By Jason Delgado
Do you want to enjoy a convention the way our geek forefathers once did where it was all about the comics, creators, and artists? I’d say Long Beach Comic Con (LBCC) is the place for you! It’s a fun Con for people who are local to the area, and want an alternative to the blissful madness that is San Diego Comic Con. Skip the massive lines and herds of people (the turnout is good, but not to the point of being uncomfortable), and enjoy another gorgeous city like San Diego by the waterfront, in the land of Snoop Dogg and Warren G.
I think that a large portion of the general public believe that cosplay is what comic cons are all about, because I’m always asked what costume am I going to wear when the topic arises. You wanted cosplay? As the Olsen twins would say, “you got it dude!” There’s a cool costume contest on the Saturday night of the Con, but you’ll find dazzling costumes both inside and outside the convention area throughout.
As fun as people watching may be, I like to mix up my Con experience with some programming. I thoroughly enjoyed the two panels I attended featuring comic book writing superstar Mark Waid, and you can read more about that and my interview with him (click here). Another fun bit of entertainment was the Geek short film festival. There was one short I saw in particular called Prop Wars that delighted the audience with its spectacular special effects and humor, about some seemingly normal guys who have a battle royale with lightsabers and Marvel weapons such as Iron Man’s repulsors and Cap’s shield.
The exhibit hall floor featured the general mix of comic books, artwork, games, and collectibles on display for sale. Unique to Long Beach Comic Con though, it had a wrestling ring with matches to gawk at, and a space expo museum, which were nice touches that helped set itself apart from other cons. The laid back nature of LBCC makes it very easy to get artwork on commission, from a quick sketch, to a detailed masterpiece of your choosing, from the likes of talented artists such as Scott Koblish (Deadpool comics).
On the exhibit floor you can also find celebrities, such as Matty Cardarople from Stranger Things and Sam Jones from Flash Gordon and Ted 2, which is cool if you’re a fan of their work because it means easy access for pictures and autographs (for a fee), or a chat. I asked Sam Jones if he had any cool stories about the making of Flash Gordon, because I watched that movie a hundred times as a kid, and his response was, “yeah, I have a lot of fun stories…”
The highlight of LBCC for me though was to see the real life heroes of the Women of Space: Europa Clipper panel. I got goosebumps during the panel when I started to think about the importance of their un-manned space mission to explore Jupiter’s moon Europa and the ocean that potentially lies beneath the icy surface. According to the intelligent engineers of this mission, we should know if Europa is suitable for life by the mid 2020’s.
I found it interesting that when asked about hobbies, almost all of these women (panelists: Amiee Quon, Joan Stupik, Priyanka Srivastava, Richa Sirohi, Serina Diniega, Shelly Sposato, and Nora Low) enjoy the outdoors and star-gazing. It’s in our nature to look up at the stars and want to boldly go where no one has gone before, but these women are actually making it a reality. Young girls in the audience asked about how they could get jobs like this, and some of the answers were through gaining experience by joining robotic teams in high school, and internships in high school and college at companies like Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where these engineers work.
I found this panel to be quite inspirational because of the awesome career path it seems to be for women who want to make a difference through science. It had an emotional tie-in for me as well because my grandfather was an engineer at JPL who worked on the space suit, among so many other awesome things about him, that my wife and I named our son Jimmy after him. I can picture hearing the news about this mission in the future, and I’ll think back to the women behind the scenes at this panel, and my grandpa, and be so proud of the hard work they put it and ingenuity to make discoveries that can advance science and potentially change how we think about life. Comic books are fun, but these are some of the real heroes.
Thanks to LBCC for making outside the box programming like this happen!