This weekend marks the return of Long Beach Comic Con. Soon, Downtown Long Beach will be filled with festival enthusiasts unleashing their imaginations and geeking out in their shared love of all things comic book, fantasy, and sci-fi.
Are you thinking of attending? Jeremy Ancalade, DLBA’s Vice President of Administration and Finance, has some tips for you. He is a Comic Con fanatic, having attended and volunteered at dozens, mostly in Southern California.
Ancalade was quick to point out that Comic Con is not just a place for comic book lovers. “Comic Con these days is a space dedicated to fandom across the board,” he said. “This features comic books but also includes anime, film, television, horror, and science fiction, just to name a few. I’m a pretty big nerd, so for me, Comic Con represents the physical intersection of my fandoms.”
Here are Ancalade’s top tips for maximum Long Beach Comic Con enjoyment:
1) Embrace Cosplay! Whether you’re in a mainstream comic superhero costume or donning niche anime attire, you’ll find that cosplay absolutely enhances the Comic Con experience. Comic Con is a safe space where all levels of fandom are celebrated, so dust off your cape and proudly embrace your inner geek. Also, you won’t want to miss the annual cosplay contest. I was fortunate to serve as a judge last year and was so impressed with the quality of work and level of detail that goes into it. It’s one of my favorite parts of the Con.
2) Attend the panels! Panel discussions run throughout the day and you’ll discover that they address many different topics you may find interesting. These panels often dig deep to examine topics of diversity and inclusion, exploring the presence of specific identities in comics today.
3) Check out the Space Expo! Space Expo is a pavilion at the Con dedicated to providing high-quality STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education made accessible through a pop culture setting. It’s interactive and a ton of fun. This year the focus is Conspiracy Theories Unbundled, where attendees can explore conspiracy theories while learning scientific explanations alongside the paranormal or unexplainable phenomena.
4) Enjoy Downtown! The fun doesn’t stop at the Con. Each year I step away from the Con for a bit to enjoy lunch in Downtown Long Beach with a group of fellow cosplayers (yes, in cosplay!). We also go out after the Con closes for the day. Find me there and I’m happy to give you a recommendation.
The Comic Con spirit is happening year ’round in Downtown, if you look for it! To get your search started, here are three unique Downtown-based businesses to check out that purvey comics in person or online:
Feon Cooper’s shop, located upstairs in the Pike Outlets at 95 S Pine, right next to the Cinemark movie theaters, is a small space with lots and lots of magic! The shop fills every nook and cranny: There are sections for D.C., Marvel, Disney, anime, video games and much more — including a complimentary mini-arcade. The shop grew out of Cooper’s early love of comic books. It promotes people of color in comic book collections. “Hopefully, they’ll inspire kids to do something like this or just be good in life,” said Cooper. “Come check out my store. It’s an experience.”
This company’s Long Beach office in the Farmers & Merchants Bank building on Pine (they do most of their business online) is perfectly comic book old-school, like Clark Kent’s Daily Planet office. They sell an intriguing and punchy lineup of comics. “Our characters are people with flaws, which make them more interesting, but generally they are people with positive motivations,” said Dave Berge, Heroic Publishing Vice President, whose business partner, Publisher Dennis Mallonee, creates many comics on the company roster. “You can be heroic without having powers.” Berge added that some Heroic Publishing characters do have powers and can move around in time!
Fingerprints is the very definition of the word “collectible,” and comic book collectors will surely find some gems, as friendly store employee Megan indicated, gesturing toward a comprehensive corner that includes vintage comics, hard-bound books, comic anthologies, and gritty early-’90s graphic novels.”In addition to interesting books and comics, we have a bunch of great soundtracks, a curated movie section — a little bit of everything,” said Megan as she walked by vintage hi-fi gear, t-shirts from bygone eras, stacks of DVDs, and crate after crate of high-quality, collectible vinyl.