Comikaze Expo: Geeks, Gamers and Going Back in Time

Geeks have gone mainstream thanks to the growing world of the internet and Hollywood figuring out comic book heroes can pull in the big bucks, no matter how many times their origin stories are retold. But it’s not only the comic world that is becoming the norm, Horror staples like zombies are hit TV series, comedy troupes are recognizable celebrities (well, online) and anime is as American as baseball.  But no matter how big the geek realm gets, the extremists will always lay on the outskirts to come together at convention centers annually at events like this year’s Comikaze Expo. In just its first year, Comikaze proved to be a memorable and successful occasion by bringing together nerd culture and making some childhood dreams come true.

Never hearing of Comikaze, I had my reservations as to how many people would be there. Much to my surprise I was happy to see the overwhelming response decked out in their cosplay best, from a creepy Teletubbie to a very beautiful Link. I went not only because I love to be submerged in a sea of awkward folks, but for Nickelodeon’s All That mini reunion. Ever since Nick decided to have a 90’s resurgence, bringing together one of the most well-loved casts was on everyone’s minds and Comikaze made that happen. So after doing a round of the floor, stocked full of artists, Elvira (woman does not age), novel-tees and a massive amount of card game tournaments…a seat was claimed in front for the All That panel, which was hours away. Before I got to fangirl my childhood, a pair of other panels were sat through.

“Monster Abduction is REAL” was well; it wasn’t what I had expected. Pictures of Nessie and Bigfoot with abduction tales are what I wanted, but instead we got Dr. Duke Davis and a PowerPoint presentation that left us all a little confused. Instead of a chupacabra, we got a photo of a skull on a fridge. But the couple of audience participants who seemed dead serious with their inquires made it worth the sit.

Once the “monsters” were out, in came “Comedy Troupes Are the New Rock Stars.” Much more my style than the monster mash before it, the little bookworm in me lit up when DC Pierson’s name was announced. Daniel O’Brien (Cracked.com) moderated this panel which had, along with Pierson, Michael Swaim and Abe Epperson, (Those Aren’t Muskets!, Cracked.com), and Clint Cage and Nick Mundy, (Team Tiger Awesome). O’Brien always centering on the rock star core in every question never failed to cause the panelists to crack jokes. Every man brought their a-game and I now have the urge to brush off the high school drama shoes and jump into a comedy troupe myself. Okay, maybe not today, baby steps. But the summary of the whole panel were these two points; all comedians want to write movies (eventually) and “all comedians want to be rock stars, and all rock stars want to be funny rock stars.”

That panel came to an end to me mentally when I looked to my left and seen the All That logo on a man’s tee. Squealing in my seat, my heart began to jump rope for joy as one of my 90’s loves, Josh Server came into view. Andre Meadows (blacknerd.com) came out to get it started and he knew where the overcrowded rooms’ heart laid, the 90’s. Conducting the crowd in a chorus of sing-alongs to favorites like Doug and Salute Your Shorts, I could not believe the reality of the situation. Then out came people we used to dedicate our Saturday nights to; Lori Beth Denberg, Josh Server, Alisa Reyes, Lisa Foiles, Katrina Johnson, Angelique Bates, Mark Saul, Leon Frierson, Giovonnie Samuels. Crowd favorite Kel Mitchell ran in about five minutes later to a very relieved crowd. I for one was freaking out over Repair Man’s absence.

The obvious questions were asked; favorite characters and if they’d do said characters. Hearing Katrina Johnson’s Ross Perot and Alisa Reyes’ “forever and ever and ever” sent the crowd into a moment of ecstasy, only to be sent into overdrive by Kel’s Coach Cretin. Then there were tales of their time on the set, ranging because the panel consisted of cast members that spanned the 10 seasons. From the “haunted 3rd floor” of the Sunset studio to glass walls in Orlando, all were entertaining snippets of their past. One of the youngest in the All That family, Leon Frierson said he didn’t remember much, but that didn’t seem to halter his love as he showed off his homage with his All That logo tattoo that read “All Swag.”

Towards the end they all told what they were up to now. Lisa Foiles turned into a geek’s dream girl becoming a gamer journalist, Josh Server is stepping back in the game and all the others had various projects going on as well. While the present and future are things to care about, we couldn’t really at that moment, and stepped back in time at the end when the cast was asked if they could sing the theme song. They said they would, if the crowd sang with them…So basically we all busted out our best TLC (RIP Left Eye) and that is something no one in that room will be able to forget, ever.

And the cast was very warmed by the response, noted by Kel when I caught him on Sunday as his booth, “It’s very humbling to have people like it so much and like the show and want it to come back, so I’m very excited about that, and getting to meet all the fans.” And could we expect more All That reunions? Kel was positive on that, “We all talked and were like, we really need to do something. You know I write, I put out films so I think I need to put everybody back together and do something.”

So whether you’re into the latest in comic book production, Dr. Who fandomania or can’t seem to let your past go, Comikaze had all those aspects and more in their first year, so it’ll be interesting to see how they top it when next one rolls around. Can I just suggest another All That panel and getting Marc Summers to come out and recreate a little Double Dare; we’ll take the physical challenge. Whether or not more nostalgia is on deck for 2012, Comikaze is an affordable weekend and who knows, you might lose yourself in a game of 90’s Trivial Pursuit (totally happened to my friends and I).

– Kendra

Originally published on Nov 13, 2011

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