Sorry for the late post about the Long Beach Comic Expo from couple of weeks ago but I wanted to let the show sit with me a little longer this time. I was only able to attend the show this year on Saturday because of a family trip to Universal Studios on Sunday (I’ll be posting my thoughts on that trip soon). The one great thing about the Long Beach Comic Expo (and the show in the fall) is that you can easily do the show in a day and that is where the show has struggled a bit over the years. While they continue to get very good guest for the show it’s the panels where the show hasn’t seemed to find its groove. The one thing that they have done very well is get the local Girl Scout Troops involved in the show with both a booth to sell their cookies but a special room dedicated to panel just for them. I love that they have successfully grown the attendance of young girls to the show and hopefully gain some new comic book readers to the fold. I would also be nice to see if they could do the same outreach to local Boy Scout groups and schools.
The show was a little off this year due to the wild weather that Southern California has been experiencing this season. It didn’t rain as much on Saturday but it did seem to affect the attendance somewhat. Instead of the big morning rush, it seemed to have a more steady flow of attendees throughout the day. The dealers that I spoke with seemed to be doing fairly well at the show. While there was a good amount of dealers the LA area has really struggled with bringing new venders to the area shows (with the big exception being WonderCon). The problems do not seem to be the shows themselves but the fandom of the LA area. WonderCon seems to be the only show that has had huge success in the LA area with many shows either abandoning the area (Wizard) or shows that did well in the past but now struggle (The Los Angeles Comics and Sci-Fi Show).
I will give the organizers of the Long Beach Comic Con and Expo that they have not only stuck with the show but are always trying to improve it. One thing that I think that they need to go back to is having the expo be a one day show in the spring and the fall show be the two-day event. The problem with the spring show is that it’s so close to many other show and some on the same weekend but there are big shows right around the corner such as Emerald City in Seattle Washington in early March and WonderCon at the end of March that can affect a smaller show like Long Beach.
The one thing that was really strong at this show was the strong guest line up at the spring show to date. While there are alway great local talent they got some really solid guest at this show. There was Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones and Aquaman), Michael Golden (Micronauts), Matt Haley (Wonder Woman), Humberto Ramos (Champions)
Mike Zeck (Secret Wars and The Punisher)
Tony Harris (Starman & C-3PO)
George Perez (Has drawn every DC and Marvel character) He had a line the whole day and was drawing and signing everything. This was the best picture I could get because he was so busy.
Todd Nauck (Spider-Man)
Amy Reeder and Brandon Monclare (Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur)
They are trying to beef up their panel selection but I do feel that one of the problems is that the rooms are not very well located to the exhibitor floor and while there are some signage up there needs to be more staff or volunteers to help attendees to find the rooms and better signs. The panels this show had some real stand outs and my favorite one was the Diversity in Comics moderated by Amanda Meadows with Jules Rivera, Yehudi Mercado, Lonnie Millsap, Robb Armstrong, and Wil Panganiban that discussed their struggles and successes of self publishing and working in the corporate world. Each panelist had many stories to share about both their work and how they love to do what they do. The only slight disappointment with the panel was that it would have been nice to have a Q&A at the end of the panel. I was however fortunate enough to talk after the panel to each of them and discuss both their work and diversity and had some really thought-provoking discussions. I will be reviewing each of their works very soon.
Cosplay was in full effect again at the show and while there was not as many as in past shows I do believe that the weather played a part in that. There were some really original and new cosplayers at the show and here are a few of my favorites.
Overall it was a good show and while there are still some growing pains for the show that need to be addressed the staff of the show does a good job. One thing that I would like to see is that they move the show back to the front area of the convention center that does seem to have a better feel to the show. The back area has two big issues one that cell phone reception is terrible and that is solely the problem of the Long Beach Convention center itself. They try to sell overpriced wi-fi instead of having cell phone repeaters in the building. The other issue is that they way that the back exhibit floor and panel rooms have simply dreadful lighting that sadly is difficult to photograph anything well. The convention does improve each show but I would like a bit more forward momentum to the shows. They need to work on getting more venders and more companies to exhibit at the show. They also need to do a better job of promoting the show because there is very little reach outside the people who already know about the show. They should work with local promoters, radio and television to get the general public aware of the show. Long Beach is a great location for the show and there is a lot to do and see around the convention center. The show continues to be good but needs to get better.