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Long Beach Comic Con 2016 Review

Written By: Abel S. Pinedo

September 18th, 2016

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The arrival of fall brings many wonderful things. Beautiful weather, changes in scenery and of course, the amazing Long Beach Comic Con. On a beautiful September morning I made my way to Long Beach for this extremely popular annual show. LBCC is focused mainly on comic books and independent artists. This is a unique and refreshing change from other, larger shows and their mixed content. Over the course of the two day show I was treated to many fun events and some really wonderful surpises.

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The first thing I noticed when I arrived at the show was a parking full lot of celebrity 'star cars'. Over one dozen vehicles from films and TV shows such as Jurassic Park, Transformers, Austin Powers, Knight Rider and The Blues Brothers dotted the courtyard near the entrance. Seeing as how The Blues Brothers is one of my favorite films of all time, I had a good feeling as I made my way inside. I quickly received my badge and program, gave the program a quick look to plan my day, and off I went into convention wonderland.

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My first stop was the Golden Apple Comics booth. I was anxious to try my luck by purchasing two of their random comic grab bags. Each bag contains ten comics and a prize certificate. Every bag was a guaranteed winner. One of the best prizes was an issue of the Fantastic Four signed by Stan Lee himself! It really was an incredible contest and it drew quite a crowd. More importantly it was being done for a great cause. Half of the purchase price was being donated to the Hero Initiative. If you are unaware, the Hero Initiative is a non profit organization dedicated to helping out comic artists and creators in financial need. You can read more about the program here (Link). In addition to the charity drive, there were artists featured all weekend such as Mike Choi, Danny Miki, Mike Perkins and Christian Gossett.

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I continued to explore the exhibit hall, overwhelmed by all the sites and attractions. I had to keep making notes along the way to remind myself of all the vendor booths I wanted to revisit. There was definitely more of a crowd at this show in comparison to the Spring show. It has certainly grown more popular with each passing year. One thing I appreciate about this show is that it has certain dedicated areas aimed at kids. There's a Lego area where there are hundreds and hundreds of Lego pieces on a large play mat for kids to just sit and build to their hearts' content. There was also a video game challenge area where kids can square off against each other. Finally there was a cool Nerf battle area. Basically, there were inflatable obstacles scattered about an area. Kids are given a weapon and divided into teams. At the word go, they get to battle each other for a designated time.

What's a Con without panels? My main goal was to attend the retrospective panel on the 25th anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series. Kevin Conroy (Batman) and Loren Lester (Robin) reunited onstage for a look back at what many consider the best Batman series of all time. They talked about everything from the casting process and working with Mark Hamill (voice of the Joker) to how voice over techniques have changed over the years. I never knew that this was Kevin's first ever voice over gig! Kevin also talked about how he wanted to try out for the role of Dt. Bullock, even after being assured the role of Batman was his.

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During the Q&A, prizes were to be handed out afterwards for the best questions asked. Naturally, I had to take a chance. I asked what was the first moment during the series' run where Kevin and Loren realized just how great the show was going to be. Kevin told us the moment came during the first episode. After recording the first several episodes, the work was sent off to be compiled and built around the animation. The first time he got to see the first completed episode, he was stunned. Seeing it all come together, he turned to Mark Hamill and said, “Did you have ANY idea it was going to look this good?” After the panel, those of us who asked questions were told to hang around for a few minutes. Several DVD's were handed out. Guess who got the grand prize. That's right, I won the complete series box set on DVD! I could not believe it. My good luck streak continues!

Another panel I sat in on was called The Star Wars Perspectives. The panel consisted of Greg Weisman (producer of season one of Rebels), Brian Miller (Star Wars artist) and Craig Miller (the first Director of Fan Relations) talking about their impact on Star Wars and sharing their experiences with the franchise. At one point someone asked Greg Weisman if there was anything he wanted to do during his run on Rebels that he wasn't able to do. He said on three separate occasions that he pitched an idea and was told from the higher ups at Disney, not to. No reason given. He believes it was because it would conflict with future plans either on the show or something else that Disney/Lucasfilm has up their sleeve. Of course, he couldn't tell us what specifically those ideas were. Craig Miller also talked about the early days of Star Wars, before the internet, and about getting the word out about the original film. Once the first movie came out, and was a smash hit, there wasn't a big need to promote the second film.

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I made my way back to the exhibit hall and through artist alley. I cannot state enough how much I enjoy visiting this area. It's important to support independent artists. You never know when you're going to find that once piece of art or jewelry or something else that you simply must own. As for me, I picked up a small piece from Dug Nation based on The Thing. I also purchased a very cute Star Wars/Lady and the Tramp mash-up from artist Brett Bennett.

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As the Con drew to a close I picked up a few early Holiday gifts and bid farewell to our friends and fans. Between the awesome panels, the cosplayers, and the incredible prizes, this was definitely a very successful Con for me. Rest assured, I will definitely return next Spring!

About the Author: Abel S. Pinedo a.k.a. "Honest Abe" has written reviews for Dark Horizons, JoBlo and MusicTap.  He has worked in the entertainment industry for over a decade. He can usually be found at his keyboard ranting and rambling about the human condition or watching Beavis & Butthead.

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