On Halloween morning, Violet and I got up and prepared to head out to the Los Angeles Convention Center for Stan Lee’s Comikaze. This was my second year in attendance, and Violet’s third, and it seemed to have grown since last year, now taking place in both the South and West Halls. We both decided to dress up this year, since it was Halloween and all. I suited up as Marty McFly from Back to the Future in honor of the 30th anniversary of Marty going to the future (October 21st 2015, in the second movie), while Violet dressed up as Scarlet Witch–the Avengers: Age of Ultron version. After suiting up, we hit the road for LA.
Heading up the 5 North and 10 West freeways was pretty smooth sailing. It was around 8:15am when we left, so there wasn’t much traffic. That is, until we neared the Convention Center. We exited a little early on Los Angeles Street, and took some side roads to get the rest of the way there. Knowing registration was in the West Hall, we decided to skip parking at the South Hall, which we came to first. This actually was a bit of a headache. Apparently everyone got an early start going to the Convention, and we spent a good half hour just trying to find a parking spot. Finally some guy walking around with a walkie talkie told me to park next to a wall. He had a walkie talkie, he had to be official right?
We headed for the lobby, and the parking spot we got was actually pretty close to where we had to go. Unfortunately, there was not a lot of signs for “Press Registration,” but we wandered a bit, and asked the staff where to go. They were pretty helpful in pointing us in the right direction. The general admission line seemed very long, but thankfully the press pick up only had a few people ahead of us. Getting our badge was pretty swift.
We wandered about, and I noticed I was not terribly unique with my costume idea. I had seen several Marty McFlys wandering around. Some 1985 versions, and some 2015 versions. What was surprising is some were kids. This has to be from parental influence, to which I highly approve. Kids these days need to appreciate Back to the Future! Violet wanted to locate a program guide, so we wandered the lobby area a bit, when I hear, “Hey Marty!” I turned to look, and found Doc Brown, a stroller Delorean, and a doggie Marty McFly from the future. We took a quick photo together, and Doc shared his Instagram account with me. It is @pierre_dont_care if you are a doggie Instagram fan.
After retrieving the program guide, we headed to a panel that Violet wanted to attend. I wasn’t very excited about it, but I conceded to her wishes given the holiday. It was the panel “Haunted LA”–a panel about paranormal investigators who investigate paranormal activity in historical buildings. Ugh.
A quick digression here, which might be controversial–I am very scientific in nature, and when I hear anything regarding a TV show about ghost hunters or paranormal investigating teams, I immediately shut down. Ghosts are one of those things I have a very hard time listening to stories about. Violet on the other hand, is much more open to this, and believes much more in the supernatural than I do. It is pretty funny–Violet and I agree on almost everything, but when it comes to ghosts and aliens, we are like Democrats and Republicans—we don’t see eye to eye. One day we will have to do a debate for the site stating our opinions–but I digress.
Haunted LA, Room 501A
The panel was in room 501A, at 10am, and while the listing on the Comikaze site indicates 6 people, there were actually only 4 panelists–APRA (American Paranormal Research Assocation) founder Brandon Alvis, Dr. Harry Kloor, Michael Rudie, and Matt Goldman.
The panel opened with discussing what the team does–Brandon seems to be the leader of the team, finding locations to investigate, Michael was said to be the “guinea pig” who is put into the scary situations alone to see what happens, Matt Goldman was the “sensitive” who would pick up on the spirits, and Dr. Harry Kloor was providing the science side of the investigation, trying to come up with logical explanations for what was going on at the various locations they had visited.
Dr. Harry Kloor and the team wanted to inform us that their investigations were unlike other ghost hunter groups, in that they use the “Scientific Method” to determine if a place is haunted, rather than sensationalize their stories for good TV. It seems like an admirable way to approach what they do. To his own admission, Brandon Alvis said that of over 100 locations they have investigated, he has only concluded that 10 are actually haunted. Dr. Harry Kloor, to his credit, said he isn’t willing to say that any of the locations he has been to have been confirmed haunted.
When it came to Michael and Matt, they seemed much more part of the “feeling” of the haunted places, which as Dr. Harry Kloor points out, is not a scientific explanation. But, Michael and Matt both described various instances in which they have had experiences in which they felt something supernatural was around. Interestingly, Matt said that the overwhelming majority of his supernatural experiences were good experiences rather than scary.
Dr. Harry Kloor polled the room with a question, asking how many people in the audience were believers, and how many were not. I knew the answer would overwhelmingly be believers, otherwise why would they be here? When he asked for disbelievers, there were only a few people. To my dread, Brandon pointed out Marty McFly (me) as a non-believer. Dr. Harry Kloor did ask one more interesting question, which was basically asking who wants to find out the truth about ghosts? Dr. Harry Kloor also made a classification for skeptics–true skeptics, and ones that are just disbelievers. I have a hard time figuring out where to place myself. I am definitely a skeptic, but I could be very close to a “disbeliever” as well.
The panelists also discussed their future goals, which is a documentary, as well as developing a classification system for haunted places. One interesting experiment Dr. Harry Kloor brought up was how he ran an experiment with 12 people, telling them a place was haunted, and sending them inside in the dark to see how they reacted. He would question them after the event and all of them said they had some sort of feeling of supernatural phenomena. He also mentioned measuring the Cortisol levels of the participants, to measure their fear response, which was interesting. The panelists also took some audience questions, which was interesting to hear their answers. One teaser the panelists kept bringing up was some footage they were going to show from the Queen Mary, which is supposed to be haunted. They had some footage from 2008 which showed a ghost sitting in a side room. The video is on Youtube as well, so if you desire to see it, take a look here:
They also talked briefly about the documentary they are coming out with soon. You can see a trailer of it here:
As for the panel, it was pretty entertaining. It certainly didn’t change my beliefs, and with something so ingrained in my head, a simple “for entertainment purposes” panel about ghost hunting is not going to change my mind. But sitting in this panel did bring up a few questions to my mind. The first one being–what is the purpose of a ghost? Is a ghost something that would exist if humanity didn’t anymore? To explain further–it is much like “When a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound?” On the same token, does a ghost haunt if there is no one around to view haunting? By definition it almost seems like ghosts require the presence of human interaction in order to do their “function.” It is an interesting thought that came to me during the course of their investigation. I don’t really know why it is significant, or if it really is. But what would be the point of ghosts if there weren’t people around to witness it? I guess (not to get too philosophical…) perhaps the purpose of humanity in general is to experience what happens in the world, and maybe that is part of our purpose? I know this is a little off topic, but it was something that stayed with me after this panel.
Secondly, I should state before going any further, that I know nothing other than the 75 minutes I spent with these guys today, but in general, I feel when there is television involved, the number one purpose of that camera and people on the show is to entertain the people who will be seeing the footage. This makes it very hard for me to take anybody on TV (in most subjects, not just ghosts) seriously. If this investigative team found zero evidence of paranormal activity, they would not have much of a show. They seem to acknowledge that themselves to an extent, referencing other shows and their desire to provide entertainment more than facts. But if I am speaking from a purely neutral and scientific perspective, I have to think that any group that puts themselves on TV, no matter what they say, is possible of sacrificing the truth for ratings, and there is no way for me to know for sure without actually being on set. To add to this, the target audience for this show is people who already believe. Therefore, there is not going to have to be a ton of convincing in order to get their audience to believe what they put on the screen.
Additionally, the thing that makes me question the validity of any ghost hunter group is the locations themselves that they visit. Brandon Alvis specifically stated that their investigations increased visits to the historical landmarks that had all but been abandoned before they were involved with them. This seems to me to indicate that a ghost hunter has a vested interest in finding something “unexplainable” at the very least, as why would anyone want to visit a historical landmark that is just a plain old landmark that already was not getting visits? You add ghosts to a landmark, and all of a sudden you will get tons of visitors coming by to see for themselves. The Queen Mary seems to be a great example of that. I would imagine a good portion of the tours of the Queen Mary are from people’s fascination with its haunting.
Third, I commend their desire to provide scientific analysis to determine the validity of the various investigations they do, but I had some problems with even how they handled the panel, let alone investigated an area. Matt and the rest of the investigative team described him as a “sensitive.” From a scientific explanation, this makes zero sense. As far as I am aware, there is no scientific proof of such things. Therefore, trying to use someone who is a “sensitive” to investigate paranormal activity is flawed by nature. In my personal opinion, if you are going to use someone calling them a “sensitive” to investigate paranormal activities, you first have to figure out what makes this person the way he is. If you can’t, then you have to rely purely on the science you can actually use. But this opens a bunch of problems too–you can’t prove something doesn’t exist, you can only prove what does exist. Therefore, if you have something unexplainable happen, and can’t immediately find a scientific explanation for what happened, it can be used as “proof” of paranormal activity. This makes it very hard for science to disprove anything that can’t be scientifically tested definitely.
Again, to Dr. Harry Kloor’s credit, he discusses these very issues during the panel. Perhaps I will have to watch their documentary to see how it is handled in the show, and see if it has a chance to change my mind, or at the very least, open my mind a little more.
It’s Violet taking over for the rest of the article! After the Haunted LA panel let out shortly before 11:30, we headed over to the South Hall, as we wanted to see Summer Glau’s panel, which was at 12:00pm. But first, we had to try to figure out how to get to the South Hall, since this was the first time we had ever been to the West Hall, considering that in the past, Comikaze has been entirely in the South Hall. It actually wasn’t too hard to find. We had gone upstairs to get to the Haunted LA panel room, so we went back downstairs to the main lobby, and then saw a sign outside with an arrow pointing to South Hall, so we followed the sign down an outside corridor. It was already pretty crowded, both inside and outside, and we had to walk past some food trucks that already had lines forming.
Soon, we made it to the South Hall, but things looked a little different there than in the past, as Comikaze was occupying only Hall K of the South Hall, so it was much smaller. There were some vendors that we walked past while on our way to the Hot Topic Main Stage.
Hot Topic Main Stage: Special Announcement
We walked up just in time, as Stan Lee was brought out right then for what was billed on the program as a “Special Announcement.” Bill Macdonald, known for his work on Rome, and Ralph Hemecker, known for his work on The Flash and Once Upon a Time also joined Stan Lee on stage. The announcement was that the three of them are working on a movie with a new superhero named Arch Alien, which Stan Lee claimed was “unlike any superhero you’ve ever seen before.” They didn’t reveal many details about the film, but Stan Lee “accidentally” let it slip that there was some other universe that would be discovered. Lee also said that of course a comic book would be released in association with this. The announcement only lasted a few minutes before the panelists left the stage.
Stan Lee and Yoshiki’s Blood Red Dragon, Hot Topic Main Stage
Just a few minutes later, Stan Lee returned to the stage with Japanese rock star Yoshiki, who is in the band X Japan, and is apparently the “Bono of Japan.” They spoke about their collaboration on the motion comic Blood Red Dragon, in which Yoshiki himself is the superhero. We got to watch a clip from Blood Red Dragon, then Yoshiki took a few questions from the audience. One person asked him what it felt like to be a superhero, and he said that it was a great honor. The short panel ended with another clip from Blood Red Dragon, this time featuring a Stan Lee cameo!
Summer Glau, Hot Topic Main Stage
Not long after, Summer Glau came out on stage with a moderator. She is probably best known for her role as River on Firefly, but has also appeared in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Arrow, and several other series. The moderator got things started off getting her to talk about her past as a ballerina, and mentioned that her first acting job, which was a role on Angel, she played a ballerina. Summer said it was hard for her starting out because she was used to just dancing, so it took some getting used to when it came to using her voice. She also mentioned how, as a dancer, she is used to things being choreographed, so when she was in Knights of Badassdom, a LARPing movie, it was difficult for her because the action wasn’t choreographed. Of course, the question came up of whether she would want the Firefly universe to continue, but basically she that the short time it lasted was special, and if they went back and did more of it, she doesn’t think it would be the same. However, she did admit that she would have liked to experience being the pilot, and that she would like to see what River is like all grown up. Later, during audience Q&A, someone asked her if she could change anything that happened on Firefly or Serenity, what would she change (and suggested Wash not dying), but she said that she wouldn’t change anything. She also said that she enjoyed being the pilot, so she wouldn’t want to bring Wash back anyway!
Another audience question was what she stole from the set of Serenity. Summer confessed that this question came up shortly after they wrapped the movie, and she was shocked to hear what all her co-stars took, because she had been specifically told not to take anything. Therefore, she didn’t take anything, because she is a rule-follower. She was also asked who was the biggest practical joker she has worked with, and her answer was, “Nathan, Nathan, Nathan,” of course referring to Nathan Fillion, who played Captain Mal on Firefly. Summer then told a story that we had heard at Phoenix Comicon about how one time she flubbed a line on what was an otherwise flawless take from all the other cast members. When that happened, she heard Nathan yell from the other side of the ship, “Summer!” From then on, anytime something went wrong, whether she was there or not, Nathan would yell “Summer!” and got the other cast members to start doing it as well. Apparently, he also continued doing this on other sets he has worked on. As for pranking Nathan back, Summer advised, “You don’t try to beat Nathan at his own game.” She also told us about a stuffed monkey that Nathan had accidentally maimed, and mailed its thumb back to the owner!
An audience member asked what genre she would like to do that she hasn’t already. Summer said that when she first started out, she was interested in doing period pieces, and would like to be in a Jane Austen movie. This sparked the moderator to ask her to speak in a British accent for us, but she said she’s still working on that. However, apparently she does a good Russian accent, and said that in her episode of Angel she used a Russian accent. At first, she didn’t use an accent, but then Joss Whedon called her up and suggested using the accent. Summer also mentioned that she had wanted to use a Russian accent while on Arrow, but they didn’t let her. Apparently, Summer has just recently returned from working on a project in Russia, and she recited a line in Russian that she remembered. It sounded very menacing, and she said it translates to something along the lines of threatening to castrate you.
Before we knew it, the short panel, lasting only about 25 minutes, was over.
By this time, it was almost 12:30pm, so we went in search of lunch. Being USC football fans, we wanted to go to a place where we could sit down and watch the game, so we walked over to LA Live, which is across the street from the Convention Center (well, the West Hall anyway). We ended up eating at Yard House, which had no wait, and they obliged our request to be seated where we could watch the game. While there, Twitter friend Megan Gotch @thenerdygirlie tweeted me and some other Twitter friends asking where we were. I replied that we were eating lunch at Yard House and would be going to the Marvel cosplay meetup at 4pm. A little while later I get a text from Megan asking if I was still at Yard House, and I said yes. A few minutes later, Megan comes to our table to say hi! It was so great to see her, as we hadn’t been able to meet up for a long time – not since Comikaze last year, I think! So we chatted for a bit, and then she headed over to the con, while Josh and I finished watching the football game. The game finished up shortly after 3pm, and USC won!
Exhibit Hall Floor and Marvel Cosplay Meetup
After the USC football game was over, we headed over to West Hall to walk around the Exhibit Hall floor for awhile before I went to the 4pm Marvel cosplay meetup. Upon entering the West Hall, there was a Doctor Who cosplay meetup taking place inside on the stairs, so I snapped a few pictures of that.
Once inside the Exhibit Hall, it was quite crowded and very slow-moving, which is to be expected on a Saturday. There was a long line for the Hot Topic booth and we soon figured out why: it was the line to meet Grumpy Cat! Although we caught a glimpse of Grumpy Cat while walking by the booth, I didn’t get a picture, sadly. By the time we made it there, it was 3:52pm, and I figured I should start heading over to The Marvel Report Booth #1710, where they had tweeted the cosplay meetup would take place. I thought it was a little odd that it would take place at the booth, but headed that way anyway. However, upon walking to the end of the West Hall, I only saw the aisle numbers go up to 1500, and then they went into something called “ET.” I suddenly realized that they must be in the South Hall! So we had to fight to the crowd so we could hurry and get all the way over to South Hall before it was too late.
It was a little after 4 when we got to the booth, where one person was sitting. I asked about the cosplay meetup, and she told me they were doing it on the main steps out in front. So we went downstairs to the lobby of South Hall and saw a crowd of people in Marvel cosplay standing around in front of the stairs that led up to where Comikaze used to take place, and figured that must be them! Someone came up and asked if I wanted to join the Marvel cosplay meetup, and I said yes, and she told me they were just about to start, but they were still figuring out the logistics. Just then, Twitter friend John @cyberaug came up and said hi, along with other Twitter friend Jason @corgikohmander. It was the first time to finally meet Jason, so that was cool. Then they were ready to start the photo shoot, so I handed Josh all my stuff to hold, and went to join the others, while Josh took pictures.
The first picture was one big group photo, consisting of all Marvel characters, whether they be from the movies, TV, or comics. Then someone would shout out different groups, such as SHIELD only, Captain America related only, Asgardians only, villains only, Avengers only, all the guys, all the girls, etc. There were 4 or 5 of us cosplaying as Scarlet Witch, and we ended up standing together, much like at Long Beach Comic Con when I cosplayed as Agent Carter, and all the Peggy Carter cosplayers ended up grouping together.
After the photo shoot was over, Josh, John, Jason and I stood around and talked for awhile about nerdy things. I have to say, one of the best things about going to comic conventions is meeting up with friends, old and new. We chatted until around 5pm or so, then decided to call it a day, and headed home!
See below for our photo gallery of pictures from Saturday: