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What started as a pretty humble show several years back has become something far larger. The Long Beach Comic-Con was once (just like the other Comic show that takes place in San Diego) a small show that only fans in the know would attend. But, there is an old saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” It may sound strange, but, growing up in the 90’s, there was a sense of euphoria that had filled the air. Comic books were at their height of popularity (and to this day, the numbers of comics sold then eclipse what is sold today), and anything that was related to comic books and their creators was a hot property.
If you were alive back then, you would remember the pure insanity that was the 90’s. Comics were on everyone’s mind, and it permeated every level of culture. Music, television, magazine stands and nearly every medium available at the time (minus movies surprisingly) had its eyes towards comic books. But, sadly, after the comic book crash of the mid-90’s, that momentum came to a halt. Just like any good thing, too much of it, and especially in the wrong hands, can leave people to leave become bitter towards it. Mass exploitation of comics and the stories in them made it a lot less special. I mean, comic books were being produced by everyone. The oversaturation of the medium killed the uniqueness that it had. It was a sad time to be honest. I mean, some of the best cartoons (like Batman:The Animated Series, and X-Men) that had come out during those times were by then already canceled. Some saw life in reboots and new comics, but, for the most part, things changed a lot. The comic crash was also responsible for the shifting of licenses and movie rights. Something that would have huge repercussions (and some which are still being felt to this day).
But, as crazy as those times were, it feels as though we have come full circle. At every corner of the globe and at all times of the year we have comic conventions and fan get together’s happening. From the grounds of California, to the far reaches of the Philippines, comic-cons and expos are all over the place. In its wake, a whole mass of new comic book fans have cropped up. Like watching the sunset, or watching the majestic bald eagle fly across mountain ranges, it is a beautiful thing. For folks like myself, it really is a re-imagining of the 90’s all over again.
Things have changed so much, but, in a lot of ways, it feels just like it did when I was younger. It makes sense too. The people that were kids back then, are now adults and are ready to lay down some money on some cool swag. And if there is one thing adults like doing, is remembering what it was like to be a kid. To feel and be back to a time when responsibility was nothing more than a word. So, comics and comic culture is an open invitation to climb through that window. While comics, like any form of art, are a reflection of the creators themselves, we now live in a day and age where comic books of all types are being produced. That longing for people to socialize with each other, and to seek out that culture brought about comic-cons and expos.
For there to be a show in Long Beach, and for there to be one as successful is a no-brainer. But, while anyone put together a show, it is the interaction of the creators with the fans themselves that lends itself to be a great show. And, that is what the Long Beach Comic Expo is. While it may have started smaller, and definitely in the shadow of the huge San Diego Comic-Con, it by no means is any less than it. This show was the third time that we have been to a Con there, and every time it has gotten bigger and bigger. This time was no exception. With more fans, artists, writers and special guests, the LB Comic Expo is a treasure trove of comic book and pop culture goodness.
This time was our first time going to the show both days, and it was exciting to see what was in store. With thousands of cosplayers flooding the convention center, it definitely is one of the more eye-catching aspects of the show. Cosplay is exciting, and it’s definitely something we’ll have to touch on in the future. But, while that was exciting to see, it was just as exciting to see our favorite comic book artists and writers in one place. From famous X-Men writer Chris Claremont to famous cosplayer Leanna Vamp, this con was once again packed to brim with comic book goodness. Besides the comics themselves, it’s those extra attractions that bring a bit of charm to the show. It’s not often one gets to see (and meet) the creator of Wolverine (Len Wein), but, when you do, it is fantastic. As the years pass, and the word of the show continues to spread, we will see more celebrities and personalities. You can count on that.
One of the more surprising corners of the show though, was the ‘Space Expo’. There has, as of recently, been a renewed interest in Space and Space Exploration. With movies such as ‘The Martian’ and ‘Gravity’, there has been quite a bit of buzz around the topic of space. While those may be exciting though, it’s the story of what is really happening in space that is even more exciting. Some of that was on display at the Space Expo, and it was great to see. People were treated to reproductions of space suits, astronaut tools, 3D printing techniques and a very heartwarming tribute to the crew of Space Shuttle Columbia. The tribute, and the way it was handled was very welcome, and we hope that this is a staple of the show for years to come.
While comics are certainly the most obvious draw, there is an equal amount of attention given to television shows (such as the Walking Dead) and to gaming. Like any of these shows, it’s easy to walk around with your head spinning from info overload. But, that is what makes this show so awesome. There are plenty of things to see, and it’s not so overwhelming that you become frustrated from not being able to move around. With another show around the corner though, we are sure to be welcomed with plenty of awesome things to see. This makes it feel a lot like the era that I grew up in. It is nice seeing a whole new generation feel the excitement of being a kid.
Cons are always exciting, and you never know what amazing thing are in store. This next one, if it is anything remotely close to this previous show, is sure to be special. With comic book movies out in full force, there is a feeling of excitement in the air again. And in a lot of ways that is a testament to the people that run the show, and the staff that work it. Give the people what they want, and put it in a nice location that folks feel happy to go to, and you have a real winner. It’s fantastic to see the LB Comic Expo growing as much as it is. Keep on keeping on and we’ll see you at the next Long Beach Comic Expo.
Words and Photos By Daniel Navarrete
For more information on The Long Beach Comic Expo, check out their website at http://www.longbeachcomicexpo.com