This past weekend the 2016 Long Beach Comic Expo was home to fans of comic books, sci-fi, video games, and pop culture. The little brother to the larger Long Beach Comic Con that happens in September is no pushover as it continues to grow. Housed in the Long Beach Convention Center, LBCE now takes over two full exhibit halls full of comic book vendors, cosplayers, celebrities, writers, artists, and exhibitors. The expanded venue helped to satisfy the droves of fans that enjoyed the two-day event.
Southern California is now home to many pop culture/comic book conventions. From the weekly Frank and Son Collectible Show in City of Industry to the annual behemoth Comic-Con International in San Diego, conventions are as popular and as accessible as ever. LBCE represents the best that smaller cons have to offer without the Hunger Games-like approach to ticketing of CCI. Or the immense venue packed like sardines.
Over the weekend, LBCE provided a fan-friendly environment with the type of talent reserved for higher profile cons. The lineup included such celebrity guests as Peter Shinkoda and Tommy Walker of the hit Netflix series Daredevil, legendary comic book writer Chris Claremont, whose work includes X-Men’s Days of Future Past, husband-and-wife artist-writer team of Harley Quinn Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, and Fabian Nicieza, the co-creator of Deadpool, whose live-action movie adaptation has become a blockbuster hit.
Cosplay continues to grow in popularity and LBCE made sure to invite some of the most prolific cosplayers like Ivy Doomkitty, LeeAnna Vamp, Genevieve Marie, and many others to represent the creative and skilled art of designing a costume of your favorite comic book, animation, video game, or fantasy character and bringing them to life. Attendees also showed off their cosplay skills in the costume contest or simply walking the floor. There were plenty of Deadpools and Harley Quinns to be found.
The layout of the con was well-conceived, wide aisles, an artist alley, a cosplay corner, a gaming area, all just steps away from each other. No need to swim through a sea of sweaty bodies, especially on Sunday when attendance is traditionally lower. The only negative was the lack of sufficient lighting in certain corners leaving some cosplayers with tables virtually in the dark.
There was a good showing of comic book vendors because after all, comic books are still at the heart of the LBCE. The emphasis remains on sequential art and the row after row of comic book artists was a testament to that. The lines to see Amanda Conner, Jae Lee, Bob Layton, Chris Claremont, and others were relatively long but anxious fans didn't seem to mind.
While the 2016 LBCE may have been the biggest of its seven-year history, it remains a friendly, comfortable, pretension-free event for the whole family. With a mixture of informative panels, popular celebrities, talented writers and artists, and so much more, Long Beach Comic Expo continues to be one of Southern California's convention jewels.