I got a chance to speak with GB Hajim the, the big kahuna of the Hawaii Comic con. Now I am not trying to give in to the stereotype of the laid back easy going Hawaiian lifestyle, but after talking to GB Hajim I don’t think I can the guy any other way except adding that he is focused.
Now how long has the Hawaii Con been in operation?
We formed in Spring of 2013, a rag tag team of fans who wanted to create something different, and had our first awesome convention in September of the following year.
And how long have you been involved with it personally?
Just over two years.
A lot of people who want to be in the comic book business choose to become artist, writers, indie publishers, you choose Convention Promoter, why?
I had just finished my first animated feature film (Strange Frame) and was scrambling to put together a follow up movie, this idea slammed into me like rockstar taking a stage dive. Nobody had done anything like this on our island and our state, though it had an anime convention, didn’t have a con that celebrate all fandoms.
You chose an indie creation as the mascot of the Hawaii Comic Con. You don’t really see that at cons, and I think it takes a lot of chops. Why use Pineapple man as opposed to a more recognized character?
HawaiiCon is unlike any other convention out there with real experiences going with your favorite celebrity night diving with giant manta rays. We create a feeling of family at our con, and of course it is infused with the vibe of the islands of Hawaii – the power of the land. We needed a mascot to embody all that – Pineapple Man is the perfect fit, plus Sam Campos is awesome and we like awesomeness.
To read the article with Pineapple Man creator Sam Campos just click on his name.
How many months has it taken you to set up Hawaii Comic Con?
We start working on the following year’s con before the previous one has begun- about a year and a half.
And how long before the con doors open does crunch time start?
No crunch time! Really, we try to set everything up way in advance so there is no crunch. We are all volunteers, so we want to keep this fun!
So when does the intensity of managing such a large event kick in?
Last year, by the time the event started we had the team together and everything came off pretty awesome. Last year, I woke every morning at 7am, went to the beach, to go snorkeling, there was Babylon 5 actress Claudia Christian already in the water. I went out for a snorkel swim, came back in, gave morning Alohas to the cast of Stargate Atlantis hanging on the beach lunge chairs and then the day moved like clockwork, non-stop. I was running around managing the little bumps for 14 hours a day, but everything just flowed. At the end of each day, you could feel the warm afterglow of a great experience.
You are obviously a busy man, how much of your day to day goes into the logistics of setting up a comic book convention? Do you get to have a social life?
I average about 3 hours every day working on the convention. We have a team of about 8 people doing the same or similar. I HAVE A SOCIAL LIFE, I SWEAR!
What are the toughest parts of putting a con together?
Getting the word out. Locally and nationally. There are so many established, big conventions, that it is hard to compete and we have virtually no advertising budget, so mahalo for helping here!
Are there special moments that happen for you during a comic book convention.
When celebrities and fans alike give me a hugs to thanks me for a particular experience they had at HawaiiCon. Cree Summer, when she arrived and saw the view, her jaw dropped and she hugged me furiously. Esme Bianco from Game of Thrones went on our manta ray night dive, the next morning she gave me a huge hug and was bubbling with excitement about the underwater adventure. That kind of thing, every hour during the con.
What is the weirdest request any guest/celebrity/attendee has ever made at the con?
Sorry, nothing really crossed my weird threshold last year. I’ll let you know if that changes this year.
You have a lot of guests lined up for the Hawaii Comic Con, how do you go about landing them?
I work with the network of friends I’ve built from my start as a filmmaker. All of our celebrities that have come to HawaiiCon loved their experience, so those endorsements help a lot, plus the convention is at a luxury hotel on one of the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii…that doesn’t hurt.
Is there any particular guest that you haven’t gotten yet, that you really want to be there?
Patrick Stewart. Next year (2016) we’re having a celebration of Star Trek’s 50th anniversary and are pulling stars from every incarnation of the show. Captain Picard would be the cherry on top.
How do you decompress when the con is over?
Scuba diving is the best way to decompress both mentally and physically!
Where can people reach you to find out more about the con? ( twitter, instagram, etc.)
www.hawaiicon.com, @HawaiiCon, www.facebook.com/HawaiiCon, instagram.com/Hawaiicon
Before we go is there any thing you would like to have the readers know that we haven’t touched upon?
We cap attendance at 1200 so the convention has a family feeling. There are no crowds, no rush and hustle, virtually no lines and the beach is right there. We have a poolside. beachfront lu’au with hula, music and stars. It really is like no other fan experience in the world.