Comic fandom gathers for Long Beach Con

Over the weekend, Long Beach became ground zero for lovers of all things within the comic book pop culture universe; Comic-Con held its annual gathering of costumed denizens and fanboys, ready to devour the latest in comic book media.

Immediately upon entering, visitors were treated to gaggles of cosplaying men, women, and children in homemade costumes, with characters ranging from Marvel’s beloved Deadpool to more original characters like Robert Downey Jr.’s “Iron Man” suit merged with the futuristic Batsuit from the 1999 animated series “Batman Beyond”. There were also lots of women dressed as Harley Quinn, The Joker’s infamous partner in crime.

“I like for the fact that cosplaying gives me an escape from my day to day life,” said Deadpool “cosplayer” Ardent Forte. “Some people like collecting stamps, other people like fighting dogs, but I like cosplay because I don’t have to be anyone but the character I am that day.”

Cosplayers were far from being the only attention grabbers at the con, however. Guests were led to a giant room full of indie comic book writers, artists, and inkers, each of them with sprawled out pieces of their work across several tables.

One particularly eye-catching table was the one containing the collected illustrations of Albert Nguyen, an artist who found his hobby in drawing and selling various images from pop culture refitted to the “Star Wars” franchise. One piece displayed Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers sailing across the desert in the classic fashion of George Washington crossing the Delaware River. Another piece displayed Imperial Stormtroopers raising an Imperial flag like the soldiers at Iwo Jima.

The Long Beach Lego Users Group set up shop at the Con as well, proudly displaying many different Lego sets on tables, as well as dumping a floor-full of random Lego pieces onto the ground for children to play with.

Some of the more bizarre setups included ones like the steampunk collection, where an energetic steampunk enthusiast sold old classic-looking replicas of weapons and masks, including a couple of creepy plague doctor helmets.

By far the weirdest setup at the Con, however, was the table surrounded by rolls and rolls of toilet paper. It was a promotional set-up for a book and blog named “The Flushed”, which outlines the observations of awkward toilet etiquette. The most hilarious of advice among the pages of the book included instructions to avoid “bathroom butlers” at all costs, in case they expect a tip for the laughably simple act of spraying soap into your hand before washing.

One of the most fun experiences at the Con came in the form of The CW’s promotional content for its upcoming superhero program “The Flash”, based on the so-named scarlet speedster.

It was a trailer dressed up as a laboratory of the fictional company STAR Labs. Upon walking in, guests are handed a small card to activate the various games within. One game tested guests’ reading speed versus the Flash’s by having guests attempt to read a monitor displaying flashing words at various speeds.

The max speed reached over 1200 words per minute, so that game was impossible to win assuming you are not a speeding metahuman.

Many comic books were sold. But it’s notable that these books were being sold at extremely low prices, selling entire regular paperback trade collection of comics at $6 to $20, when the regular prices would actually value somewhere around $20 to $30.

Beyond the visible attractions, various rooms at the Long Beach Comic-Con are host to panel discussions with guests varying from comic book writers to make-ups experts.

One panel was a discussion of the popularity of the original, 1966 Batman TV series and its allure.

“Whoa, people like Batman?” remarked current Silver Surfer artist Mike Allred humorously, after marveling at the large crowd in attendance of the panel.

Other popular panels included “The Psychology of Harley Quinn”, in which the co-writers of the current “Harley Quinn” title discussed the character’s mental situation with a licensed psychologist, along with writer/costumer Constantine In Tokyo’s make-up demonstration panel, where she detailed how to make a believable burn, while dressed up as an undead Marie Antoinette.

“Just Marie Antoinette applying make-up to Madame Hydra,” joked Tokyo. “Just another normal day at Comic-Con.”