Over the past decade those into comic books and superheroes have moved from the basements of their moms and the confines of comic book stores and into the mainstream. However, there are still a lot of aspects of “geekdom” that aren’t widely accepted. Bronies are still looked at as a little odd by outsiders, cosplayers are questioned by those who don’t understand why an adult would want to dress as Link, and those who play Magic the Gathering are viewed more or less like pariahs by the majority. While being a geek is “cool” for those who like Thor and, come next year, Deadpool, there are still odds and ends of the nerd spectrum that are still viewed as totally and absolutely weird.
That’s why places like conventions exist and offer more than Marvel and DC appreciation. When I think of the one down in San Diego I think of money and how much they make in those four days. When Comikaze rolls around I think of convenience and family because a lot of strollers run the floor. Then there’s Long Beach Comic-Con. This was my first year heading down there and all I could think of as I circled the booths time and time again was community.
Long Beach set out and accomplished what a lot of similar conventions do. They had a handful of indie artists, great exhibitors, and screenings set up. A variety of indie artists and networks stood out, like the WWII-era City of Devils complete with mummies, Boston Metaphysical Society (which is for those who love steampunk and The X-Files), the Indie Comic Network (which offers not only free comic books but also podcasts), and Emet Comics (a place that’s all about celebrating female writers). For those into kicking back with a screening, Non-Stop to Comic-Con and The Bigfoot Hunters were just a couple to check out.
One could get quite exhausted trying to take in all the booths chock full of knick-knacks and homemade delights. Jeff Victor was one that stood out with his art that was a new take on pop culture, as well as The Bob’s Burgers Live one. The only downside of that one was their lack of small tees. Not like I’m holding a grudge or anything.
Other than the cosplayers — which we’ll get to in a second — my favorite thing about Long Beach Comic-Con was the high number of black people in the booths. Being a black nerd isn’t as uncommon as it used to be, but it still makes you smile when you see someone of your same skin tone representing at a con. Shout out to those behind the comics Invictus, The Legend of the Mantamaji, and Zero Squared by Zero Squared. Another special one to Erica of Yeah Write for taking a minute to tell me about a great site for “writers who blog and bloggers who write.”
Then of course there were the panels. Nerdstrong was one I had to check out because they’re friends to the site and they’re the ones who really pushed the community idea, well, strong. That’s what their gym is all about and in the end they’re not only getting fitter, but as Andrew said during the panel, “becoming better nerds.” Other great panels during the weekend were “Planning a Martian Roadtrip,” “LGBT Issues in Genre Fiction,” and “Adventures in Voice Acting.”
Now onto my favorite thing about conventions, big or small: cosplaying. I’ve likely lamented here before how much I wish I could do this. Not like I’m embarrassed to go out in costume, I just don’t have the drive or mind to create something as great as what I’ve seen. Some of the most notable and personal favorites of the day were the young lady dressed perfectly like a Misfit from Jem and the Holograms and the woman who gave R2-D2 a glam makeover. Other greats were the Kill Bill pair as well as the Disney princesses. Women weren’t the only ones showing up looking great; there were also a couple of families who killed it — the father and son who gave Wreck-It Ralph a Walking Dead twist, the gangster take on Star Wars, and the family of five who went full on Mad Max. There were also a couple of men who made Joker proud.
Walking around you saw friends reunite, obviously only seeing each other at events like these, families showing their best side, and couples coming together in the name of creating the perfect cosplay. All of that, the graciousness of the people in the booths, and the way the panels came across made it clear that community was the overall theme of the weekend at Long Beach Comic-Con and that is never a bad thing. So congrats, Long Beach, you’re not only the home of Snoop but one of the friendliest cons out there.