On Sunday afternoon, Blood of the Samurai director Aaron Yamasato formally unveiled his latest project: the Kauai Comic Convention, a single-day event to be held June 8 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Kauai Marriott Resort in Lihue.
The first batch of announced guests include:
Carl Potts, comic artist and former executive editor at Marvel Comics
Sifu Mimi Chan, martial artist and model reference used for Disney’s Mulan
Hiroshi Kanatani, manga artist known for his work in Shonen Sunday and his illustrations of famous kaiju (including, of course, Godzilla)
Stacey Hayashi, screenwriter/producer of Go For Broke: An Origin Story, about the origins of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Military Intelligence Service in 1941
Sam Campos, creator of Hawaii’s own superhero Pineapple Man, whose latest work, Hawaiian Avenger Kanaka, debuted last weekend at Amazing Comic Con Aloha
Russ Ogi, local artist who’s used 3-D printing to create some really neat-looking samurai helmets
This is the sixth major pop culture convention planned for the state this year; the third to be held on a neighbor island; and, of course, the first one for Kauai in this modern con era.
Details are still sketchy, but keep checking the official con site, https://www.kauaicomicconvention.com, for more information as things develop. Potential exhibitors can apply for space there, too. I’m definitely looking forward to hearing about more.
Free Comic Book Day! This Saturday! Lots to talk about! Little time to explain! Let’s get to it.
On Saturday, various comic shops and libraries will be giving away a wide range of comic books as part of Free Comic Book Day. Some will even be hosting special events. It’s a tradition that’s run annually since 2002, and while some of the stores locally have changed over the years, the concept remains the same: give away comic books; expose readers to a wide range of series; get people into stores to peruse their stock.
This year’s event is tied in to that little art film about a big bad giant purple dude, his pretty sparkly glove, and the Marvel Bunch fighting him for it. You might have heard of it. It made a few (hundred gazillion) dollars over the past week or so.
Twenty-four public libraries statewide will be giving away comics this year. It would have been 25, but alas, poor Aina Haina is still recovering from recent flooding.
Your starting lineup on Oahu: (deep breath in)
Aiea Library, 99-374 Pohai Place (where there’s still plenty of parking and a big horking sugar molecule out front)
Hawaii Kai Library, 249 Lunalilo Home Road
Kailua Library, 239 Kuulei Road
Kalihi-Palama Library, 1325 Kalihi St. (special program, see below)
Kapolei Library, 1020 Manawai St.
Liliha Library, 1515 Liliha St.
Manoa Library, 2716 Woodlawn Drive
McCully-Moiliili Library, 2211 S. King St.
Mililani Library, 95-450 Makaimoimo St. (special program, see below)
Nanakuli Library, 89-070 Farrington Highway (the newest library, which means it’s their first year in the program!)
Salt Lake-Moanalua Library, 3225 Salt Lake Blvd.
Waikiki-Kapahulu Library, 400 Kapahulu Ave.
Waimanalo Public & School Library, 41-1320 Kalanianaole Highway
Waipahu Library, 94-275 Mokuola St.
And on the neighbor islands: Hilo, Kailua-Kona and Thelma Parker Memorial Public & School Library on the Big Island; Kahului, Kīhei, Lahaina and Makawao (with a special program!) on Maui; and Hanapepe on Kauai. Lanai Public & School Library will be represented at the Saturday Market from 8 to 10:30 a.m. in front of Cafe 565 on Seventh Street.
As for the comic book stores, there are a number to choose from again. On Oahu, there’s:
Choice Comics (98-1268 Kaahumanu St., suite 104) in Pearl City
Collector Maniacs, 3571 Waialae Ave., suite 102A, Kaimuki
Dragon’s Lair, 95-1840 Meheula Parkway, suite E-10, Mililani
Gecko Books, 1151 12th Ave., Kaimuki
Other Realms, 1130 Nimitz Highway, suite C-140, Iwilei
Westside Comics and Games, 590 Farrington Highway, #538, Kapolei
And for those of you on either Maui or the Big Island, there’s:
Maui Comics & Collectibles, 115 S. Wakea St., Kahului
Game Over Comics, 277 Wili Ko Place, suite 233, Lahaina
Enjoy Comics, 45-201 Pohaku St., Hilo
The special attractions!
Comic Jam Hawaii artists contributed 175 different character bookmarks to sets that will be given away at the libraries, as well as Choice Comics, Dragon’s Lair, Gecko Books, Maui Comics & Collectibles, Other Realms, and Westside Comics & Games. Here’s a look at a bunch of those sets being prepared for shipment.
Members of the Hawaiian Comic Book Alliance will be out in force at various events. Gordon Rider/Honolulu Star-Advertiser/Hawaii Herald artist Jon Murakami, Bandit artist Kaci Horimoto, M artist Dwayne Acoba, and Mash Monster artist Andrew Gutierrez will be drawing free sketches at Dragon’s Lair from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (The store also has several sales going on: 30 percent off all comics, 10 percent off all hardcover collections and trade paperbacks, and various other markdowns.)
Other Realms, meanwhile, will host Contraptor artist Free Isabelo, Mysterious Things artist Napua Ahina, Cacy & Kiara/Pepe the Chihuahua kalbi wrangler Roy Chang, Pineapple Man artist Sam Campos, Exillion artist DJ Keawekane, Nightmarcher artist Chris Koanui, and Game of Thrones illustrator Mog Park from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Free will be teaching workshops on drawing comics (11 a.m.-noon) and how to produce a comic, from concept to distribution (1:30-2:30 p.m.) and there will be a comic jam session with the artists from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Seats for these three sessions are limited to 20; you can reserve a spot by calling 596-8236 or emailing OtherRealms@hawaii.rr.com.
(Sudden thought: If Free Isabelo is at an event like this, does that make it a Free and Other Artists Comic Book Day? And if he was, for some reason, commissioned to draw a story based on the anime about the Iwatobi Swim Club and then held a release party, would that be a Free Free! Comic Book Day? Yes, these are the kinds of things I think about when I’m not thinking about Kirby.)
Other Realms also has giveaways and discounts, and the first 50 people will receive a FCBD Star Wars Adventures buttons. Cosplayers from League of Shadows Hawaii will be stopping by from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
A number of libraries will be hosting cosplayer appearances; check with your local branch to see who’ll be showing up, and at what times.
Kalihi-Palama Library will host a talk by freelance artist Kanila Tripp from 11 a.m. to noon. Kanila’s done work for DC, Marvel, Image, HarperCollins Publishers and Mattel Toys, and he’ll be discussing his experiences. Cosplayers will be showing up between 1 and 4 p.m. There’s also a make-and-take superhero corner bookmark activity, and a lucky-number drawing — pull a number and win a prize!
Mililani Library will have some cosplayers, and they’ll be screening the 2017 hit Wonder Woman from 1 to 3:30 p.m.
Over on Maui, Makawao Library will host local artist and educator Pam Hayes, who’ll be leading a quick workshop for children in grades 2-12 on classic graffiti art techniques, including bubble lettering embellished with drips, cracks, bricks and flames. That’s happening from 10 to 11 a.m.
And last but certainly not least, an entire comic book store will be holding its grand opening on Free Comic Book Day! In addition to the comic giveaways, the gang at Game Over Comics in Lahaina will be grilling hot dogs and hosting a tournament for the DC Universe brawler Injustice 2 from 2 to 6 p.m. Everything in the store will be 10 percent off, too.
Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments. And swing by Otaku Ohana on Facebook for any last-minute updates, too.
Draw Story: Art and Process of Visual Storytelling: If you’ve ever wondered about how your favorite comics develop into something you can read, or if you’re just a fan of work generated by our local community of comic artists, this is your show. The Honolulu Museum of Art is hosting an exhibit collecting work from a selection of artists from the Hawaiian Comic Book Alliance (including MidWeek cartoonist Roy Chang, Con-athon 2016 standard-bearer Jon Murakami, Pineapple Man creator Sam Campos and Mana Comics founder Chris Caravalho) along with several comic-inspired artists (Brady Evans, Devin Oishi). The opening reception is at the art school from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday (be advised that the art museum will be hosting its August Moon food and wine event around the same time, and the Pacific Ink & Art Expo will be going on at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall, so neighborhood parking will probably be tight), while the exhibit itself runs through Aug. 29.
Pokemon Go Fest at SALT: Coral Street sits a few blocks away from Star-Advertiser Tower in Kakaako. It’s rather industrial in nature; there are a bunch of warehouses lining it, and you can also find Highway Inn and Hank’s Haute Dogs there. Ever since Pokemon Go launched a few weeks ago, I keep seeing a few players adding confetti-spewing lures to at least eight of the area Pokestops every night and wandering over to claim the nearby Paradise Mural Gym for the glory of Team Instinct or the other two teams that aren’t Team Instinct. (Just kidding, Valors and Mystics, you know I love ya. Mostly because I’ve given up on holding a gym for more than 20 minutes at a time.) Here’s the scene on a recent night.
… yeah, it’s a nightly PokeStreetParty. And now SALT at Our Kaka’ako — the development that has Coral Street as its eastern border — is getting in on the action with a daytime party, featuring live music from DJ Romeo Valentine, a cosplay contest, an Instagram raffle, photo ops with the Hawaii Pokemon Go girls (wait, there are Pokemon Go girls now? Quite a world we live in these days …) and discounts at various SALT merchants. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.
Otaku Summer Festival: This single-day event is back for a second year with food, games and vendors (including Jon!) offering items that’ll make fans of anime, manga and Japanese culture happy. Planned entertainment includes music from The Otakus and a cosplay contest (with prizes!)
Here, have a commercial.
Video Gamers Hawaii will be feeding the shrine’s Pokestop with lures regularly and, in conjunction with the Hawaii Video Gamers League, will be hosting Street Fighter V and Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator tournaments. As for that food? Look forward to five kinds of musubi (fried rice, shoyu chicken, kabayaki eel, furikake salmon and sweet sekihan) for $2.50 each, and three kinds of bentos (chicken katsu, katsu curry, salmon yakisoba) for $7.50 each. Admission is free. Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu (1239 Olomea St.), 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.
Kenshin Part I: Origins: The live-action adaptation of Nobuhiro Watsuki’s wandering swordsman manga starring Takeru Sato as Himura Kenshin and Emi Takei as Kamiya Kaoru is making its way back to theaters courtesy of fresh stateside licensing by Funimation. Yes, it’s the same movie that first came to town via the Hawaii International Film Festival in 2013. But a) you get to see it on the big screen again and b) there are two more movies in the series that will be making their way down here in the next few months as well. That counts for something, right? In Japanese with English subtitles. General admission: $12.25. Consolidated Ward Stadium theaters, 7:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday.
Pokemon: The First Movie: It’s the first big-screen adventure for Ash, Pikachu and the rest of their PokeBuddies, the debut of Mew and Mewtwo in animated series canon, and it’s back on the big screen once again … and it’s in a venue where you can’t play Pokemon Go. (Seriously, I’m not sure if it’s just my cell phone provider or what, but I’ve never been able to get any sort of data signal in the Doris Duke Theater. It’s just too deep underground.) You can, however, cosplay and enter a trivia contest to win fabulous prizes. Sponsored by Kawaii Kon; tickets are $10 general admission, $8 Honolulu Museum of Art members. 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 15.
Elsewhere around town
Aiea Library Polar Bear Cafe & Friends Anime Club: Every month, I joke with young adult librarian Diane Masaki that she ought to change the name of the Anime Club to the Polar Bear Cafe & Friends Club, seeing as how the screening schedule for the past few months has consistently been two episodes of the 2012-2013 anime followed by two more episodes of something else. (This month’s “friends” remain the ship-gals of KanColle.) Well, it’s the end of an era, because the club will be finishing off the series at this meeting (and this running gag in the process). Oh, well. At least I can still call Diane the Face of Hawaii Ingress ™, right? At the library, 99-374 Pohai Place, where there’s still plenty of parking … and now a giant sugar molecule out front. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or email email@example.com. 3 p.m. Saturday.
Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists meets every first and third Sunday of the month … and this month, they’re back at Pearlridge Center! Happy day! Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii(Facebook login required). Next meeting: Pearlridge Downtown (Center Court area), 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.
There isn’t much time to explain why I’ve been away for so lo–
… OK, fine, so there’s that. But seriously, there isn’t much time to explain why I’ve be–
… yeah, OK, that too. But that’s really everything that’s been distracting me at the mo–
… umm, let’s just get to this month’s event calendar, shall we?
The Miyazaki Ghibli Film Festival: “But I thought we just had a Ghibli film festival in April!” you say. Ahh, but that one didn’t feature films being screened in the historic Hawaii Theatre. Nor did it feature a festival-exclusive Ghibli-themed T-shirt, a cosplay contest (2 p.m. Sunday), entertainment from the Drowning Dreamers Band (7-7:30 p.m. Friday) and Makkuro KurO.K. (7-7:30 p.m. Saturday), food vendors Pig & the Lady (Friday) and Onomono (Saturday and Sunday) or an Art+Flea-hosted room full of crafters, including friends of the blog Marisa and Carole Gee of Kawaii Mono, who’ll be selling all these Ghibli-themed charms at the event:
Related to that, Kawaii Mono is giving away a Miyazaki prize pack valued at $50; visit instagram.com/kawaiimono808 for details. (If you win, though, you’ll have to pick up your prize at the festival; keep that in mind before you enter.) Best of all, if you just want to skip the movies and enjoy the festivities, admission to that is free. You can visit the crafters in the theater’s Weyand Room from 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Keiki Con: Central Oahu’s largest con-style event is back for a second year in Mililani Mauka, and it’s boasting quite a lineup of guests in the Artist Zone: Pineapple Man creator Sam Campos, Mana Comics creator Christopher Caravalho, Gordon Rider/Ara-Rangers/Edamame Ninjas creator Jon Murakami will all be there Members of Comic Jam Hawaii will be hosting a table with drawing activities (and they’ll be drawing as well!), and Headshot Heroes will be doing a live painting demo (when he’s not giving kids a chance to visit with Elmo, of course). Kawaii Kon/Comic Con Honolulu representatives will be on hand with ticket specials, and they’ll also be giving away two 3-day passes to CCH later this month. And no mini-con would be complete without a cosplay contest, taking place at 11:45 a.m. (and if you’re interested in participating in that, be sure to check in no later than 11:30 a.m.). Food booths, entertainment, and, of course, plenty of activities for the kids round out the event. Mililani Recreation Center 7 (95-1333 Lehiwa Dr.), 10 a.m.-3 p.m. July 9.
Hawaii Geek Meet: If it’s geeky, it’ll probably show up somewhere during this 9th-annual meet-up — cosplayers, a Quidditch team, the Last Outpost and the Pacific Outpost of the 501st Legion being among those who are planning to show up. Also notable: Just four days after the game overwhelmed Android and iOS networks nationwide, there’s already a Pokemon Go farming meetup planned. Geeks are super-efficient! Kapiolani Park, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.
Comic Con Honolulu: George Takei, original Star Trek actor and overseer of everything viral on the Internet, is the headliner at this, the next stop for Con-athon 2016. Other key guests from the 22-person lineup include Sean Astin, Sam Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy; John Barrowman, Capt. Jack Harkness in Torchwood and the Dark Archer in Arrow; Mythbuster Grant Imahara; Deadpool co-creator Fabian Nicienza; and Kristin Bauer, currently starring as Maleficent in Once Upon A Time. Hawai’i Convention Center, Friday-Sunday, July 29-31.
Tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. and I are big fans of Kickstarter, the fundraising website that gives all sorts of projects, from art exhibits to state-of-the-art technological doohickeys, the chance to go from dream to reality with the help of people willing to invest a bit to make them happen.
It’s with that obsession in mind that I present to you two more Kickstarter projects in the process of pursuing funding, one local, one national. The local project is one that’s been in the works since Burl Burlingame first profiled it in the pages of the Star-Bulletin in 2007: Dragonfly, a live-action superhero show from the creator of Pineapple Man, Sam Campos. Campos has described his show in the past as “Kikaida meets X-Files,” and it’s easy to see the influence of tokusatsu (live-action superhero) series like Kikaida and Kamen Rider on the costume designs in his series. The show stars Cole Horibe as Alex Tombo, descendent of an ancient line of genetically engineered warriors that defends the world from an ancient evil that lurks within the islands. (You may have seen Horibe on TV recently, as he’s in the running in Fox’s So You Think You Can Dancewith his martial arts-infused moves.)
Campos is looking to raise $50,000 to finish production of Dragonfly’s first three episodes. With that in mind, here’s the Dragonfly Kickstarter pitch video:
… as well as a link to an interview Campos did on World of Superheroesthat explains a bit more about the project. Rewards include anything from digital downloads of the three episodes in production ($10 for one, $15 for two, $20 for all three) all the way up to an executive producer credit, a prototype helmet, signed copies of Pineapple Man issues 1-4 and a Dragonfly DVD (a price tier so high that I’m pretty sure the average Otaku Ohana reader wouldn’t be able to afford it without taking out a loan somewhere). You have until July 13 to contribute to the Dragonfly Kickstarter at http://ow.ly/bKJ4r.
On the national front, Digital Manga Publishing — which already has successfully Kickstarted a reprint of Osamu Tezuka’s Swallowing the Earth and the first run of Tezuka’s Barbara — is going back to the Tezuka well for its latest project: a full-color print run of Unico. The series, about a unicorn endowed with magical powers to help those to love him, was serialized from 1976 to 1979 in Sanrio’s Ririka magazine — yes, that Sanrio, better known the House of Hello Kitty. As such, this title is far more accessible to readers of all ages than Swallowing the Earth and Barbara, two series tailored for older readers. This would be the first translated run for the Unico manga in the U.S., but it’s not the first time Unico’s shown up in the states; most recently, Discotek released two animated features, The Fantastic World of Unico (1981) and Unico in the Island of Magic (1983), on DVD in May.
As I was writing this post, the campaign had just crossed over the $12,000 mark and appears well on its way to making its $20,500 goal well before its scheduled closing date of July 21. Once it hits that goal, it looks like there’s going to be an announcement of another Tezuka manga that’s joining the party, so stay tuned. For now, $35 lands a copy of Unico and either $10 worth of online manga at eManga.com or six issues of the Astro Boy online magazine, and the tiers scale upward from there to include stickers, T-shirts and posters. The always great Tezuka in English site has more background information about the Unico manga, and you can contribute to the Kickstarter, check out some sample translated pages and watch DMP’s pitch video at http://ow.ly/bKKqS.
Update 6/28: Original goal has been met! Now the DMP Kickstarter-teers is working on getting another manga, the “Astro Boy … if Astro was a cat” story ATOMCAT into publication. And if that gets successfully funded — and it’s about a shade over $1,000 to doing that — the push for another manga will begin. Stay tuned.
Anime around town
HEXXP: Online registration is continuing for the third annual edition of the pop culture convention, and so are the monthly giveaways. Those of you registered by the end of this month, in fact, have a chance to win a rather coveted item to anyone who’s a fan of one of this year’s guests, Nobuo Uematsu. See that Earthbound Papas CD to the right? See that silver scrawl on the upper left corner? That is, indeed, Uematsu’s signature, and if your name is drawn, you could very well win this signed CD. HEXXP is happening Oct. 20-21 at the Aloha Tower Marketplace; visit https://www.facebook.com/hexxphawaii for more information or http://www.hexxp.com to register (and, by extension, enter to win).
Pen & Ink Works: This group of anime- and manga-inspired artists is getting together for a Sketch Meet from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the McCully-Moiliili Public Library, 2211 S. King St., in the first-floor reading room. (If you’re attended the library’s Mini Con in the past two years, you know where that room is.) Bring your sketchbooks, get some drawing advice from senior members, and get ready for a fun afternoon. Visit peninkworks.wordpress.com.
MangaBento: The other group of anime- and manga-inspired artists meets from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Honolulu Museum of Art School, 1111 Victoria St., Room 200. Visit http://www.manga-bento.com for more information. Also, the group’s latest exhibit, “Nakamaboko” is on display in the art school’s second-floor gallery through July 14. I’m still working on processing the pictures I took at Sunday’s opening reception and a follow-up visit on Wednesday, but here’s a sneak Pika-peek with a ceramic piece by Chad Vilayvong.
Comic Jam Hawaii: This month’s informal gathering of comic artists is happening Wednesday from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Center Court of Kahala Mall. Artists of all skill levels are invited to draw, talk story and collaborate on cartoons like this one, also among the pieces on display at the “Nakamaboko” exhibit: