Love and Loathing in Long Beach Comic Con

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Step right up and get your ticket!
Step right up and get your ticket!

Guest GeekDad Eli Schiff went to Long Beach Comic Con last weekend and filed this report:

“Comic Con.” Two words that elicit so many feelings: joy, geekdom, excitement, nostalgia, anticipation, dread. Wait, what? Dread? Really? Maybe my experience has been different than most con-goers’, but for me, definitely.

Let me backtrack a little. Comic Con and I have a bit of a history. My first experience with any con was the big leagues: San Diego Comic Con. That was back in 2008 when you could get a Sunday pass a few weeks before the con. It was amazing. Everything Entourage promised it would be and more! (If you haven’t been to a con, you should check out Entourage, Season 2, Episode 9 “I Love You Too”). Comics, films, TV shows, celebrities, screenings, panels, cosplayers, giveaways, and thousands of people joining together in geeky goodness. It was incredible! I had never experienced anything like it. I couldn’t wait to go back the following year.

2009 was even better. My then-friend Chari and I went together and had the best time roaming, chatting with some of her peers (she’s a member of the National Cartoonists Society), and hitting up a couple of parties. Over the course of the con, we even started dating (which is a whole other article…). And because she’s a cartoonist (an amazing one!), I knew we’d be going to many more cons to come.

Chari and I soon started measuring time by the cons we attended. 2010, engaged. 2011, married. 2012, pregnant. 2013, with 9-month-old son. And that’s when cons went from anticipation and fun to exhaustion and dread. Please don’t misunderstand; I love my son (and daughter, who was born in 2015), but going to a con with family in tow is very, very difficult. Particularly the over-stuffed San Diego Comic Con. So when I got word from GeekDad writer Mordechai Luchins that the site was looking for someone to go to Long Beach Comic Con (aka: “LBCC”), I was a bit ambivalent. I had only been to LBCC once, about 6 years ago, when the con was only 2 years old; and it showed. The con was sparse, with few tables, panels, and attendees. That plus a family outing would seem to equal disaster. But I decided to go for it anyway.

Boy am I glad I did! From start to finish, it was an extremely pleasant and fun experience. Parking was simple and cheap ($10 pretty much on-site), as was entry. Thankfully, with two strollers, food, and diaper pads (etc.), from car to con was just 5 minutes. (Okay, 10 minutes. We had to stop to get the freebies at the entrance–it wouldn’t be a con without them!) Badge pick-up was also really quick, too. True, we got there at noon on Sunday, so most people probably already had theirs, but even when we got to SDCC late, there were always lines for badge pick-up. (We spent almost 2 hours in line this year at Wonder Con waiting for our badges!)

When we got to the exhibit hall, it was wonderful. Lots of vendors and artists, as well as attendees, but it didn’t feel crowded. It felt… perfect. No running over peoples’ feet with the strollers just to move a couple of feet (sorry to anyone we did run over…), no getting shoved out of the way for a celeb sighting or sudden giveaway. It was great. Plus there were a few areas that were different and wonderful. Like Cosplay Corner, an area with booths designed specifically for people who dress up for cons. We bumped into a friend there (Bonnie Gordon of the Library Bards and The Quest fame) and saw some amazing costumes.

There were also a few booths raising money for children’s hospitals (a great cause!) and giving out “light sabers” (glow sticks with duct tape at the bottom–genius!) to anyone who donated. But as a GeekDad, my favorite part was the kids section, complete with maze, make-your-own-mask, and LEGO areas (essentially a tarp with piles of LEGO bricks on top). There was even an area to display your LEGO once you finished. My almost 4-year-old son and 18-month-old daughter were in Heaven. They could have spent the entire day there. We made some friends and didn’t have to worry about the kids running off since it was a pretty enclosed area. In other words, we got a few minutes to just sit back and take in the moment. As parents, we often don’t have the time or luxury to do that. It was lovely.

This attraction was NOT for the bare of foot.
This attraction was NOT for the bare of foot.

There were other great things about the con that I’m sure I’m neglecting to report on. Yes, there were celebs and other cool parts–and I’ll write another article about the awesome “Art of Voice Over” panel we got into after waiting only 7 (!!!) minutes on line.

But like I said, the cons have become a measure of time for our family. And as a family outing, the kids play area (among the other family-friendly aspects) of LBCC have certainly won me over. This GeekDad (and his whole geeky family!) will definitely be back next year!

Special thanks to Mordechai Luchins and GeekDad for the wonderful experience!

Eli Schiff is a voiceover actor, game and puzzle lover, and proud geek. He lives in Los Angeles with his cartoonist wife, Chari Pere, and cartoony children Jakey and Bailey.

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