On the last weekend of October, I made it out to the second annual Long Beach Comic Con. It’s shaping up to be a very artist–, writer– and dealer-focused convention.
A couple of years ago, Wizard World Los Angeles seemed to be all about people looking for deals on comics and collectibles (in which case, why not just go to Frank and Son or the Shrine?). When the show resurfaced in Anaheim this year, it seemed to be all about the celebrity autographs.
If you just want to see the photos, check out the photo set on Flickr. Otherwise, read on!
The first thing everyone noticed was the row of themed cars out in front of the convention center: A Camaro painted up as Bumblebee, a replica of KITT from Knight Rider, cars from less geeky shows like Starsky and Hutch and (IIRC) Magnum, P.I.…and a car that had been modified to look like a Rebel Alliance small fighter, complete with an R2 unit!
The main floor at Long Beach was bigger this year than last, though nowhere near as big as Anaheim. Unlike Anaheim, they used most of their space.
All the publishers were clustered near the entrance, with Aspen and BOOM! the most prominent, followed by Top Cow, Image and Avatar in the next row with other small press, along with the celebrity autograph area off to one side.
The rest of the floor was structured with a huge Artist’s Alley at its core, surrounded by retailers on either side. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that it was two Artist’s Alley areas with dealers wrapped around them in a sort of F shape.
If you went to Anaheim Comic-Con this year, remember how big the celebrity signing area was, and how small the artists’ area was? Flip it. My gut instinct says that there were more artists with tables here than there were in San Diego, but then it could just be that they’re a bigger percentage of the smaller space.
The Southern California-based comics publishers seem to have really gotten behind this convention. BOOM!, Aspen, Image, Top Cow and IDW all had booths and exclusives, and I remember seeing Avatar and Zenescope as well. Several of them hosted panels talking about current and upcoming books.
DC Comics actually had a couple of panels too, though they weren’t in the program. I only found out about the DC Universe panel from the announcement over the PA system. They announced major panels and signings as they started, which was a big help…but of course it only works up to a certain size convention.
Because I was only there for one day and had plans for the evening, I ended up making a lot of trade-offs. Especially after I found out how far away the panels were. Last year, the panel rooms were directly upstairs from the entrance. This year you had to walk outside, around the corner and down the street to another entrance below the Long Beach Terrace Theater in order to get to the rooms. The walk wasn’t hard, but it took time.
In the end, I only went to one event: the surprise DC Universe panel, which turned out to be mainly a Q&A session with Eric Wallace, J.T. Krul, Dustin Nguyen, Bob Wayne, and (I think) Byran Miller. Some items I thought interesting:
- J.T. Krul got really depressed when writing The Rise of Arsenal.
- He also gave the Titans Tower fan site a shout-out as a great reference.
- At least some writers are aware that no matter how obscure a character they pick for a story, there will be someone out there who is a huge fan, has every appearance, and knows more about the character than they possibly could.
- 50 Questions in 50 Minutes with Mark Waid, because I wanted to track down Mike Mignola and get him to sign The Amazing Screw-on Head for Katie, and was afraid that if I waited until after the Mark Waid panel, I wouldn’t be able to catch him before…
- The Mike Mignola Spotlight, which I passed up because I wanted to have time for a full circuit of the main floor. If I’d been able to stay through 7:00, I probably would have gone, but as it was, I had to leave by 5:00 or so.
I don’t know how I’m going to manage a single day in San Diego next year!
Signings and Swag
Highlights: Mike Mignola, as I mentioned earlier. I picked up a copy of Scott Kolins’ variant cover for The Flash #4 for less than cover price(!), but passed on the $10 Project Comic-Con variant of Velocity #2. I got Joe Benitez to sign Lady Mechanika #0 and draw a quick sketch of the character (shown here). I also ran into Jay Faerber at the Image booth & talked a bit about Noble Causes and Dynamo 5, but didn’t have anything for him to sign.
Speaking of Lady Mechanika, it looks to be a really interesting series. Sort of a steampunk cyborg detective with a mysterious past — so mysterious that she doesn’t remember it herself!
Crowds and Costumes
The crowds were light, but the floor was always busy. I didn’t see any huge lines comparable to last year’s Geoff Johns & Peter Tomasi signing, but I didn’t get over to the autograph area at all, so I may just not have noticed. It was a good balance between an active convention and being able to actually talk to people in the industry.
I think there were more people in costumes this year than last, though I couldn’t say whether it’s due to the con being more established, or it being the day before Halloween. I definitely saw some familiar faces (Valerie Perez as Zatanna, for instance). There were also several families with group costumes. I remember seeing a Ghostbusters family (mom, dad, and ~5-year-old). Another where the mother was dressed as sexy Boba Fett and the ~12-year-old daughter was an incredibly detailed Ahsoka from Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
There were at least two remote-controlled R2D2 robots rolling around the floor. I lucked out when I went to drop some stuff at my car: the owner of one of the R2s was loading it in the back of his SUV, and he’d removed the head so that it would fit. I asked, and he let me take a look at the inside, though I couldn’t see much since he’d already lifted it into the car. I don’t know why it seemed odd that it would be built on a wooden frame.
Verdict: Long Beach Comic Con is definitely worth an annual visit for Southern California comic book fans!
Hulk want more photos!