Despite only being one day, Long Beach Comic Con’s baby convention, Comic Expo, which teeters on the halfway point between their last and upcoming conventions, attracted more an a thousand fans and collectors on Saturday.
Though weather forecasts predicted rain, it was nothing but sunshine and cool breezes for Superman, Batman, Darth Vader and other cosplayers (fans who came in costume).
“Our costumes are custom-made … specifically for being screen accurate, to look as close to the characters as possible,” said Franklin Teng, who came dressed as Kato from “The Green Hornet.”
Of the convention, Teng said, “I see cosplayers and I think it’s going to be great. I’m impressed.”
Although Comic Expo was relegated to a single ballroom on the south side of the Long Beach Convention Center, and some of the guests, like Lou Ferrigno, did not appear, everyone made the most of it. Captain America, Spiderman and Superman cosplayers took up an empty table and pretended to be “American Idol” judges as a con-goer crooned for their listening pleasure. “So am I going to Hollywood?” he asked, jumping up and down.
Exhibitors like Los Angeles’ Golden Apple Comics were on hand to provide comic fans with fuel for their collecting addictions.
“This Long Beach show has been a lot of fun. I think it had a better turn-out than expected,” said Golden Apple owner Ryan Liebowitz. “The room’s a little bit smaller than people were expecting, but we crammed all of the good stuff from one of the big cons into a small con, which is kind of fun. You’ve got guys like Mike Mignola over here … It’s amazing what you can (do) with a small ballroom with a bunch of passionate people about comic books.”
Mignola, the creator of the comic book series, “Hellboy,” now a major motion picture with its own sequel, sketched and signed comics at the convention.
“You live in the shadow of the movie version of your thing,” he said in comment to being a comic creator with a movie based on his work. “I’m not complaining. It’s great that there’s something out there that makes the character known, and you do hope that a certain number of people will discover the character from having seen the movie and end up picking up the books … It’s something to elevate your thing from the zillions of the other comics on the rack.
Regarding the convention, Mignola said it was small and “cute.”
“It’s a lot less stress than the major shows I’m used to doing, so it’s a very pleasant show,” he said.
Fellow comic book creator Stan Sakai also remarked on hearing great things about last October’s Comic Con in Long Beach, which hosted Comic Expo, and jumped at the invitation to the single-day convention.
Sakai’s creation, “Usagi Yojimbo,” turns 26 this year. He said that when he started, he had trouble thinking of what story to write and draw for the following month.
“Now I’m thinking I’ve laid down groundwork for stories I’m going to tell five years from now,” he said.
Sakai hinted that he would like to put out a six issue miniseries for the more futuristic “Space Usagi,” and a “War of the Worlds” story.
“What if Martians had sent out a scout ship a couple centuries earlier and it landed in Japan?” he said. “There will be giant robots and all kinds of things.”
Comic Expo, while short, was also a great source for bargains. Graphic novels that normally run $15-30 were knocked down to $5 all around. Hardcover books were knocked as low as 80 percent off. Bins of 25 cent comics ruled the day for treasure hunters.
The only real criticism came from Superman, a fan donning the tights and cape of the “man of steel,” who only further identified himself as Kal-El.
“(Comic Expo)’s pretty decent. It could be better,” he said. “You’ve got a lot of writers and artists, not a lot of stars. Lou Ferrigno, get your butt out here next time.”