Long Beach Comic Con 2015:

I'm starting to not mind sitting out some conventions and just attending again. I just have to remind myself that I'm no longer on the outside looking in when it comes to the exhibitor experience, especially in "Artist Alley." This year's Long Beach Comic Con event once again didn't disappoint. A two-day convention taking place at the beautiful Long Beach Convention Center just steps from the waterfront with lots of great restaurants, aquariums, and scenic ferry rides like the Aqualink, its surroundings rival San Diego Comic Con for best overall convention experience.  

Since I wasn't exhibiting this year, I just got a Saturday attendee ticket (I should really start springing for a professional badge, since I am one). To avoid both the parking crunch and fees, I Metro'ed it from North Hollywood to Long Beach using the Red Line Subway and Blue Line Light Rail. The only downside in this option this weekend was the fact that a segment of the Blue Line track was under renovation, which meant that passengers had to use a temporary shuttle bus between the closed track to reach the other stations and continue either north to Los Angeles or south to Long Beach. Once I got there though, I was amazed at the large crowds gathering outside the Convention Center----more than I've seen in the five years I had exhibited there. Inside was just as crazy, but it luckily didn't translate to the ticket lines, as I was able to get my wristband rather quickly. My first thought when entering the exhibit hall this year, was how dark it looked. The same lighting system appeared to be in place, but for some reason it seemed like there were very few lights on in the hall. My first stop was Artist Alley of course, and I explained this weird lighting decision to all of my vendor friends I greeted: Tobias Gebhardt, Mark Rivers, Barbra and Bryant Dillon, JD Correa, Josh Hauke, Wendy Shaner, and Lonnie Milsap are just a few of my exhibitor buddies present behind the table. Lonnie had told me that Artist Alley this year had broken off into smaller segments. For example, Lonnie was a part of a table segment just for "funny books." It was a new way of spotlighting specific independent creative talent that the con was trying out, and from the looks of the crowds, it seemed very promising. Aside from talking shop with my artist friends, the other two highlights of the show was my lone purchase of the DVD documentary "The Death of Superman Lives," autographed by director John Schnepp who was in person, and then doing some autographing of my own when fellow vendor buddy Wendy Shaner brought out glossy printed versions of the sketches I did for her online for winning my "Mongoose Monday" illustration games. She asked me to sign them for herself, family, and students at her school, who have grown quite fond of my "Figure-Of-Speech Mongoose" character, as Wendy has used him in her teaching lessons. I was more that happy to sign my artwork, and later asked her if she could take photos of the signed sketches later to post them on my Facebook page. One of the last stops I made in the hall was to Phat Collectibles, an orange county comic shop that had a booth at the con. They run a convention of their own in January called Phat Con in Anaheim, and I went to ask for information on exhibiting. It's always great to hear about new shows (especially new FREE shows) where I can take my work to new audiences.

Well, after three hours simply flew by ( I arrived there around 2 p.m. and stayed until 5), not to mention my phone battery dying, I decided to call it a day. I said goodbye to as many friends as I could and began the trek back to North Hollywood via Metro Rail and temporary shuttle bus. Despite the fact that Long Beach COmic Con has been running shows since 2009, it's still an event that not many people outside of Long Beach know much about. While it doesn't have the name recognition of a Wondercon or even a Comikaze when you mention comic conventions to non-comic media fans, it has carved out a niche in being a show more for the traditional comic fan, rather than a media-heavy event with tv show and movie panels. I'm hope that my Artist Alley friends had a great show this weekend, and I will definitely be back behind the table for next year's Long Beach Comic Con, and Comic Expo next February and September. Now, it's on to preparing for my return to large comic conventions, starting with Comikaze Expo this Halloween! More details to come...