If San Diego International Comic Con is the Yale or Harvard of Comic Cons, then Long Beach Comic Con is definitely a commuter school. With its accessibility, ticket prices, and casual atmosphere, Long Beach is more for everyone than what the larger cons claim to be.
Located in the heart of downtown Long Beach, next to the hustle and bustle of the Pike Outlets, LBCC manages to draw fervent con goers and the general passerby. The large open spaces outside the con and a beautiful water fountain with the city as its backdrop are vital points for cosplayers and photographers, accessible to civilians without badges to gawk upon huge costumed play date.
Many consider LBCC to be their anniversary convention that fueled their continuous con-going. And understandably so. Even the atmosphere of LBCC doesn’t carry the same pretentious prestige of something larger like San Diego’s International Comic Con. Even for myself, this con experience was delightfully stress free.
The exhibit halls are easy enough to zigzag through for all your shopping needs (save for one incident where I couldn’t find one particular table for the life of me). Professional and amateur artists were set up in the middle and cosplayers and bigger vendors lined the sides. Navigating was made easy with huge banners that hung from the exhibit hall ceiling. However, LBCC lacked the bigger vendors that gave most cons that sense of exclusivity. And it was both surprising and unsurprising that some vendors did not return this year.
LBCC boasts an impressive lineup for their celebrity guests. From the cast of Firefly to Kevin Conroy, the celebrity guests had their own corner that was also accessible for passerby to snap a quick, blurry shot of their favorite celebrity. Interestingly enough, the equal ground made the guest signings seem more community driven than money hungry.
Adding more tables around the food trucks this year, LBCC appears to take their guests into consideration from the outside. Not when it comes to panels, however. The lines, though not as large as SDCC’s monster Hall H line, lack the organization of other cons’ panels. And for some reason, staff seem to lack a standard, telling some guests one thing or another— specifically, being told press can return to a panel room after it clears out, then being kicked out. Or being redirected into a literal closet when looking for a specific panel room. Though it’s understandable that the pained points mostly fall through the small size of the panel rooms, the volunteer staff, and the security for hire, it’s upsetting to be told they “do not accommodate for press or media” while the staff person proceeds to close the door on your face.
Despite that, did I have fun? Yes. Will I return? Yes. Could it have been better? Yes.
LBCC may not have amounted to the craze of larger cons, but it is clearly growing rapidly and will only continue to do so. For now, it remains a stress free commuter spot for those waiting to take on Stan Lee’s Comikaze in October. And while it remains to many a favorite convention due to its casualness and smaller attendance size that allows for friends to meet up, LBCC at its core uneventful and purposeless.
And the cellphone reception is just like the con staff: unreliable and curt.
Check out these pictures of the con, provided by Rock Me, Amadeus Photography: