By Jason S. Yadao
If April was the month of anime, with Kawaii Kon and Consolidated Theaters' Studio Ghibli Festival capturing the attention of local otaku, then May has to be the month where comic culture takes center stage. The Hawaii Comic & Toy Expo kicks it off, Amazing Hawaii Comic Con puts a nice little bow on it, and there's Free Comic Book Day and a smattering of comic artist appearances in between to keep us all busy.
But that's not to say it's all comics; anime/manga fans have some events to look forward to this month as well -- a new movie, idkwhat2wear's annual clearance sale and the return of an annual festival on Maui are just some of the events to look forward to in the next few weeks. I'll go into greater detail on some of these coming attractions in future posts, but there's a really busy weekend coming up, so let's get around to that right now:
Islandwide Spring Crafts and Food Expo: Otherwise known as "the craft fair where idkwhat2wear unloads ALL THE THINGS." See, every year there's one show where Karl Miyashiro and Terri Dux blow out their discontinued T-shirt styles at $6 per shirt. These are styles that usually sell for $19-$21 apiece, so yeah, that's a pretty healthy chunk of savings change. This photo posted to the idk Facebook page reveals they have ... oh, a few shirts.
Please save Terri from impending cotton-crushing doom and buy some shirts; they'll be at booth 705. While you're at the show, go visit Kawaii Mono with their line of origami jewelry, charms and more at booth 408. Admission: $5 general, $4 military families and seniors ages 65 and older, free for children ages 13 and younger. (Be warned: With The Book of Mormon still at the concert hall and comedian Kevin Hart in concert at the arena Saturday and Sunday, parking in the neighborhood is going to be tight.) Blaisdell Exhibition Hall (777 Ward Ave.); 4-9 p.m. today, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.
Hawaii Comic & Toy Expo: Yes, there will be comics, toys and collectibles being sold by more than 40 dealers. But there will be special featured guests in the house, too. Guest of honor Scott Williams is a local boy and University of Hawaii alumnus who's worked as an artist and inker for Marvel and DC, frequently collaborating with talents like Jim Lee and Frank Miller. Joining him at the show will be local artists Jon Murakami, Kevin Sano, Christopher Caravalho, Andy Lee and HeadShot Heroes. Admission: $3. Ala Moana Hotel (Hibiscus Ballroom), 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.
Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists meets every first and third Sunday of the month at Pearlridge Center; this time around, they'll be in the center court on the Downtown side of the mall. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii (Facebook login required). Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Also worth noting: The Friends of Aiea Library will be holding a book sale at the library (99-374 Pohai Place) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; there will be plenty of parking. And where there may not be anything directly related to otaku culture at this year's Hawaii Book and Music Festival, at the Civic Grounds near Honolulu Hale downtown, it's still worth checking out anyway. Because local literature and music never go out of style. That runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Elsewhere around town
Maui Matsuri: A kickoff celebration for Maui's annual celebration of Japanese culture -- featuring taiko performances, karate demonstrations, coloring contests and Hello Kitty -- will be at the Queen Kaahumanu Center (275 W. Kaahumanu Ave., Kahului) from 6:30 to 9 p.m. today. It's just a little taste of what will be happening a little over a week from now at UH-Maui College, with food booths, entertainment, and contests for cosplayers, video gamers and artists inspired by the anime/manga art style. Maui residents, go check out mauimatsuri.com and register for some of those contests now! Presented by the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui. Saturday, May 7, 2-9 p.m.
Free Comic Book Day: It's almost time for the Annual Comic Book Summer Blockbuster Movie to be released to millions of eager American fanpeeps (*cough*goTeamIronMan*cough*), which means it's also time for your annual enticement to visit your local comic book store/distributor of choice and pick up a whole stack of free books. Various locations statewide; Saturday, May 7.
Mother's Day: Don't forget about your mom. She helped shape you into the person you are today. Also, eat your veggies and don't slouch, dear. Sunday, May 8.
Free Isabelo appearances: The founder of Live Free Die Free (LFDF) Comics; creator of The Contraptor, a steampunk-inspired tale about a Secret Service agent looking for his brother's murderer and the conspirators behind President Lincoln's assassination; and artist behind the "Steam Royals" series of pop culture icons reimagined with a steampunk twist will be appearing at Other Realms (1130 Nimitz Hwy, suite C140) on Free Comic Book Day and on Wednesday, May 18, and Enjoy Comics in Hilo (45 Pohaku St., unit 201) on Sunday, May 15. He'll also be at Amazing Hawaii Comic Con ... see below for some more details about that show.
Joe Rubenstein on Maui: The longtime artist/inker best known for his work on Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's four-issue Wolverine miniseries in 1982 and his inking on The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe for more than 20 years will be visiting Maui Comics and Collectibles in Kahului (333 Dairy Road, unit 102). Get your autographs and commissions there! Wednesday, May 18.
Project Itoh: Harmony: In this theatrical anime being released stateside by Funimation Films, a mass suicide has rocked the globe, but there's something about the motives behind the event that seem eerily similar to what Tuan Kirie and her friends attempted when they were teens. Is her old friend Miach Mirie behind the deaths? And if so, how could she be, considering she supposedly died all those years ago? Hmm. Consolidated Ward Stadium 16 theaters, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, and Wednesday, May 18. (I must say, May 18 is shaping up to be a really busy day.)
Cosplay Figure Drawing: Join Mangabento's Devin Oishi as he leads a six-session series on figure drawing with a key twist: All of the models will be cosplayers. Students can cosplay and interact with the models as well. It's a fun, informative way to brush up on skills including visual measurement, selecting materials and anatomy. Cost: $150; preregister at https://secure.honolulumuseum.org/auxiliary/Reserve.aspx?p=260. Honolulu Museum of Art School (1111 Victoria St.), room 200; 6-9 p.m. Fridays starting May 20 through June 24.
Amazing Hawaii Comic Con: It's the second stop of the unofficial official Con-athon 2016! This year's edition may not have Stan Lee, but it does count among its guests Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, DC Comics everything extraordinaire Jim Lee, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman, and amazing/astonishing/uncanny/fill-in-your-own-adjective-here X-Men writer Chris Claremont. They're also targeting us otaku this year, with guests who've done voice work for Dragon Ball Z (Sean Schemmel, the voice of Goku! Chris Sabat, the voice of Vegeta! Chuck Huber, the voice of Android 17!) and Street Fighter. Hawai'i Convention Center, Friday, May 20-Sunday, May 22.