LA Comic Con is a 3-day event held yearly at the Los Angeles Convention Center in October with over 800 artists, vendors, toys, comics, art, and cosplay. The gala-event hosts several genres and sub-interests: comics, anime, sci-fi, gaming, wrestling and — you guessed it — horror.
I’ve been sick and dragging since Joe Bob Briggs’ legendary one man show at Beyond Fest, but there’s no way I was going to miss the LA Comic Con. I’ve been drinking kefir and matcha green tea all year, trying to super-boost my health. But even though I quit smoking, I ended up getting sick and it’s not even ‘winter’ in LA. Boo! Despite that, I woke up early, drank coffee, ordered an uber and off I went. Here’s four highlights of the event:
Horror Cosplay I Stan
I’m not a person who does cosplay but I love it when I see it. There’s something pure about people who dedicate serious time to designing costumes of characters they love. Second, when I take a picture of a person in cosplay, I notice that their face lights up for a second before they ‘get into character.’ How cool is that? Dressing up in costumes makes people happy, so I’m here for it.
LA Comic Con holds a huge annual cosplay contest that’s judged by professional costume designers on Saturday night, people spend months preparing for it. In fact, I saw a delightful woman dressed as Maleficent, sitting on the floor of the main room with a drill in hand, fixing her costume. God, I love her for that. Plus, she looked stunning in the gown after she fixed her black wings.
But the most startling cosplay was the May Queen from Midsommar, who dazzled everyone with a head of beautiful flowers. I’m used to dozens of Jasons running around, so it was fun and surprising to see a new character, particularly one from an art house horror film. Second, the cult in Midsommar was terrifying because of how gentle and friendly they seemed in the beginning. NOPE. I won’t be having any tea, thank you. Please don’t bury me in the garden.
CRYPT TV Presents: A Special Screening and Panel of the Facebook Watch Original Series, THE BIRCH
The Birch panel was moderated by Darren Brandl (Crypt TV COO and Executive Producer) and featured Kate Krantz (Crypt TV CCO and Executive Producer), Xaria Dotson (Evie Grayson), Dempsy Bryk (Thurston Polk) and Michael Cram (Sebastian).
Crypt TV is a company that develops and distributes horror content, founded by Eli Roth and Jack Davis. THE BIRCH is a digital horror TV show about a monster that lives in the woods near a group of teens who deal drugs. The screening featured the first three episodes of the season, which got me hooked like yes. The Birch is a witchy tree woman who avenges people, so sign me up because I love female villains, particularly if they are ruthless and otherworldly.
After the panel and screening, I headed to the The Birch booth in the main event room, where they took my picture in a wood harness standing on a tree stump as if I was being captured by the Birch herself. I would have posted it but I had a dumb expression on my face. But the Birch looked pretty cool, raw, wooden and clingy, that’s my TYPE.
The Birch is a fun horror TV show that is both innocent and creepy, with a sensitive and strong female lead, Xaria Dotson as the loner Evie Grayson. If you like witchy stories about underdogs, then you have to check it out on Crypt TV, streaming on Facebook Watch this Halloween season.
Joker & Mental Illness
The Joker panel was hosted by psychologist Angela Petersen, PhD (Clinician, VA) and social worker Josue Pandeli (Team Lead, Bayview Behavioral Health Hospital) who discussed the mental health of the Joker and Batman and then answered questions from the audience.
When I showed up, I didn’t see Billy San Juan, PsyD (Star Wars Psychology) or Jonathan Maberry (Black Panther, V-Wars), but I stayed because there were two Women of Color running the panel, answering questions about Batman’s sanity. Panels at comic cons can sometimes feel like a sea of straight white men — so it’s wonderful to see diversity.
I’m glad I stayed because it was an illuminating discussion on mental illness and comic book characters. IS BATMAN NUTZO? Apparently, he might be. And the Joker is the Joker BECAUSE OF BATMAN, he tries to live a normal life but he can’t…because Batman is OUT THERE. They’re reflections of good and evil, drawn to each other.
The Joker’s life from the recent film was broken down, it was pointed out that he tried to get help and that the system failed him because the system needs major improvement. His therapist bailed on him because she was overwhelmed. She had reached a point where she wasn’t able to help him — and so, she gave up on him, which may have added to his stress levels and helped rupture his already fragile psyche, though she can’t be blamed for his violence.
The point is: people with mental illness need help. The system has to be improved to prevent domestic and workplace violence and in the Joker’s case — destructive violence on a grand scale. But also, it’s our duty as a society and the reason why we pay taxes, to aid those who are sick or in need. In addition, mental illness has a stigma in our society, which prevents people from getting the help that they need in time; that’s why it’s socially useful for comedians like Maria Bamford and tentpole films like Joker to explore and depict the struggles of poor mental health.
Terrors of the 2020s: Where Horror Is Going In The Next Decade
Moderated by horror writer James Sabata, featuring: Josh Miller (Sonic, Best Movies Never Made), Jared Rivet (Jackals, Are You Afraid of the Dark, Dead Right) and Alyse Wax (Dread Central/The World of IT).
This was my favorite panel of this year’s comic con because it covered EXACTLY what I’m interested in — horror, and the future of horror, by people who fucking love horror. So: Is it going to be slashers? More dolls? Intimate art house horror? Or a return to gore? What’s happening in horror in 2020?!?
Well, no one really knows exactly but they speculated that one thing is certain, based on the power of Jordan Peele’s Get Out — we are going to see more socially conscious horror films. And most importantly, new horror will feature diversity —both in front and behind the camera, involved in all aspects of production.
The panel also discussed why so many horror reboots are made instead of original ideas — I didn’t know this — it’s because the production company will lose the rights if they don’t make a film. That’s why we see a franchise like Leprechaun or Chucky pop up every seven years or so. Also, the reboots don’t always involve the original creator, as Clive Barker disowned one of the many Hellraiser films, officially saying he wanted nothing to do with it.
According to the panel, it’s a good time for independent horror — well, it’s a good time for movies to be seen on streaming platforms, but not necessarily to get paid. Though some filmmakers have made great horror films like “Big Ass Spider!” on a small budget. But it’s getting harder and harder to secure funding for original premises, as companies prefer to reboot horror films from the past, instead of gamble on new ideas.
STAY OUT OF THE CORN AND MY MIND
There was a point during the panel when an audience member asked, out of the blue, if anyone had seen the horror film, ‘Stay Out Of The Corn,’ with Cloris Leachman, which no one had seen yet. She said that it was an Amazon Prime…but I looked for it and I couldn’t find it. Weird enough, I googled it and I didn’t find it streaming anywhere. Then, I looked up Cloris Leachman’s filmography and I couldn’t find that title in her body of work.
So, like, does this film EXIST? Did I imagine that bit happened? No, because I record my panels, I have proof, yo. So perhaps, it’s a different movie? But certainly, corn would still be in the title. Right? Maybe it was with a different but similar actress? HELP ME FIND THIS OBSCURE MOVIE.
Well, I probably have thought about the corn movie for too long, but I am genuinely curious because she said that it had some members of the fictional Manson family in it. And they’re all hanging out in a cornfield!? Is there a corn demon too? I need to see this! So, if anyone is familiar with the horror film “Stay Out Of The Corn,” send me a message and keep me in the know.
Also, the title is hilarious. Stay out of the corn? Who wants to be in the corn? Didn’t we all see Children of the Corn? There’s no way I want to hang out in a cornfield, I don’t like scarecrows, man. They’re creepy!
LA Comic Con returns in September 2020; so you have an entire year to write that script, build that costume, or enjoy streaming content in the glory age of digital supremacy because before you know it, it’ll be comic con time in downtown LA.