Comic Con-fusion: Hoku Rebrands, Amazing Remains
The people behind Kawaii Kon have changed the name of Hoku Kon, their spin-off event in July, to Comic Con Honolulu, not to be confused with newcomer Amazing Hawaii Comic Con, arriving in September the week after the second annual Hawaii Con on the Big Island.
Perhaps it's good that Oni-Con Hawaii fizzled out after one year (in the wake of the fizzled HEXXP expo), since it's starting to get hard to keep these events straight.
With the massive success of Kawaii Kon, which has largely focused on its roots as a Japanese animation convention, its organizers announced Hoku Con last July, casting a wider net to include comic books and pop culture fandom. They held a preview event in December, and momentum was building, with announced guests Kelly Hu, Mira Furlan, Sean Maher, Colin Ferguson and Erin Gray. It was described as as "Hawaii's comic con."
But as I noted when I blogged about the Amazing event, "comic con" is a generic term, even though it's most often associated with the massive event held in San Diego every summer.
It's a powerful enough brand that people were describing the Amazing Hawaii Comic Con event at the Hawaii Convention Center (starring, among others, comic book legend Stan Lee) as if it was affiliated with Comic Con International, even though it's part of a separate series of events held across the country by Jimmy Jay of Jay Company Comics. The announcement of the Amazing event seemed to suddenly seize the "first Hawaii comic con" crown.
While Hoku Kon's name change to Comic Con Honolulu takes it back, it's certainly going to cause some confusion.
"It's run by the same people, it's just going under this new name to make sure people know what the event is," said Kawaii Kon and Comic Con Honolulu co-chair Faisal Ahmed in an interview with anime guru (and former Ka Leo colleague) Jason Yadao. "The reason we didn't call it 'Hawaii Comic Con' or 'Comic Con Hawaii' was just because there's already Hawaii Con, there's Amazing Hawaii Comic Con, and we wanted to show that we're doing something, again, more local."
The local angle is definitely one Kawaii Kon organizers are leaning on.
I only found out about the new name for Hoku Kon today, at the Kawaii Kon booth at the Hawaii Book and Music Festival (check out my photos from the festival on Flickr). I made the mistake of confusing Comic Con Honolulu with the Amazing Hawaii Comic Con, and was promptly corrected in unison.
"This is the local comic con," they said. "That other one is coming from Arizona."
A fair point, coming from an incumbent that has stood the test of time for a decade now. But even Kawaii Kon was brought to Hawaii from the mainland, albeit in part by former Hawaii resident Stan Dahlin (with partners Marlon Stodghill and Scott Richardson).
A long-lost FAQ page on the Kawaii Kon website asked, "Why bring an anime convention to Hawaii?"
"Being a transplanted local boy living far away from home for a better part of a decade or more, I'm very proud to be hosting this show in my home state," Dahlin wrote. "It is fair time that a west or even an east coast style anime con came to the people of Hawaii instead of the other way around. I can then invite all my mainland friends (some of them are in the anime industry) to come and visit."
Whether for the love of anime or comic books or pop culture, wherever the origin, here's hoping all of these events can be the inclusive celebrations of shared passions they're intended to be.