Long Beach Comic Expo took place at the Long Beach Convention Center on February 17-18, 2019 and was a bit smaller than previous years. As this is the smaller of the two Long Beach themed comic conventions it wasn’t too surprising to see a limited amount of people on either day, but despite small numbers the dealer hall was lively and the panels had a decent audience. This was Scarlet Rhapsody’s first event of the year and it was far more relaxed than the events we usually attend. Despite the size and lax atmosphere this convention had quite a bit to offer.
This year the convention was held at the front side of the convention center which has easy access to restaurants across the street and has room for the Star Cars right next to the security line. The cars are there for anyone passing by, which makes for some great photo ops for cosplayers and fans of series like Austin Powers, Jurassic Park, and the Blues Brothers. Security went quickly due to the limited amount of attendees and the use of three different scanners. Using the main part of the convention center provided plenty of space for panel rooms, as well as a large area for the dealer hall. However, the dealer hall was much smaller than previous years due to several factors including the convention center hosting three events on the same weekend.
The dealer hall was smaller than previous years and this was not to the show’s benefit. While there were plenty of good booths to find merch there wasn’t the variety one would expect at an event like Long Beach Comic Expo. It was easy to find discount floppies, trade paperbacks, and the newest issues from local indie publishers, but it felt like options were slim. However, the options for clothes and figures had some good variety. The artist alley area was much smaller, but it had a good mix of indie artists showing off their wares. It wasn’t the best dealer hall that this convention has ever had, but it was possible to find a few good things if you took the time to explore some of the smaller booths. If your key reason to go to this convention was shopping you’d be disappointed, thankfully the convention has more to offer than a dealer hall.
The panels that the team attended were mostly enjoyable. Some of the stand out panels include: Breaking into Toy and Product Design, Joe on Joe Presents GI Joe Fandom Today, and Life in Animation. Beyond those panels there were panels dedicated to guests like Dan Didio, panels dedicated to cosplay, and the GeekFest film festival. The only panels our group had issues with are panels that were not moderated properly. Whether it was bad time management or a moderator that asked uncomfortable questions those panels took a hit due to such sloppy leadership. However, there were always fun ways to bounce back and enjoy yourself at the convention.
One of the aspects of this convention that makes it stand out as unique is the Space Expo programming. This is a side event at the convention that not only has a segment of the dealer hall where people can meet aerospace professionals, but also learn about careers in those fields. Space Expo also has a track of panels that cover topics from the impact of fiction on technology to the current status of the New Horizons mission. There was programming both days and it is not only a great way to learn about current project that NASA is working on, but to learn be one of the first to hear about new projects that could change the way we view our solar system.
One of the benefits of smaller events is that they tend to have a very relaxed feeling. This is a family event and there were plenty of well-behaved kids running around the convention area. The families were very polite and that made the event more enjoyable. The other adults and young adults were pretty chill as well, but near the end of the event some of them got a little rowdy when there wasn’t much content left to consume. Another issue that came up was that some members of the convention security staff were rude at times. By the end of the event they were all but pushing people out of the convention center. While there were some bumps along the way the overall vibe of the event was positive. While a smaller event might not have enough content for some people the relaxed atmosphere makes up for some of the flaws.
Long Beach Comic Expo was not as impressive as some of the previous years, but it was far from a bad convention. The panel line up was mostly strong, the dealer hall had some nice finds despite a small size, and the relaxed vibe made it a fun event to attend There were some problems with this event like no online schedule nor guest bios on the website, however, the staff did try to make the event as good as they could. This was an enjoyable first convention of the year. While it will be interesting to see how the sister event Long Beach Comic Con turns out, this was a pretty good scaled down event. Overall, this event might not appeal to everyone due to the weak points of the convention, but it is a great starter convention and a nice way to spend a President’s Day weekend. Our staff enjoyed our time and we look forward to seeing how things develop with future Long Beach events.