Comics have become a foundation for the entertainment industry with comic related properties dominating the movie industry and multiple comic book television shows airing on network or cable channels. For most consumers, the closest they’ll come to the folks behind the stories is credit’s they sit through to find the hidden scene at an “Avengers” movie but Santa Monica’s local comic book store wants to put faces to the names on the books.
Hi De Ho Comics will host their first Comic Con on Saturday May 7 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. The event includes an indoor/outdoor sale, booths from comic companies, artist tables, food, a raffle, door prizes and a costume contest at 2 p.m. The event coincides with Free Comic Book Day and there will be a selection of free books available.
Participants include Stranger Comics, Aftershock Comics, 451 Media Group, Imagine Everything Studios, EMET Comics, George Wassil (writer Oh Hell), Joshua Henaman (writer Action Lab’s Bigfoot Sword of the Earthman), Eddie deAngelini (writer/artist Collectors), For The Win Project and Ralph Villalobos (artist).
The store changed owners last year with Eddie deAngelini, his wife Kristen Parraz and Geoffrey Patterson taking the reigns. At the time, the trio said they planned to increase the store’s event calendar and the inaugural convention is part of a larger effort integrate fans with the creative community and showcase the diversity of storytelling options present in the modern industry.
“What people don’t realize is comic books are one of America’s greatest art forms that doesn’t get the credit it deserves,” said deAngelini. “It’s an industry that’s been around for more than seven decades and it has so much cultural significance for introducing characters worldwide.”
Of the participating vendors this Saturday, most are connected to Los Angeles and some to Santa Monica specifically.
Lee Kramer, President and Co-Founder of Aftershock Comics was born in Los Angeles and spent his early years living in Santa Monica. He credited comics, and Hi De Ho specifically, for inspiring him to pursue a career in the creative fields.
“While growing up Hi De Ho was legitimately my comic book shop every Wednesday,” he said. “It actually is how I learned to read.”
Aftershock will have two creators at the show.
Adam Glass has a successful career as a writer and executive producer on shows like “Supernatural,” “Cold Case” and currently “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders.” His comic credits include stints on Suicide Squad and Deadpool.
Marguerite Bennett has sold more than a million copies of her published work that spans titles like Batman and Bombshells. She’s also worked on the Fox TV show Sleepy Hollow.
Kramer said creative individuals choose to work in comics because the medium provides opportunities for creative storytelling that far exceeds other visual media. He said that diversity in content is why non-comic book fans should take advantage of events like Hi De Ho’s Comic Con.
“I guarantee that because people don’t like to go to places alone, they will bring a friend. Perhaps that friend has seen a TV show, or a film and they will be able to meet these writers and be intrigued and pick up a comic for the first time. It’s a really easy medium to start.”
Stephen Francis is director of new media and innovation at 451 Media and the company counts prolific movie maven Michael Bay as a founder. He said the medium attracts top talent because it allows writers and artists to pursue ideas that would be rejected other places and stores like Hi De Ho offer a chance for artists to see that work come to life.
“Ultimately if you’re an artist you make something and you want that feedback,” he said. “One of the most rewarding things for the writers we work with, is they come up with an idea and with pen, paper, ink, it’s a lot easier than a $100 million movie. They can see the story coming to life visually and distributed to fans for feedback … It’s very rewarding for an artist to create that feedback and it’s part of the artistic process, it’s very much creating a two way street.”
Francis said comics have always been more diverse than broader media but it’s only accelerated recently.
“The diversity you’ll see in the comic book space is amazing,” he said.
451 publishes “Six,” a title from acclaimed crime writer George Pelecanos, who was an executive producer of HBO’s “The Wire.”
“When people think of comic books they think of superheroes in tights, they don’t think of a gritty crime drama.”
For Francis, launching new work at a neighborhood store is a way to reach tomorrow’s tastemakers.
“We chose to get into print medium and distribute for an important reason,” he said. “The fans that go to those shops, the customers at those shops have are the most influential fans in the community. It is a tight community to break into. You do have to earn the respect of the stores and consumers to break in to a new book and a new property.”
Kramer said the opportunity for artists to interact with the consumers of their work is one his company is grateful for and he said it’s important to continue to support the community institutions like Hi De Ho.
“It’s a great honor for Aftershock,” he said. “To have an opportunity to give back to a childhood store and spread the word further. Without the retailers, Aftershock would not be in business.”
Hi De Ho Comics is located at 1431 Lincoln Blvd. Their Comic Con will be Saturday, May 7 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Call (310) 394-2820 or visit www.hidehocomics.com for more information.
Editor’s note: Hi De Ho Comics produces a weekly column for the Daily Press.