By Gavin Arucan | Staff Writer
While pop culture fans around the world flocked to New York Comic Con, one of the biggest comic conventions in America, the Amazing Comic Con returned to Hawai‘i for the second time in 2016 to give local comic book fans who couldn’t fly five thousand miles their comic convention fix.
On the weekend of October 8 and 9, Amazing Comic Con held a special event at the Hawai‘i Convention Center in Honolulu. In September 2015, Amazing Comic Con brought O‘ahu its first major comic convention despite earlier claims that the island couldn’t support a huge event like that. Amazing Hawai‘i Comic Con focuses on flying in guests that are known as creators in comic and pop culture, and for their first event they went all out and flew in the legendary Stan Lee, creator of Spider-Man and other well known Marvel superheroes. Thousands of comic book fans from around the island, and some from the mainland, attended the convention to meet celebrities, buy locally crafted merchandise, and dress up as their favorite fictional character.
Despite the fact that this special Amazing Hawai‘i Comic Con was smaller than the first two normal conventions, there was no shortage of noteworthy guests. The convention drew in more anime fans by bringing in several voice actors such as Max Mittelman, Robbie Daymond, and Ray Chase, who all did voice work on the english dubs of various anime shows. However, the biggest name among the voiceover guests was Veronica Taylor, the original english voice of the iconic character Ash Ketchum from the Pokemon anime.
There were significantly less comic book related special guests at this event. Chad Hardin, an artist for the Harley Quinn comics, and Eddie Nunez, a cover artist for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, had their own booths at the convention. Mat Nastos, a Disney animator who grew up on Oahu, returned to Amazing Hawai‘i Comic Con for the third time. Nastos has become popular with child attendees for his free Phineas and Ferb sketches during the “Kid’s Day” event on Sunday. However, one guest is revered by comic book readers for his iconic work in modern comics. Marvel comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis was the fan favorite guest at the convention. Bendis received a huge applause and many cheers when he started his panel, and fans formed a long line to get their paraphernalia signed by him.
Bendis is probably best known as the creator of Miles Morales, the African-American and Hispanic Spider-Man that took the world by storm in Marvel’s Ultimate comics. Bendis’ writing also influenced the extremely popular Netflix incarnations of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage.
During his Saturday panel, Bendis talked about the impact of film throughout his life. Bendis discussed three of his favorite films: “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” “Reds,” and “High Fidelity.” Throughout the panel, while talking about what he likes in each of those movies, Bendis went on a few tangents about his writing career. He ranted for a while about how he obsessed over Indiana Jones comics as a child, even going as far as redrawing the first scene of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” shot for shot. He was even offered to work on an Indiana Jones comic while he worked at Marvel. While he had to decline the offer, much to his own dismay, Bendis made it very clear that he wants to work on an Indiana Jones comic now that the rights are with Marvel. Bendis concluded his panel with some advice for aspiring writers. Bendis described times when ideas just came to him that changed how he perceived his story. “Don’t let people tell you not to pursue those moments,” said Bendis. “Some people like to plan and you should plan, but planning is to allow inspiration. Sometimes I see people plan and strangle the inspiration right out of [their writing].”
For many people who aren’t as well versed in the comic book world, the most appealing part of the convention isn’t the special guests, it’s the cosplayers. Cosplayers are people who attend various conventions costumed as their favorite characters from comics, movies, games, and shows. The most dedicated cosplayers spend months preparing for their next convention by building their highly detailed costumes from scratch. Attendees approach cosplayers to get a quick photo with their favorite heroes.
Cosplayers Josh Armstrong from Kapolei and Barbara Pascua from Makakilo attended Amazing Hawai‘i Comic Con as Captain America and Peggy Carter respectively. Armstrong is no stranger to comic conventions and has been attending every event in Hawai‘i for the past two years. His very first costume was of DC character, Superboy, which only required a special t-shirt and jeans. Since then, Armstrong evolved his craft and has made several costumes for conventions, most of the costumes being different iterations of Captain America’s costume. For Amazing Hawai‘i Comic Con, Armstrong cosplayed as Captain America from “The Winter Soldier.” Rather than creating the entire costume from scratch, Armstrong says he “bought the main suit but upgraded and changed a lot of of the little details to make it more screen accurate.” When looking for materials to build a costume, Armstrong makes sure to use a design that fits his personality. Armstrong sees cosplay as a different way to express himself and “allows [him] to be someone else for a few days.”
To learn more about future Amazing Hawai‘i Comic Cons, click here.
To read all of Gavin’s stories, click here. Gavin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.