Over the weekend the Long Beach Comic Con 2015 was back in town for its fall show and it seemed that attendance was larger than last years show. The show has been steadily growing each year in both the fall show and the spring expo event.
This year there was quite a number of changes for the show and while there were a few logistical issues the show overall had a lot of improvements. The first big improvement was the layout of the show floor. Instead of having long isles it was more of an island setup for the floor that allowed better access to the tables and booths but also help prevent congestion in them. Another very good change was having areas with themes. There was an animation island area, a kid friendly area, cosplay area. One of the best things about Long Beach Comic Con is that most of the floor is devoted to artist alley that has a very diverse gathering of both new talent and established professionals.
With a much more laid back feeling that the show has it gives you a great chance to spend time talking to creators with a much more intimate show that is a lot more like the shows in the past before the geek convention scene exploded. Nearly all of the floor space was filled and this allowed the large crowds that were on Saturday to never feel like it was overcrowded like some other shows.
The convention continues to improve on their programming at the show and this year was some of the best. Dave Petersen of Mouse Guard fame had a retrospective panel to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the book.
Adam Kubert had a panel that discussed the Joe Kubert School and some recent graduates to talk about what the school is about.
The Columbia Memorial Space Center and NASA’S JPL had some great panels with real rocket scientist and engineers that gave fascinating insight to the space program.
There were many panel to choose from this year and overall the programming was one of the strongest selection that the convention has done. I hope that they are able to keep improving the quality of the panels.
There were a few issues that did plague the show. On Saturday was the larger attendance of the show and they seemed unable to process pre-registered attendees very well. I had to go back to my car at about 11:00am and the show had been open an hour and the line went out the convention center and all the way to Ocean Blvd and beyond.
I hate to say it but this is not the first time that the show has had issues checking attendees in. But as the show gets bigger they should have had a better system to handle the crowds. I had friends who had not bought advance tickets and it only took them about 10 minutes to get in while another friend had pre-registered and had to wait in line for nearly an hour. I went to a panel at 12:30 and the pre-register line was still out the door. To be fair I did see one of the staff members handing out wrist bands to people who had printed out their tickets to help alleviate the line but I think it was too little too late at that point. Hopefully they will have a better system in place before the next show.
While the programming was very good they need to keep to the schedule better. None of the panels I went to started on time and they needed to have a staff member keep the panel posted on the time they have left. So that there is enough time to get people in and out for the next panel.
The costume contest seemed a bit unorganized and there were some big problems with it. First the room was way too small and was filled before the posted time of opening at 7:00pm I got there a little before 7:00 and there was already no seating and people were standing against the walls. The room was filled beyond a safe capacity and had the fire marshal seen it they would have shut it down. Cosplay is very popular now and while it was great that they had a contest they are going to need a room that is least 3 times larger than the one that they used this year.
The show started late and that can be expected due to the nature of the event. The lighting was terrible for the show. It was either non-existent or colored lighting that didn’t do any of the contestants costumes any favors. It was very difficult to see a number of the contestants because of the lighting. They need to have some white spotlights next time and ditch the colored lighting for the contestants.
On the plus side the two host were quite good and they made sure that when younger contestants came on stage they gave a signal for the crowd to encourage them and I was very impressed by that. The other plus was that it seemed that anyone could enter the contest and that was nice because there were contestants that may have not been the most professional costumes but it allowed them to participate and the audience was very receptive to every one of them. I did not stay to see who won because after standing nearly two hours it was difficult to take much more at that point.
Anther issue was the upstairs entrance to the show floor. There was a small entrance area that was miserable to navigate because the way it was set up it funneled the large crowds that were both entering an exiting at the same time. What they should have down was have one way for entering and another way for exiting out. The area was alway congested and hard to navigate even on Sunday with a lighter crowd than on Saturday where it was a real mess. I understand the idea of what they were trying to do but it didn’t work well at all.
Overall there were more positive things about the show than the negatives. The one thing I do like about the show is that the promoters actually listen to both the exhibitors and the attendees about the show and each year there have been great improvements of the show. Martha and Mike who oversee the show for Mad Event Management really put on a great show and really care about nurturing it into a better show each year. Putting on a convention like Long Beach Comic Con and Expo is no easy task and have to credit them for making this show unlike any other convention that I attend. While the show has grown they have not lost the thing that makes is so great to attend and that is the comfortable atmosphere of the show.
I will be posting more photos and coverage of some of the panels in the near future. Keep checking back for them soon.