What do you get when you mix the stars and writers of of Arrow, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Carter, Daredevil, White Collar, costumed fans and Girl Scouts?
You get the melting pot of action hero worship that is Comic Con, set to kick off in comic-tastic fashion at the Long Beach Convention Center this Saturday and Sunday.
With ticket sales well ahead of those going into last year’s Long Beach Comic Con, event organizer Martha Donato is looking forward to outdoing Long Beach Comic Cons of the past.
“Long Beach Comic Con will be by far the biggest show we’ve ever hosted,” said Donato, noting that the show is twice the size of the Expo held earlier this year. “It was important to grow the show so we continue to have room for top notch animation programming, as well as of course comic book panels, and we’re also bringing back the GeekFest Film Festival which will include [three] feature films, a slew of short films, web series, fan films and even a Star Wars Musical which is a parody of the first Star Wars movie.”
The year’s show brings a slate of entertainment for hard-core cosplayers and casual comic fans alike.
The event will host more than 100 panels, 300 artist alley exhibitors and more than 475 exhibitors, according to organizers. Panel attendees include such comic- and action-savvy stars as John Barrowman (Merlin from Arrow), Chloe Bennet (Skye on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Peter Shinkoda and Tommy Walker (Daredevil) and Maitland Ward Baxter (Boy Meets Girl).
But if you’re in it to do more than just soak up the celebrity sightings, fear not: various writers and artists from television, film, and comic books will be on hand to teach you tricks of the trade. These pros will be featured in speaker panels ranging from Breaking into Hollywood and How to Conquer the Animation World to the Psychology of Daredevil.
Toss in those requisite Star Wars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (complete with Buffy star Nicholas Brandon) panels, a few well-known cosplayers like Nicole Marie Jean, Vampy Bit Me and Vegas Power Girl, and you’ve got yourself a bonafide Comic Con, one of the most colorful events to take place at the Long Beach Convention Center this year.
“We’re often compared to San Diego ComicCon in its earliest days, which I take as a huge compliment since I attended SDCC in those days and loved the vibe of the show,” said Donato. “It was exciting and intimate at the same time. We like to maintain a strong core of comic book talent and content—that’s where our strongest relationship are, and they are the people who have supported us each and every year.”
Long Beach Comic Con’s focus really is about bringing together comic enthusiasts to share ideas on creating stories, as well as meeting people with similar passions.
In fact, the learning theme has extended to a collaboration between Long Beach Comic Con and the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles. The Girl Scouts opened up registration to 200 Girl Scouts from underserved areas, affording them the opportunity to meet female creators, according to Donato.
“Due to generous donations and grants, girls take part in a program that includes meeting comic professionals, playing laser tag and attending a workshop where they can earn their Comic Book Artist badge,” said Donato. “It’s genuinely inspirational, both as the Executive Director of the convention and as a mother of two. And Chloe Bennet who plays Skye on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be giving the girls their badges which will be amazing to see.”
Magic shows and a long-awaited Inaugural Long Beach Space Expo round out the weekend’s programming of both learning and entertainment.
The Space Expo will combine scientific discovery with comic enthusiasm, curated by the Columbia Memorial Space Center. The center is focused on bringing “science and learning” to people of all ages, according to a release. The expo will feature at least five panels geared toward bridging science and entertainment, including a panel that features Andre Bormanis, a scientific researcher who served as a science consultant for Star Trek. Other panels feature scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), with a focus on engineering, exploring new horizons in space, and planning martian “road trips.”
“The Space Expo is an innovative way to connect the public to space and science,” said Columbia Memorial Space Center President Ben Dickow. “Instead of making people come to us, we're taking science and technology to them with two full days of activities and speakers who are at the top of the space field. The Expo will give the public the opportunity to interact directly with NASA professionals and space explorers. We've put together the largest collection of JPL scientists we know of, outside of an academic conference, all ready to share their love of space with you!”
With two days left till “go time” and a wholehearted love of all things Comic Con, Donato says she’s ready.
“For me, it’s spending months and months putting everything together and seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces as they enjoy the experience,” Donato said. “The very best moment? It’s that first hour when we open the doors on Saturday morning and the guests flood in and I get to say hi to fans who have been attending for years.”
Long Beach Comic Con will take place on Saturday, September 12 from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm and Sunday, September 13 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm at the Long Beach Convention Center. The show opens to advance ticket holders both days at 9:30 AM. Tickets are available now, through the website.
Left: Long Beach Comic Con Executive Director Martha Donato. Photos courtesy of superfanpromotions.com.