Pop culture fans gather at local convention

By Ivan Cazares 

Cosplayers, comic book fans, gamers, replica-prop cars and a legion of Star Wars stormtroopers took over the Long Beach Convention Center for the eighth annual Long Beach Comic Con, Saturday and Sunday.    

Cosplayers are people who dress up as their favorite fictional characters. A big part of convention culture is Cosplay and there was no shortage of eye-catching characters.

The convention’s guests included well known actors, comic book creators, voice actors and well known cosplayers. Guests included fan favorite Summer Glau and other cast members of the hit television series Firefly. Cast members from various Power Rangers, ranging from past to present, were in attendance.

However, there were no guests from any of the ongoing superhero series such as “Arrow”, “The Flash” or “Marvel’s Agents of Shield” this year. This may have disappointed some fans since LBCC has featured these sort of guests in the past.

For those who had no interest in paying for a celebrity autograph and photo there was plenty to see or buy. Comic book vendors had scores of back issues on sale starting at 50 cents each.

Hardcore collectors also had plenty to choose from as well, making sure that there was no shortage of valuable comics for purchase.

“We’ve been here since day one. We’re excited to see how much it has grown and how many people are now coming to Long Beach,” Ryan Liebowitz, Golden Apple Comics owner said.

Golden Apple is one of the oldest comic book stores in Los Angeles.

It is a family run business established by Leibowitz’s father in 1979. It partnered with the Hero Initiative to help comic book creators in need.

“A lot of the older guys who worked on some of the best known comics and characters for the big companies really didn’t get a lot (of money),” Leibowitz’s said.

He also said that a lot of creators from the early days of the comic book industry don’t have any creators rights to their characters, even though some of those characters and franchises are making profits of millions of dollars.

Golden Apple was selling variety packs with 10 comics for $10. It donated half of the proceeds to the Hero Initiative. There were also several indie comic book artists promoting their work.

“What other medium do you have where thousands of people come to you?” Kevin Bieber said.

Bieber is the co-creator of the comedy oriented series “Man vs Rock.”

He explained that conventions are the best place for creators to reach out to readers.

“San Diego (Comic Con) is still the Mecca of all geekdom, but smaller conventions are great,” writer of the indie comic book “Poverty Pack” Ted Shambaris said.

“San Diego Comic Con focuses on movies and other media. Smaller conventions like LBCC put the focus back on comic books. They give guys like us (indie comic book creators) a chance. It’s easier to talk to people one on one,” Shambaris said.

Shambaris wasn’t at the convention to promote his work. He was there to socialize and support over indie comic creators. Cosplayers also had plenty to do.

The convention’s cosplay corner was filled with up-and-coming cosplayers talking to fans, signing autographs and posing for photos. There were also well established cosplay groups like the 501st Legion’s Southern California Garrison.

The group’s name derives from a battalion of stormtroopers that served directly under Darth Vader in the Star Wars universe and is well known for their movie accurate costumes.

Photoshoots were happening throughout the convention floor.  Cosplayers seek out others who dress as characters from the same mythology for group photos. Children had plenty to do.

The convention is free for children under 10 with the purchase of an adult ticket. One of the best children’s attractions was the fighting game Super Smash Bros. and an area with what looked like an endless supply of legos. LBCC partnered with the Columbia Memorial Space Center in Downey for the second year to present panels that focused on space exploration.

The center also had an exhibit displaying space exploration equipment including space suits for people to take photos in. Panels included one hosted by the R2-D2 Builders Club where the group talked about what it takes to build a remote control R2.

Overall LBCC is a fun fan convention for people of all ages. For information on next year’s LBCC and other events, visit longbeachcomiccon.com.

Why so serious? - Jay and Sara Crawford dressed as the joker and Harley Quinn at the eight annual Long Beach Comic Con Saturday.
Why so serious? – Jay and Sara Crawford dressed as the joker and Harley Quinn at the eight annual Long Beach Comic Con Saturday.

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