The Long Beach Comic Expo and its older brother, the Long Beach Comic Con, have become two of my most eagerly anticipated events every year. They have a big con feel without all the massive lines and claustrophobic crowds. The Expo started as a small, one day event and has grown to the point you almost can’t differentiate between it and LBCC.
This year’s Expo took place during Presidents’ Day weekend, a prime spot because several conventions were also scheduled on the same days. For those of us in Southern California, you had to choose between LBCE, the Doctor Who-themed Gallifrey One, San Diego Comic Fest, and the gaming-centric Strategicon. California has also braved some of its strongest storms in years with a few road closures making it a little more difficult to make my way to the convention center. Luckily, the torrential rains were reduced to intermittent sprinkling on Saturday and the weather clearing up nicely on Sunday.
LBCE 2017 featured one of its biggest guests to date in Jason Momoa, who has tons of crossover appeal between Game of Thrones and DC Comics. The Justice Leaguer happily signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans dressed as Daenerys Targaryen and Aquaman. Comic book luminaries George Perez (Avengers, Wonder Woman), Mike Zeck (The Punisher), Michael Golden (G.I. Joe), and Len Wein (co-creator of Swamp Thing and Wolverine) were special guests for the weekend. Unfortunately, Mark Waid (writer of The Flash and Daredevil) cancelled at the last minute due to flooding at his home. Wrestling fans could meet WWE Hall of Famer Rikishi and PJ Black (formerly Justin Gabriel) of Lucha Underground. Coincidentally, WWE ran a live event at the convention center’s arena with superstars from Monday Night Raw.
Artists Alley and Cosplay Corner have been staples of the exhibit hall, along with the Space Expo focusing on live scientific demonstrations and panels focused on space travel. The Long Beach organizers have also done a fantastic job working hand in hand with the Girl Scouts. Not only were they selling cookies at the convention, the Scouts could also earn badges in art and life drawing. Other panels at the expo promoted diversity within the comics and cosplay communities and Ezra Claytan Daniels’ graphic novel, Upgrade Soul, winning the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity on Saturday night. The honor was named after the late writer who worked for Marvel, DC Comics, and DC Animation.
The cosplay contest took place on Saturday night as well with the grand prize went to a Hawkman and Hawkgirl with expansive wings and glowing maces. Other notable contestants included a hulking Groot and a pair of young brothers dressed Batman and Joker.
The Comic Expo will return to the Long Beach Convention Center for next year’s Presidents’ Day weekend while the Long Beach Comic Con takes place Sept. 2 and 3.