|LEGENDARY. Stan Lee, creator of such comic books as “Spider-Man,” “The Incredible Hulk” and “X-Men,” receives a proclamation from First District Councilman Robert Garcia at the first ever Long Beach Comic Con on Friday. —Gazette photo by Thomas Wasper|
By Julian Bermudez
Gazette Arts Writer
A couple of months ago, I wrote about San Diego Comic Con International’s Mecca-like influence on the masses. After 40 years, the “Con” has become a place where the inner geek is embraced, and where pop-culture aficionados join other like-minded folks to share in the common joys of all things comic books, sci-fi, literature, film and video games.
Given the throngs of fans who attended last July’s event, it’s no surprise that Long Beach got into the game with “Long Beach Comic Con.”
It took place last weekend at the Long Beach Convention Center and produced by MAD Event Management, “Long Beach Comic Con” presented a plethora of the industry’s best and brightest comic book talent, publishers, gaming companies, special guests and must-attend programming sessions.
In an earlier interview, Martha Donato, president of MAD Event Management, told the Gazette’s Darcy Leigh Richardson, “Other comics-related events have happened in Long Beach in the past, but this weekend’s event has an all-star slate of comic writers, creators and artists along with several mass media celebrities that could rival the San Diego Comic Con International.”
Even Marvel Comics, one of the industry’s leading publishers, got into the spirit of things. To demonstrate their support for this new event, the company offered a limited-edition “Amazing Spiderman” #606 comic book with a variant cover by J. Scott Campbell given exclusively for attendees who pre-ordered their tickets.
The biggest highlight of the event, however, was having Mr. Marvel himself, Stan “The Man” Lee host the ribbon cutting at the event’s opening. Lee is best known for creating iconic super-hero fan favorites like The Fantastic Four, The Avengers, The X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, and Spider-Man.
Mr. Lee also was the guest of two meet-and-greets where he, along with famed comic artist Jim Lee (no relation), met with fans and signed a variety of media. This was a major coup, especially since Mr. Lee rarely makes appearances.
Other notable artists included Karl Alstaetter, Mike Choi, Amanda Conner, Brett Lewis, Rob Liefield, Scott Lobdell, Jeph Loeb, Dustin Nguyen, Whilce Portacio, Trevor Roth, Alex Sinclair, Mark Waid, Scott Williams and more.
Lionsgate Films, Aspen Entertainment, Nintendo and Barnes and Noble Long Beach were some of the exhibitors seen on the showroom floor. The best discovery was Silver Comics, an up-and-coming comic book publisher resurrecting the artistic style of the Silver Age (1956-1970).
A few years ago, Anime Expo — a convention focusing on Japanese comic books and animation — took place at the Convention Center, drawing thousands of people. Unfortunately, it got too big and had to be moved somewhere else the following year, leaving fans hungry for more.
Long Beach Comic Con was the perfect feast.
Saturday’s event brought in the largest crowd. At one point, fans stood in line for two hours waiting to meet artist Jim Lee, while others shopped for comic books, toys and original art.
“This (event) is what it’s all about: the comics, the artists, and the fans,” said Julie, 28, a self-professed fan. “If it comes back next year, I’ll be here!”
For more information on Long Beach Comic Con, visit www.longbeachcomiccon.com.