Comic-Con L.A. – Comic Book Nerds Rejoice!

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Formerly known as Comikaze Expo, Comic-Con L.A. is a three-day event that brings comic books lovers, writers, and cosplayers alike in one place to celebrate the ever-changing and expansive world that is the comic universe.

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I’ve always been an avid comic book reader since the age of six, in particular of horror comics and Archie comics (so yes, I DO love Riverdale, don’t judge me).

This event usually brings 90,000 people to share their communal love for comics. I met a lot of people that had come all the way from Italy and the U.K. to be at this event, and many east coasters found their way to Los Angeles too.

Of course, everyone goes to Comic-Con for the comics, but you can’t help but also go there to see all the cosplayers or to dress up yourself. This was my first time going and I decided not dress up (or at least I semi-did by wearing a Sabrina The Teenage Witch shirt and kinda selecting the rest of the outfit and makeup based on what the character of Sabrina would wear). But I had a blast getting to see everyone else dressed up (and I’ll admit that I veered on taking photos of people that were more of the goth realm than any other subculture).

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It was also very cool to see some iconic movie props and costumes being displayed at the event. From the Ghostbusters car to the suit Winona Ryder wore in Stranger Things when her character went to the Upside Down world. But one of my absolute favourites was being able to see the armor that Gary Oldman wore in Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula.

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I also had a chance to meet the co-writers Jim Krueger and Samantha Levenshus when I was given a free copy of the new comic Neon Future (co-created by Emmy-nominated producer and global DJ sensation Steve Aoki in partnership with Impact Theory Studios). Not only were the writers kind enough to sign my copy of the comic but I had a pleasant chat with Jim Krueger who loved my Sabrina The Teenage Witch tee and we discussed our communal love for The Afterlife with Archie comic series and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina series and how much we’re looking forward to the new Archie horror series that has the Blossom twins as protagonist called 666. Taking a look at the comic Neon Future, I was delighted to see that the comic explored the idea of how it isn’t technology that brings about the evil of the world in a futuristic dystopian society, but rather it’s the human use and feelings towards that technology that brings about the downfall of man, making it thus so that the world can be taken by cyborgs. The idea is utterly compelling and I highly recommend to check it out if you have the chance!

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And lastly…I was in comic book heaven when I saw all of the retro Archie Comics that the event had to offer. Sadly, some of the very awesome retro ones from the 50’s were out of my price range (a rare Sabrina comic was up for sale for $200) but I found many from the 70’s that were in good condition and not crazily expensive. One of the most interesting crossovers was one Archie meets Batman comic that I had to get just because it was THAT out in the left field. While I was there I also picked up a horror comic too that explores the themes in the Grimms Faerytales. I would’ve loved to purchase some retro Tales from the Crypt, but alas, the price range for those were out of this world ($500!).

For any 80’s fans, the con also had a ton of 80’s toys (from Teddy Ruxpin to Popples) it pretty much looked like someone had cleared out their attic and brought these toys to sell, which left me wishing I could clear out my own garage of 80’s toys so that I too could slap a $100 price tag on a Cabbage Patch Kids or $50 on a Pound Puppies plush. Are there any takers?

Comic-Con L.A. was a truly fun experience, and if you wish to immerse yourself in comic world memorabilia and unleash your inner child, then this event is truly for you.

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In Remembrance of a Realization

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Although I was shocked and upset to hear of his passing just over a year ago, I can’t say that I really mourned the loss of David Bowie. To be honest, I was never a true fan. There were a few songs titles I could rattle off. Some were catchy enough that I knew a few lyrics, but I didn’t own any of his music. I never followed his career or took the time to investigate him as a person. He was always just a famous face to a famous name.

Now, something’s changed. There’s a need to hear some of those catchy tunes and look up those mysterious lyrics – all the significant lines of verse and poetry I naively mumbled through until I hit the refrain. Even more, there was a desire to hear the music I hadn’t discovered yet; to understand Ziggy Stardust and why he had come from Mars to share his other-worldly musical powers. Who was that rebel anyway? I had to know.

Like haunting earworms, his songs played over and over again in my head, so much so that while humming China Girl one morning, it suddenly started playing over the grocery store radio speakers. I froze for a few seconds. It was like Mr. Bowie had heard my pitiful eulogy in the form of his own song…and decided to reply. There had been a strange sadness in my chest, unnoticeable until that moment. Then, it finally dawned on me: I missed him.

I missed the daring messages he delivered in his music, the influence he had; his poetic ability to shine bright stage lights on hot-button social issues. Things were different now. It was like a hero had fallen. His trusty call signal had flickered out and now the citizens were forced to fend for themselves again. The world felt remote and untouchable. Maybe it’s the hyper-awareness of gender and racial inequality in America right now. Maybe it’s the intolerance and lack of respect for all of our LGBT brothers, sisters and non-binary siblings that has come to the forefront in the past year of political mayhem.

All the unique personas, personal triumphs and public trials of David Bowie, kept conservative-thinkers on their toes. He pushed society’s ‘taboos’ until they were trends. Sure, he gave us great music, but he was also an example and a boundary breaker, giving a voice to a diverse group of misunderstood and under-appreciated individuals. He was the musical medium that helped shape perspectives of those who had yet to learn the value of this acceptance and equality.

I always knew this about him, but I never stopped to appreciate that fact. Anyway, it was easy to deny he was gone when his music was still here to comfort me. But now the emptiness has started to seep in. Sometimes grief doesn’t settle into one’s consciousness right away. It takes time to digest. And with a loss as great as Bowie, sometimes a bit of denial is necessary to keep one’s life in balance.

I’m starting to realize how much of an impact this man made on my life while I wasn’t looking. How many countless others will ever become fully-conscious of his influence? Does it even matter? No, not really. His influence is there whether we acknowledge it or not. That’s the mark of a passionate, talented artist. That’s the definition of greatness. What a legacy to leave behind.

By: Erica Ruhe