Long Beach Comic Con (and a heat wave) happened over Labor Day weekend this year, drawing large crowds of Star Wars, space and science fiction, comics, and cosplay fans.
One of the benefits of attending a small convention like this was how it easily became heavily cosplay centered. Cosplayers were able to wear their elaborate costumes without worry of being stepped on or run over in the hallways.
The convention took their support and encouragement even further with a dedicated section specifically for cosplay. This area included well-known cosplayers, designers, and charity organizations that utilize cosplayers for charity work. There was also a Bernina sewing machine section to help promote their sewing machines and their use in making costumes.
Another room was dedicated to cosplay panels that ranged from cosplay basics to body positive (i.e., cosplay is for everyone). There was also a cosplay costume show that showcased fifty of the best cosplay costumes for the year. In addition to the costume contest, Long Beach Comic Con also held a fashion show. It showcased nerd chic and current fashion trends by up and coming designers. From costumes to dresses, participants were able to showcase their creations for all to see.
Although a smaller convention, the exhibit hall focused on small press and budding artists. This made it possible for easy perusal of talents and merchandise. Many of the artists and writers in attendance were willing to spend time with other aspiring writers, artists, and fans to explain and show their artistic process and what inspired them. Notably, I was able to spend some time with Dave Crosland, current artist for Invader Zim and horror artist.
The space expo center that had an interactive Mars landscape, NASA suit, and rover that were used to draw attention toward high-quality STEM education. It was set up to draw interest and inspire budding scientists and engineers at the con. There professionals on hand to explain the science and technology behind the Mars Rover and the science and math that went into creating these things.
William Shatner was one of the main celebrity draws to Long Beach Comic Con this year. He conducted a thirty-minute panel and signed items at the celebrity line. Arthur Suydam, artist know for Marvel Zombies and more, had one of the larger booths showcasing his work – which I couldn’t pass up picking up for myself! There were also plenty of independent booksellers in attendance.
Outside of the convention hall was a small car show. Included in the displays was a Batmobile posed with the police car that was hijacked by the Joker. Of course, it wouldn’t be a nerd convention without a DeLorean and Jurassic Park Jeeps emitting dinosaur shrieks also set up.
However, there were some downsides to Long Beach Comic Con. Thankfully, a few of which the convention itself had little to no control over. Due to California being in the middle of a brutal heat wave (with humidity), the exhibit hall and some of the panels became obscenely warm and uncomfortable. The air conditioner eventually kicked on and made things more comfortable, but for awhile it was almost unbearable.
In conjunction with it being hot, the safety precautions at this convention were admirable, but also incredibly frustrating. To get into the hall, attendees had to stand in a long line outside to be searched. Though security was incredibly helpful and nice (which isn’t always the case at conventions), it was extremely annoying to walk out to the food trucks only to have to stand in line again to go back inside. In addition to that, there were many restrictions on what could and could not be brought into the convention center, which slowed down the security process too.
Understandably, there were also additional restrictions on cosplay weapons as well. Mock firearms were prohibited, as well as weapons made out of certain materials. Though LBCC did warn cosplayers ahead of time on their website, quite a few people were turned away at the door because of their cosplay weapons.
Overall, it was a fun convention for people looking for a convention focused more on specific subsets of nerd culture, such as horror comics, art, fashion, and cosplay.