You can only imagine my joy when I found out that the same weekend I was going to be out in the Los Angeles area would also be when Long Beach Comic Con was scheduled. Having only a few hours to spare before I had to catch a flight back to the then winter wonderland I like to call home (Philly), I was a more than happy to spend them at a show I have never been to but had heard nothing but good things about. This is a relatively young show, having only been in existence for about three years, but it has already built up a reputation amongst the comic professionals as a courteous and well put together show that draws a decent crowd.
The show itself was held one floor down from the main entry level. The space was smaller that NYCC but larger and more dense than Wizard World Philly, maybe about the same size as Baltimore Comic Con for those of you who are familiar with the scale of those shows. Right at the entry were the big comic publisher draws in IDW, Aspen, and other major conventions regulars such as the always popular Graphitti Designs and BOOM! Studios. Once you get past the first few rows then you see more smaller press and local vendors, all of which had some pretty neat items that I had a hard time not shopping at before going home (I only had a carry-on bag). After this was a VAST artist alley featuring MANY MANY MANY artists of all experience and exposure showing their stuff to the world.
The crowd was a very good turn out too. It was not too tough to walk around but at certain areas there were choke points as fans gathered to look/buy/photograph. OH! And how could I forget that there was a fully set up wrestling ring set up on the floor too? Thats right, Mach-1 Wrestling was presenting “Wrath of Con 3” live from the show as they have every Saturday night of the convention since its start. How cool and different it that? All of the panels were held of the main entry level just upstairs and almost immediately along the corridor to the right or left. Unfortunately I only had time for one panel, The Darwyn Cooke spotlight, but the room that held the Robot Chicken and The Guild panels was large and absolutely packed.
But what about the aesthetics of the place? I was very please by what I have seen and trust me, I have been to a number of hotel basement cons in my day. Upon entering the wonderfully constructed Long Beach Convention Center we were greeted by the familiar staples of any comic convention; costumes! I knew I had arrived! As we made our way to the admission booth I had stopped to take in my surroundings. The fifty foot floor to ceiling windows on the facade of the building looked outward towards the west with an amazing view of the waterfront and marina just to the south. I will say that next to San Diego this is the second prettiest location for a convention that I have ever seen. Also, I am fairly certain that the same architects behind the San Diego Convention Center also crafted this building.
Getting to the Long Beach Convention Center itself was a breeze. I have always heard about how bad the traffic is on the west coast but heading south from North Hollywood via the 101 we ran into very little traffic and the city itself was also not that bad. The Coastal Highway had an exit along with giant traffic signs that lead us right into the parking garage, making for an easily navigable trip.
Another pleasing item that I am happy to report on is the presence of a variety of affordable food trucks just outside on an overpass overlooking the Coastal Highway as well as the marina in the distance. This also happens to be the place where I saw an awesome Indian wedding ceremony in which the bride and groom rode on an gongola belonging to the Hyatt right next to the convention center.
All in all this was a very fun convention set in a very amazing location. I hope to be lucky enough attend this show again in the future, and if you live within reasonable distance there really is no excuse as to why you would miss this.