WonderCon has officially announced that they’re returning to Anaheim in 2014 for a third year, from April 18-20. It’s turned out to be a good venue for the convention, especially if they can work the remaining kinks out of parking next year, and it means it’s easy for us to attend, since it’s close enough for us to commute. (That really takes some of the pressure off of trying to get tickets for San Diego, too.)

Still, I hope they find a way to move back to the Bay Area soon. I attended three years at the Moscone Center when it meant traveling (it probably helps that we have family and friends in the area to visit on the way up and back), and while the show still feels very much like part of the same family, it does feel like a slightly different show. I was in San Francisco on a business trip last week, and when I realized I was in the neighborhood, I just had to stop by Yerba Buena park and the Moscone Center for old time’s sake. Continue reading

I spent the first Saturday of November in Long Beach for the fourth annual Long Beach Comic and Horror Con. Despite the name change last year, the show remains focused on comics, and horror feels like an afterthought tacked on to fit with the Halloween timing of the show. (It makes me wonder whether they’ll return to the original name next year, when it’s held at the end of November.)

Venue & Layout

There were four or five Star Wars-decorated cars outside the lobby and one Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles van. I was way too amused by a convertible, tricked out to look like it had starfighter engines and gun emplacements, on display with a Yoda statue in the passenger seat. (I figure Jedi don’t ride shotgun, they ride lightsaber.)

Yoda Is My Co-Pilot

On the main floor, Artist’s Alley continues to be the centerpiece, both literally and figuratively. SDCC has been shoving the artist’s tables off to one end of the insanely-long hall, Wizard tends to put them in the back, and I hear NYCC put them in a different hall entirely (not quite behind a door labeled “beware of the leopard”), but Long Beach has always made a point of putting them right in the center. Publishers at the front, fan groups at the back, dealers to the sides, all wrapped around the artists.

Way in the back, past the fan groups, there was a laser tag arena and a roller derby course (marked on the floor in tape. The derby replaced the wrestling ring they had the first couple of years. For some reason Chevrolet was plugging the Volt (so to speak) in one corner. The roller derby makes sense in the same way as the wrestling does (garish costumes, code names, and violence), but I couldn’t figure out the Volt. Continue reading

The Walk for Food Allergy that I’ve been plugging over the last couple of months was held this Sunday. We drove out to Long Beach to join several hundred other people in the walk to raise funds for the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. You helped us raise $1,342.15, putting our team into the top 5, and the event overall raised $45,360 before offline donations are counted. The money goes to FAAN and their mission to support food allergy research, education, awareness and advocacy. FAAN sponsors a series of these events throughout the year, so if you’d still like to make a donation, you can contribute through December 31.

Because food allergies are on the increase, a lot of the people affected by them are children, so there were a lot of families at the event. I remember last year featuring a stage and information booths for support groups, medical groups and allergy-friendly food companies like SunButter and Enjoy Life. This year they also had an inflatable slide and a rock climbing wall. (The organizer said that they moved it to Long Beach so that they could get that wall.)

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When I heard that Long Beach Comic Con was rebranding itself as Long Beach Comic and Horror Con this year, I was a little concerned. One of the things I liked most about it the first two years was the heavy emphasis on comics compared to San Diego (which has plenty of comics, but is so big that it’s easy to miss them) or the Wizard conventions (which seem to have refocused around celebrities). As it turns out, the horror didn’t drown out the comics at all. The front of the hall was still mainly comics publishers, with dealers (mostly comics and collectibles) behind them in a U shape, wrapped around the core: a gigantic Artist’s Alley.

Of course, Halloween and horror did make their presence known, starting with the signs for zombie parking, and continuing with programming, guests and costumes. (Jump straight to the photos.)

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ZatannaOn the last weekend of October, I made it out to the second annual Long Beach Comic Con. It’s shaping up to be a very artist–, writer– and dealer-focused convention.

A couple of years ago, Wizard World Los Angeles seemed to be all about people looking for deals on comics and collectibles (in which case, why not just go to Frank and Son or the Shrine?). When the show resurfaced in Anaheim this year, it seemed to be all about the celebrity autographs.

If you just want to see the photos, check out the photo set on Flickr. Otherwise, read on!


OBISHWNThe first thing everyone noticed was the row of themed cars out in front of the convention center: A Camaro painted up as Bumblebee, a replica of KITT from Knight Rider, cars from less geeky shows like Starsky and Hutch and (IIRC) Magnum, P.I.…and a car that had been modified to look like a Rebel Alliance small fighter, complete with an R2 unit!

The main floor at Long Beach was bigger this year than last, though nowhere near as big as Anaheim. Unlike Anaheim, they used most of their space.

All the publishers were clustered near the entrance, with Aspen and BOOM! the most prominent, followed by Top Cow, Image and Avatar in the next row with other small press, along with the celebrity autograph area off to one side.

Dr. Doom and Captain AmericaThe rest of the floor was structured with a huge Artist’s Alley at its core, surrounded by retailers on either side. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that it was two Artist’s Alley areas with dealers wrapped around them in a sort of F shape.

If you went to Anaheim Comic-Con this year, remember how big the celebrity signing area was, and how small the artists’ area was? Flip it. My gut instinct says that there were more artists with tables here than there were in San Diego, but then it could just be that they’re a bigger percentage of the smaller space.

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