnership with Stan Lee, also in 2012 became involved in the expo. I ask you, what the heck is there not to like?!

Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo is a two day event held during the Autumn period that started in 2011. The expo embraces a variety of genres, including science fiction, anime, comics (Marvel, of course), fantasy and horror. It was founded by Regina Carpinelli and her two younger brothers and had an initially successful first year in Los Angeles. 

In 2012  Regina announced the legendary Stan Lee, together with Cassandra Peterson (the wonderful Elvira) would form a partnership with Comikaze Expo, therefore completely rebranding the convention. 

As this week's press release states….'This year’s expo will be held on November 1-3 at the Los Angeles Convention Centre in Los Angeles, California.  Now in its third year, the organisers of the largest regional multi-media, pop culture, comic, horror and gaming convention invite visitors to unleash their inner geek as they unveil the first wave of guests and activities that promise to delight entertainment fans of all ages'……. I personally have no doubts that its going to be bloody amazing!

So here is the interview with Regina Carpinelli. I'm sure that you'll agree that her passion for her cause, as well as her drive and humour come out perfectly, even in this written form!


(FD) Comikaze has only been around since 2011, and yet it feels like it’s been part of the convention landscape forever. Why do you think that is?

(RC) We are young, but we are mighty! I really think that it’s our whole approach on creating the show and interacting with the fans. We are a business, but we are also fans ourselves. The entire attitude around Comikaze is being a community event that deeply cares for its community.  We have this Punk DIY vibe. My entire team is under 35, and we just get it.

(FD) How did you deal at first with comparisons to the world famous San Diego comic-con? Was it like being the 'new kid on the block'?

(RC) It really wasn’t something I dealt with. We are similar to what SDCC was like 10 years ago, but we are also totally different from any other convention. In all honesty you cannot really compare us to anything. We are a totally interactive media experience unlike any other show. We create content and fun specifically for our fans. And being new is always hard, especially in the Geek world. People are always judging you, but I think its pretty clear that we are a great show that benefits fans, exhibitors, and everyone involved. :-)

Cassandra, the man himself and Regina
(FD) What makes Comikaze different from any other convention and why should we Europeans come over to yours rather than any other? 
(RC) Well for one, since Stan Lee and Elvira are both owners, they do things at Comikaze that can never be seen anywhere else. But we really hit on nostalgia in an interesting way. We stack and mix pop culture so much that it’s GEEK-CEPTION! 

(FD) You must get a little tired of being asked what it's like to work with Stan Lee, so I won't ask! Well actually I will...What is he like?

(RC) I never get tired of that. I have to always remember that I am not dreaming and that I get to work with Stan Lee and travel with him. People say to never meet your heroes, and for the most part I agree unless that hero is Stan Lee. He is such a brilliant and kind man. I have learned so much from him. He loves his fans, he works hard, and he is a genius. I learn so much from him. Because of him I wake up everyday and give my all in everything I do. It is an honor to be able to learn and work with such a legend!

Stan and Cassandra eyeball each other while Regina sinks in quicksand..

(FD) As for Cassandra Peterson (Elvira), well I've been a little in love with her for quite a few years. So please tell me she's a terrible person so I can leave it behind me! :-)

(RC) She is terribly amazing. Cassandra has become like an aunt to me. She is a smart, hilarious, and beautiful woman. She and I have a blast. We have tons of inside jokes, and like Stan, I have learned a ton from her. She is a great role model. She is also an amazing business woman. Total package. Everyone should fall in love with her!

(FD) Lets just pretend for a moment that Stan Lee isn't involved. So...........Marvel or DC for you? Be honest! ;-)
Some blogging fool with Regina's hero …kind of.

(RC) Honest?  Well, Stan or not, I never lie about my opinion. I love them both, but I love Batman. I wanted to grow up to be Batman, but I also wanted to grow up to be Galactus. But I do read more Marvel, with the exception of Batman. :-)

(FD) I know from what I've read about you that you're a full on geek!  So what to you know of British sci-fi and horror? :-)

(RC) Aside from Doctor Who? Absolutely Fabulous is one of the most amazing British Sci-Fi horror shows to ever be made; I quote it daily! I love French and Saunders. Creep and F. are amazing horror films. I love Hitchhikers Guide, and I also love the Young Ones. But then again, I am a punk rocker at heart, and I just decided like AB Fab that it can fall in this category, “Sweetie Darling!”

(FD) Talking about being a nerd or geek. Like you I was a full-on nerd growing up, but for me, back in the 70s & 80s, it wasn't always a pleasant experience. Why do you think Nerds are the new cool?

(RC) I think that all of us kids who grew up in the 70s and 80s on such great cartoons and movies grew to appreciate geek culture, and as we grew, we knew what we liked, and we recreated or tried to recreate those classic moments in film and media today. It’s amazing for me that as a child I watched Ninja Turtles and now its back again and bigger than ever. Honestly I think everyone is a geek. Everyone likes a super hero or a video game.  I don’t care who you are, we all got some geek in us!

(FD) I know that you're officially launching this month, so can you tell me what goodies are in store for the convention this year?

(RC) Ohhhhhh so so so many. Right now, Stan Winston’s Special FX Studio Legacy is putting on a HUGE museum of their most famous props. 

The event was a 'bit' popular last year...

They did Jurassic Park, Predator, Iron Man, Avatar and pretty much every major awesome FX movie that there ever there was. have a glorious cosplay contest with over $5000 in cash prizes. Also, Stan Lee will be bringing his personal collection of amazing art and props to form his own museum on the show floor! I have a ton of great guests that we are announcing, and we have news on new fun things every week.

(FD) I'm sure many of us who cant make it over to the States would love to see some of the main events. Is any of it filmed?

(RC) Actually, it is. We are working on live streaming and taping all our awesome content, but we’re also looking to grow internationally. The UK is at the top of our list, so keep those fingers crossed!

Well I'm going to look forward to the live streaming and whatever and however the UK involved with that!…

Tickets for the event are now on sale folks! The accompanying press release for the event that Regina sent me can be found on my FB page for this blog HERE

I would sincerely like to thank Regina for her time in corresponding with me over what I know has been a busy last few weeks for her and would like to wish her and the rest of the team a very successful 2013 expo!

Now all I need is an interview, or preferably a meeting with, Stan and Cassandra…...

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