Long Beach Comic Expo 2016

Comic books, movies, television and pop culture are the usual flair of the pop culture convention. But at the Long Beach Comic Expo 2016 you get a bonus, which are SCIENCE and SPACE!

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At the 2016 Long Beach Comic Expo (LBCE), there were artists and cosplay on display, with areas dedicated to the Power Rangers and cosplay organizations. Now, for the veteran convention goers, that’s business as usual, well, maybe not the Power Rangers part, but the thing that really impressed me was the play area for small children. Super Smash Bros was being projected onto what looked like, bounce castles, and everyone was invited to play, if they wanted. But if video games are not your thing, there was a section for laser tag, complete with inflatable arena. If I was a kid, I’d be in heaven. And the reason why this is important is because I don’t know what a small child gets out of a convention other than the cool cosplay and maybe some of the panels? So it was awesome for LBCE to think of the children and even the parents, by setting up an area with large Lego blocks and the like, to keep the young ones entertained. They get some major points for that.

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Now, everyone goes to a pop culture convention for different reasons. Some people love to cosplay, others want to meet their favorite writer, artist, voice actor, movie or tv star, or in this case, favorite Power Ranger. For me, I go for the panels. I love learning something new, or beI got one of the first to see something I’m obsessing over. In other words, exclusives. This is something that LBCE does somewhat differently and that I love immensely. Along with the usual comic book, tv, anime, and cosplay panels, there were panels dedicated to science and outer space. One I went to had an author and co-founder of the Planetary Society, Louis Friedman, who talked about the future of space exploration and what needed to get done before humans can colonize another plane, like Mars, or even exit the solar system. There was a PowerPoint presentation and charts, and it was almost like a fun college lecture (which is NOT a bad thing), but with a book advert at the end and there were people in costume in the crowd. It was fascinating and I had a great time, but I was sad to see the minimal attendance. Why aren’t more people into this?!?!

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If I had any criticism that was both positive and negative, it would have to be the LBCE attendance. It was nice not having to rub up against people when walking up and down the rows of the show floor, trying to peek over a head or shoulder to see an artist or look at a vendor’s wares. But when I attended a panel, and I wanted to be able to see the podium and the guests of honor, it was great to find a nice, comfortable seat near the front, where I could see everything going on. That’s the positive. The negative was, that there must not have been a lot of events to entice a larger crowd. Seeing the empty chairs as I sat eagerly to listen to one panel or actor, was just unusual. It was just more surprising, I guess, because I’m used to the large crowds. I suppose it’s to be expected at a medium sized show.

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Now, like I said, I’m a panel guy, it’s what I do, and other panels I went to that I would recommend were the Video Games show, that had improv actors playing a “Hunger Games” like parody, but with video game characters. Get it? See? If you like a little improve comedy, some fairly well played fight choreography and video game inside jokes, then there is your one stop shop.  

There was a Power Rangers panel, that was sadly more critical of the acting business than it was about the show itself. I guess I don’t really recommend this one, but I don’t know how regularly these actors do a panel.

Then there was the Con Man panel with Alan Tudyk, which was not only entertaining, but probably the highlight of the convention. People arrived in droves to listen to the man talk about his show and just revel in his very affable and contagious personality. I was a big fan of the stories and anecdotes myself. He also talked about the future of his career as well as the future of the show Con Man, which looks to be getting a second season and possible DVD/Bluray release, which I’m down for, as I haven’t seen this show yet.

After that, there was one final panel I attended on my first, and sadly, only, day there, and that was the Marvel Report’s cosplay discussion. The speakers were informative and experienced, with a lot of good anecdotes and tips for the would be cosplayers. They were able to even get a raffle in for those who attended. With all the talk about how to get started with cosplay, how to look the part of the character, and how to be screen accurate, I became inspired to think about my own future cosplay, as I normally just rock every convention with my Darkwing Duck and Megaman shirts. Maybe I’d make a good “The Blob”.

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I had a great time at the Long Beach Comic Expo. It has inspired me to start new projects, plan others, and introduced me to some cool new things I wouldn’t have known existed. Also, I learned something new with all the science that was on display. I love science. For anyone who may be wondering why I only attended the Saturday event, it was because there wasn’t much in the Sunday lineup that made me want to come back for more. That’s not a mark against LBCE. It’s just not the job of the convention to cater to all of my interests all of the time. Still, this was my first year attending the Con, and I intend to come back for more. And please keep doling out more of that awesome science.

Website – Long Beach Comic Expo

Francis Fernandez
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