Most years Long Beach Comic Con is a wonderful event that helps lead to the end of the convention season. It is a smaller event filled with some interesting panels and great photoshoot locations. However, this year it was a different story. Much like LBCC’s sister event Long Beach Comic Expo there is a distinctive regression that hurts the event. While growth cannot be expected every year, it is not a good sign when an event feels like it has gone backward by several years. Sadly this year Long Beach Comic Con didn’t feel up to the standards that attendees expect.
The location is still great. The Long Beach Convention Center is a well-designed location with plenty of room for panels, space for the Star Cars, and great looking photo shoot locations. However, this year they did not use the space well. There was a limited number of panel rooms, the Star Cars felt squished together, and even the dealer hall felt lacking. Part of this was due to the sheer amount of other events happening around the convention center area during the event, but part of it feels more like miss management on the side of staff. While parking getting stuffed due to multiple events is something they cannot stop, they could update on social media so people arrive via a ride share or arrive knowing there is going to be a long walk to the convention.
The panel line up was very mixed this year with a much smaller amount of content, but the fun of the Geekfest Film room which had fan films and original s does help boost program quality. There were two main panel rooms and it felt like they were not offering anything new. There were a couple guest panels, but for the most part it felt like the lineup was made up of niche fan panels. It was difficult to find much of interest, but thankfully there were panels like the Military and Comics panel. It really feels like Long Beach Comic Con needs to get some new blood into their panels because generic cosplay or comic fan panels don’t really cut it when LA Comic Con is just around the corner. Thankfully, the GeekFest room is great with some fun and often weird short films that help LBCC stand apart from other conventions. However, as good as the films can be, it isn’t enough content to warrant the price of the ticket.
One of the things that did make this a great event to attend was that cosplay wrestling that occurred in the dealer hall. This was held in a ring, with a cage, and featured several wrestlers dressed as various comic book heroes and villains. This includes Wonder Woman, Super Girl, Batman, Black Widow, and The Joker. The wrestlers were great and put on a fun show. They all had unique themes, or in the case of those with popular theme songs they used them, and the wrestling was really well done. Kids gathered to watch the show, along with people of all ages who wanted to see heroes and villains battle it out in the ring. This is one of the events that seems to come and go with LBCC and hopefully it will stay as it is a fun way to spend some time at the dealer hall.
As for the rest of the dealer hall it was not bad, but it did feel smaller than previous years. There were the usual comic company booths, toy booths, and clothing booths, yet it didn’t feel like there were nearly as many dealers as they had in previous years. It is hard to describe a lackluster dealer hall when the hall offered the things one would expect. However, it felt like there were less comic and toy booths this year which makes everything look generic and samey. The dealer hall might be fine for some, but most people probably would prefer a larger variety that can be found at other conventions. On the good side, the guest area was well organized and it was easy to find the various guests. In fact, if there is someone on the guest list you would like to meet this is a great place to go due to the smaller crowds. While it might not have been that great compared to previous years this wasn’t a terrible deal hall due to limited crowds and decent organization.
The vibe of the event was one of the better parts of the convention. With smaller numbers the lack of crowding really helped as people didn’t feel crush and foot traffic wasn’t too bad. However, this also meant that the panel rooms didn’t fill up much offering some panels very little in terms of audience. There didn’t seem to be as many families this year, but there was still a contingent of children running about, especially at the wrestling ring. There was a good amount of cosplayers, but no one seemed to have an attitude nor were there any excessive photoshoot blocking walkways. One of the best things about LBCC is the vibe and thankfully even with the weaker event the vibe was still good.
If LBCC hadn’t been around for so long the review probably wouldn’t be so harsh. However, it is starting to feel like this convention is falling apart. There is some good at the event, but there seems to be a sense of disorganization behind the scenes. The Star Cars felt cramped and didn’t work well for photoshoots, the panel line up was a joke, and the website is a mess that requires a major overhaul. While the site doesn’t have a direct influence on the convention it does make it difficult to find schedules or look up guests. The site is a mess and it feels like guests are set in arbitrary categories and the schedule isn’t posted until just before the event. There is no good method for planning out your weekend at LBCC and most of the time you will have to wing it. I really want to enjoy this event and promote an event that has earned my loyalty over the years. However, it was a really weak year and I’m not sure if the convention can recover. It is far from the worst SoCal event, but it would be a shame to see it slide down the list due to mismanagement. Hopefully next year will give us a better run of Long Beach comic conventions because smaller comic cons are often the best.