There’s been a lot of buzz in the nerd community about Los Angeles’ newest and most kick-ass comic book convention, Comikaze Expo. The woman behind the legend is Regina Carpinelli, a real life Wonder Woman and she has been working non-stop (seriously… non-stop) to make this convention mind-blowing-ly awesome.
I started talking to Regina by chance when they contacted Defective Geeks because they picked up one of our cards from Fortune Cookie’s artist alley table at Anime Expo. Right away she embraced our team and our blog like we were old pals and we met her in person at San Diego Comic Con this year. She has kept us involved with Comikaze ever since and we love her for it. Can I just gush for a moment and say what a funny and energetic lady geek she is?
Comikaze Expo is going to have an epic first year and we think you better be there with us. You bet Team Defective Geeks will be representing. For now, get to know Regina a little better and read our interview with her.
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How did you come up with the name of the convention? What’s the story behind the octopus logo? Do you wish you could have a real, giant octopus as a mascot during the convention?
CARPINELLI: We chose the name “Comikaze” for a few reasons. We feel that there is only ONE “Comic-Con” and it lives in San Diego. A lot of other shows use the name Comic-Con to ride the coattails of San Diego’s success, but they are in no way affiliated. We have a lot of respect for SDCC, but we wanted to create something unique; we are our own brand. The name Comikaze makes perfect sense, since we planned on doing a full on LA Invasion. We pretty much “Kamikaze’d” the geek world – we just came out of the blue!
When we were choosing the logo, I was set on making it an Octopus. They are one of the most intelligent, yet mysterious creatures out there, and have a mythological feel to them but they’re REAL! We are really big in to the Cthulhu mythos, as well. It seemed like the perfect fit. I spent a long time on the design of the octopus; in fact, it was almost an octopus wrapped around the US BANK building, but it was too busy for a logo. Now, here is the cool part: I LOVE Batman, like Micheal Uslan move over, I love Batman WAY MORE! One of my comfort “go-to” movies is the 1966 Batman: The Movie with Adam West and Mickey from ROCKY as the Penguin! “You’re a BUM, BATMAN!!” All the villains in this movie do a Voltron thing and team up: Joker, Riddler, Catwoman, and Penguin. They form the most awesome club called “The United Underworld.” I have been watching that movie pretty much once a month since I was seven. (My mom buys me a new copy every year.) However, after 21 years of watching this film, I notice The United Underworld has a logo: an OCTOPUS holding the world and it says, “TODAY GOTHAM CITY. TOMORROW THE WORLD.” At that moment, I called my graphic designer and I had her do a play-on logo with the Octopus on top of the world. So, yes, the 1966 Batman movie inspired our super popular logo, and now hundreds of people are signing up to get it tattooed on them! How rad is that!? I think for next year, after our first invasion, we will have our tag be TODAY LOS ANGELES, TOMORROW THE WORLD!
And what do you mean WISH we had a real giant octopus? Maybe we are the followers of Cthulhu and Cthulhu will arise and feed off the flesh of nerds! (Just kidding.) I so wish I had a giant octopus.
How geeky and nerdy were you before you decided to start Comikaze Expo?
C: Are you kidding? I grew up on Japanese animation. UNICO, Belle and Sebastian, and then of course it moved to The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, She-ra, and X-men. I actually saved up all my money in 3rd grade to buy all the X-men cards – I had the whole set, then my little brother took them to show and tell and gave them ALL AWAY! WTF?! (Years later, I threw his Pokemon cards in a fire.) When I was a teenager, I was NUTS about Sailor Moon. I can totally play the theme on guitar and I collected everything I could find. I even watched it in Japanese so I could follow the storyline when DIC canceled it (WHAT DICKS).
My brothers and I grew up on a ranch in the middle of nowhere, better known as Temcula! We didn’t have neighbors; we used to watch movies and reenact them. Jumping off roofs, shooting each other with BB guns, making movies… you name it! I love pop culture and have always been proud of what I like. When I was a kid, I really thought I would grow up to be Spiderman or Zorro. Growing up with five brothers, I naturally had to watch and read what they read, and I just happen to like it. I also LOVE Magic the Gathering. I play at least once a week.
You seem to be kicking so much ass putting this event together. What’s your secret? Are you a superhero?!
C: I basically have the Green Lantern approach to life: I have a lot of will and I do not give in to fear. My parents always taught me to never quit and take on life with everything you got, and above all, work hard. I am just a girl from a small town who had an idea and ran with it. I literally started Comikaze not knowing ANYONE, but I knew I could do it. I never backed down and now we are one of the most talked about shows in the country. I did not have a lot of money when I created this show, but people believed in me and gave me a chance. I work my ass off to make my dream come true. Last year, I stepped down from my previous company and downsized my life to make Comikaze happen. Most people don’t sacrifice like my team and I have, but I always knew in the end it would pay off. Fear is what stops people from following their dreams and I have never been afraid of anything.
When people ask me who my heroes are, I always say my mother and father – they taught me how to be brave, to believe in myself, and to work hard, but to work to reach the stars. Also, Theodore Roosevelt. Teddy Roosevelt did not let anything stop him and neither do I! The man is a real hero. He kicked the crap out of asthma, and did a speech with a gunshot wound. I want to be a badass like him. Even when I fail at things, I still keep trying. In life, people will always try to bring you down, but ignore them… Because THERE IS NO TRY, ONLY DO!
If you were a superhero, what kind of extreme powers that you wished you had right now? Would you were spandex as your costume?
C: RIGHT NOW? The power to not need sleep or need to eat. Also the power to grow some more arms. I do a lot for Comikaze; I handle the social media, the programming, the closing of deals, sales, building our website, press, and a zillion other things. I am pretty good with two arms, but six more would ROCK! I actually had my e-mail SHUT DOWN because I sent to many e-mails one day. (I guess there is a 500 email limit.) My other business partner had the same thing happen to him. We formed the “500 Email Club.” It’s like having a Black Amex or being in the fortune 500. I don’t think you can be a CEO unless you have this happen to you.
As for spandex. It’s a privilege, not a right. I am not one of the privileged few who can rock that. I’ll stick with a cape though! I used to wear capes to school because I was badass and a total honey badger not caring what people thought.
I’m really curious… but how did the ‘All That’ reunion happen?
C: Legend has it if you stand in front of a bathroom mirror with the lights off and say LISA FOILES three times; Lisa Foiles will come to your comic book convention and throw and ALL THAT REUNION. Just kidding!
It’s actually a cute story. So, as you may know, we do a lot of work with CRACKED.COM. I have become pretty close with Dan O’Brien. Dan e-mailed me and told me about this girl who might be a good fit for Comikaze Expo, as she was a gaming host and also on a little TV show called All That on Nickelodeon years ago – and this girl was Lisa Foiles. I told Dan to have her contact me and in five min I get an email from Lisa. We do a phone meeting and at the time she was all “I am a video game host. Kotaku.com blah blah, loadsavepoint.com, and I wanna be at your show!” I told her that’s cool, and the gaming stuff is awesome, but I was more interested in All That! (It was my favorite show as a pre-teen.) I asked her if she was still in contact with her old castmates to do a reunion. She loved the idea and I honestly didn’t think anything of it. A DAY later. Lisa calls me and says, “Okay, I got six cast members confirmed.” I thought AWESOME but still didn’t think anything of it. That following Monday, I had nothing to post on Facebook so I just put, “WE ARE HAVING AN ALL THAT REUNION.” Within twenty minutes, my website crashed and I sold over 600 tickets – people went NUTS! Next thing you know, Kel Mitchell calls me and signs on. Then Lori Beth Denberg calls. Now we have pretty much the entire cast spanning ten years – It’s EPIC!
I love the All That, kids too. They are all so wonderful, sweet and fun. They all promote the show and are just great people. I am really proud to have them not only at my show but to also call them friends. I have become good pals with pretty much all of them, especially Lisa Foiles. I really owe a lot to that sassy, tenacious redhead – I really think every convention needs a Lisa Foiles. She is not only awesome and a hard worker, but a real geek and a GOOD PERSON. She always makes me laugh. I adore that girl – and she is a HUGE part of the Comikaze Team! On a side note, my friends call me the Pokemaster of All That, because literally we have almost the full set! GOTTA CATCH ‘EM ALLLL THAT!
How hot and sexy is Elvira in person?
C: I want to look like her. I mean, seriously. Elvira is the hottest woman ever. I want to know her secret – woman is ROCKIN’! She is also an amazing business woman. Talk about a turbo FOX. She doesn’t age; it’s insane. She has not changed at all in the last thirty years! She is a hero to all women in so many ways!
On that note, how hot and sexy is Stan (The Man) Lee?
C: Stan Lee is one of the most charismatic people I have ever met. When you are with him, you are with the smartest person on earth – the man is sharp as a tack. Move over, Dos Equis man, Stan Lee is the most interesting man in the world. He is also HILARIOUS! And yes, Stan is freakin’ sexy; I mean the man has SWAGGER! Stan has been wonderful, as have all the people at POW! Their team has been so amazing to us! We
In all seriousness, what does Comikaze Expo mean to you as a fan, geek and a woman? What do you want people to take away from it after everything has been said and done?
C: As a fan, Comikaze Expo is a great show that is affordable. Most shows are expensive. Comikaze is for everyone and has SOMETHING for everyone, as well. As a geek, we literally have every aspect of the nerd world representing – and on a big level. No geek can go wrong. As a woman, I am proud to be featuring and showcasing so many talented females at our show. The ladies get the short end of the stick so many times, but at Comikaze they are celebrated and loved. Everyone loves chicks!
For our attendees, I want them to leave being inspired. I want kids to come to our show and leave wanting to create, or to realize it’s ok to be a geek. I want people to walk in and know they got way more then what they paid for. Our ticket prices are insanely low. I want families to come in and know they saved money and their kids had a blast because in this bad economy, they were able to afford something. And lastly, I want people to know that Comikaze Expo is here to stay, and this show is for you, and for the community. I promise I will always give the people of OUR CITY the best show at the best price, and make our city a better place! GEEKS ARISE! IT’S TIME TO INVADE! THIS IS FOR YOU, LOS ANGELES!
Go to ComikazeExpo.com now and buy your tickets! For $12 per day, you can’t go wrong.
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Follow the Space Pirate Queen on twitter @punkagogo.