Monday, September 14, 2015
Con-Man: Long Beach Comic Con
After a late Friday night at Disneyland, Saturday morning we headed up to Long Beach for their Con. I've been attending LBCC since 2009 and watched it expand, contract and expand again. They've done Halloween themed shows, one day smaller cons, had lots of guests and panels, not many guests and panels, food trucks and Star Cars outside or nothing at all. This particular show seemed to be shaping up to be their biggest ever with the inclusion of several more celebrity guests available to charge for autographs, beefier programming and a reported 450 vendors. Their last show in March utilized the back side of the Long Beach Convention Center near the aquarium but the September edition would be holding court out front along Pike Street once again. Things seemed amiss near immediately when the two parking structures next door were closed off and drivers didn't know where else to go. Following the signs I realized that Lobster Fest was also going on nearby and they were herding everyone to park on the other side of Shoreline Drive. A huge queue was waiting to get in so they could pay $10 bucks then trek the half mile back to the convention center. That was not a very nice welcome, especially as LBCC has always been one of the easiest shows to attend.
Not accepting the grassy option, I found street parking five minutes away but would have to feed the meter every 2 hours. It's not that big a show so a couple of trips and 4 hours should be plenty, right? Well, the line to get into the convention center took up 3 huge queues and ended up taking 45 minutes! I asked some of the crew what the hold up was and they simply stated that the staff didn't expect such a large turnout. Wait, you're telling me in this day and age you can't tell how many tickets you've sold online to staff accordingly?! There's no excuse for poor crowd control in my opinion. People are paying to attend an event, not wait in line twice before getting to said event. The problem was that inside, there were only 4 booths open to scan tickets and distribute wrist bands. Horrible flashbacks to the shit show of Salt Lake City Con came back to me where they only had 5 people admitting those who actually paid extra to wait less but ended up waiting 2 hours. Like SLCC, it would have been faster to just buy a ticket onsite and go into the show. It seemed pretty crowded in the lobby but the actual show didn't seem any bigger than it's ever been so waiting so long was a doubly insulting.
It was great to catch up with William Stout and Mike over at the RAW Studios booth, Stout will be a guest at He-Man night this weekend while Mike is headed to New York. I introduced myself to future guest Alan Oppenheimer and chit chatted with a few vendors we see regularly on the con circuit. There were various new spaces on the floor highlighting NASA, Power Rangers, Cosplay and Star Signings along with your usual Artist Alley and Laser Tag. There weren't a ton of big names at the show with John Barrowman, some actress from Agents of Shield, some guys from Daredevil and Sam Witwer holding down the paid meet and greet area. It's not the exhibitors fault that the organizers did such a poor job of getting people through the doors and I wanted to spend some dough on the floor but sadly came up short and bought...nothing. No comics caught my attention, the NECA Ripley still carries a stiff price tag and no random item looked like it should be on my shelf. Adam Kubert was making his LBCC debut and we saw awesome artists like Art Adams and Whilce Portacio on the floor. Mark Silvestri popped up at the Top Cow! booth while I never found Bryan Edward Hill to ask him about Dolph's The Russian Specialist. A group of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cosplayers had a booth complete with an April O'Neil but later I saw them hanging out with their prop helmets off, didn't you see Old School?! Put your head back on! We ran into G.I. Joe expert and Duke historian Diana Davis in line and caught the tail end of the Joe panel where cast members reminisced about their time working for Sunbow and the incredible legacy the cartoons and toys have created like they did back in March.
Outside your usual line up of cinematic and television famous vehicles were waiting to be checked out including the Back to the Future Deloreon, Jurassic Park jeeps, Bumblebee from Transformers, not one but two KITT's from Knight Rider and a new addition, the Firebird James Garner tooled around in for hit show The Rockford Files. Like the awesome discount book store before it, Geeky Mama's (moved to Anaheim) had also closed and we didn't hit the Auld Dubliner for any Dublin Donkeys since we were on the clock. It's interesting looking back on some LBCC posts as it's usually been one of my favorites to attend due to it's easy access, solid exhibitor floor and terrific surrounding area. Not long ago I thought they might be losing ground to Comikaze in terms of size, scope and social awareness but his weekend proved that LBCC's ready to grow. It was also a reminder that bigger isn't always better and quality still trumps quantity. Very disappointing.