Superheroes clobber Long Beach Comic Con

In Features, Multimedia, Video

By Christine Amarantus
Daily Titan Features Editor

A fan dressed as the X-Men character, Wolverine, readies himself for an attack in the form of photo requests. Photo by Christine Amarantus.
A fan dressed as the X-Men character, Wolverine, readies himself for an attack in the form of photo requests. Photo by Christine Amarantus.
“Robot Chicken” writers, left, look on as fellow writer and actor Seth Green does an action pose with a member of the press corps dressed as the DC hero, Nightwing. Photo by Christine Amarantus.
“Robot Chicken” writer Tom Root, left, looks on as fellow writer and actor Seth Green does an action pose with a member of the press corps dressed as the DC hero, Nightwing. Photo by Christine Amarantus.

Wonder Woman croons Divinyls’ “I Touch Myself,” backed by comic book-loving rock band Kirby Krackle, as I walk into a darkened room in the Long Beach Convention Center. A man pulls off his shirt and whirls it over his head shouting along with the lyrics.

The room is filled with comic book artists just sitting around drawing and enjoying the occasional cocktail.

“Those are Aspen artists,” I marveled to myself. “There’s the guy who does ‘Mouse Guard.’ And, oh my God, is that Darick Robertson over there drawing Spider Israel?”

Such was the scene at Long Beach Comic Con, held last weekend, Oct. 2 – 4.

Unlike major conventions like San Diego Comic-Con where geek community celebs are often only at panels and then quickly whisked away, Long Beach’s first con was small, yet intimate and very surreal.

In its very first year, the convention snagged such guests as Stan Lee, Geoff Johns, Eric Roberts, J. Scott Campbell, members of the voice cast of the “Peanuts” cartoons and Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Berkley Breathed, creator of “Bloom County” which features Opus the penguin.
Breathed had never appeared at a convention before, and had only made one other public appearance.

At his presentation he announced his new work, “Cranky, Scary, Sweaty Faeries,” poking fun at the surge of interest in sappy fairy art.

Actors Seth Green and Thomas Jane and comic bigwigs Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee wandered the exhibit hall floor intermingling with fans and checking out what dealers had to offer.

At the Saturday panel for the Cartoon Network show “Robot Chicken,” Green and toy wrangler Hugh Sterbakov praised Long Beach Comic Con for placing the Artist Alley section in the complete center of the dealer hall. At most conventions, Artist Alley is off to the side or in another room.

Artist Alley is a section set aside for independent artists to sell their comics, sketches and pieces and meet with fans while also exposing their work to new eyes.

Green and Sterbakov were, however, disappointed by the lack of “Magic the Gathering” cards.

In an interview with the Daily Titan, Green said about the convention, “I thought it was good. It’s small, so the floor is manageable. There wasn’t a lot of action figures for sale beyond, like, ‘Star Wars,’ so … a little variety wouldn’t hurt.”

Green and Sterbakov co-created the comic book “Freshmen” which Sterbakov said is the “awesomest comic ever.”

The story follows outcast first-year college students who, following a “trademark superhero explosion,” Sterbakov explained, gain powers based on what they were thinking at the time of the explosion.

Of the convention, Sterbakov said, “It’s third to ‘Freshmen.’ I mean, there’s breathing, then ‘Freshmen,’

From left, “The Boys” and “Transmetropolitan” artist Darick Robertson, “Uncanny X-Men” and “Batman” artist Jim Lee, former NBC “Heroes” writer and producer Jeph Loeb and “The Amazing Spider-Man” artist J. Scott Campbell all signing at Golden Apple and Atomic Comics’ booth at Long Beach Comic Con on Oct. 3 in the Long Beach Convention Center. Fans waited in long lines to meet them and receive autographs and sketches on each of their respective works. Photo by Christine Amarantus.
From left, “The Boys” and “Transmetropolitan” artist Darick Robertson, “Uncanny X-Men” and “Batman” artist Jim Lee, former NBC “Heroes” writer and producer Jeph Loeb and “The Amazing Spider-Man” artist J. Scott Campbell all signing at Golden Apple and Atomic Comics’ booth at Long Beach Comic Con on Oct. 3 in the Long Beach Convention Center. Fans waited in long lines to meet them and receive autographs and sketches on each of their respective works. Photo by Christine Amarantus.
Boba Phat and Tusken Raver could be found strolling through the exhibit hall throughout the convention. Photo by Christine Amarantus.
Boba Phat and Tusken Raver could be found strolling through the exhibit hall throughout the convention. Photo by Christine Amarantus.

then Long Beach Comic Con … It’s intimate. It’s a great place to be. I love the floor. I love the energy there. On the floor, you can smell comics which is awesome because you can’t at other comic conventions.”

The “Robot Chicken” team is also working on their new show “Titan Maximum,” in which 100 years in the future the solar system has been colonized and Titan, a moon of Saturn, is guarded by a giant robot.

“We just wanted to have fun and do a show like the giant robot shows that we grew up with in the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, and that is ‘Titan,’” said Tom Root, a writer, producer and voice actor for “Robot Chicken,” and also a co-creator of “Titan Maximum.”

Upon hearing that my wingwoman, copy editor/“Nerdgasm” columnist Ashleigh Johnson, and I were from the Daily Titan, Root’s eyes lit up. The Daily Titan was going to be the name of the paper on the new show, but the idea was scrapped. What a shame.

The con featured screenings of Jane’s movies “Dark Country” and a black-and-white print of “The Mist.”

“Dark Country” is Jane’s directorial debut, starring himself, Ron Perlman and Lauren German. The film, which was shown in 3-D, hit shelves Oct. 6.

“It was really, really rewarding. This is the most people who have ever seen the movie … the most people who have seen the movie (before Comic Con) was, like, 20,” Jane said.

Of the convention, the “Punisher” star said he was enjoying it, most especially getting to show off “Dark Country.”

To be honest, Jane almost had me swooning just hearing his Southern accent. Following the “Dark Country” screening, he threw out cast/crew shirts to audience members while biting down on a cigar in a very Wolverine-like way. Sigh.

DC Comics, Aspen, Top Cow, and Boom! Studios had their own Q&As with fans curious about what the companies might have in store.

“We’ve got all new stories featuring the Disney/Pixar characters everyone knows and loves,” said Chip Mosher, the marketing director for Boom! Studios, of the Boom! Kids division.

Backed by the comic book band, Kirby Krackle, a few convention goers sing Divinyls’ “I Touch Myself” during a party thrown by Golden Apple and Atomic Comics the first night of the convention, Oct. 2. Photo by Christine Amarantus.
Backed by the comic book band, Kirby Krackle, a few convention goers sing Divinyls’ “I Touch Myself” during a party thrown by Golden Apple and Atomic Comics the first night of the convention, Oct. 2. Photo by Christine Amarantus.
Superhero creator Stan Lee, right, signs comics for fans next to legendary comic artist Jim Lee at Long Beach Comic Con, Saturday, Oct. 3. Stan Lee created such characters as Spider-man, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men. Jim Lee’s interpretations of characters like the X-Men are those which most fans recognize, used in the ’92 Fox cartoon series. Photo by Christine Amarantus.
Superhero creator Stan Lee, right, signs comics for fans next to legendary comic artist Jim Lee at Long Beach Comic Con, Saturday, Oct. 3. Stan Lee created such characters as Spider-man, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men. Jim Lee’s interpretations of characters like the X-Men are those which most fans recognize, used in the ’92 Fox cartoon series. The Long Beach Comic Con was held Oct. 2 – 4 in the Long Beach Convention Center. Photo by Christine Amarantus.

Fans at Boom!’s panel were pleased to hear the company will be reprinting classic Disney comics like “The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.”

The convention’s programming director, Buddy Scalera, spoke proudly of Long Beach Comic Con’s maiden voyage.
“We got some great panels … Some amazing stuff is going on here,” he said.

Radio-TV-film major Francis Szyskowski was on hand for panels on professional wrestling, especially in conjunction with local company Mach One Wrestling.

“It’s not as big as San Diego Comic-Con yet. It’s the first year,” he said about Long Beach Comic Con. “But it’s kind of like they trimmed the fat that got in the way … It’s actually kind of cool to not have to fight my way through 3,000 people in one little area.”

Truthfully, Long Beach Comic Con’s first year will always have a special place in this geek girl’s heart. Though small, it was a mouse that roared.

Long Beach’s convention center has been used for other fan conventions like Wizard World LA, in its first years, and Anime Expo.

Not wanting to only be known as a stepping stone for other cons that went on to set up shop in the larger Los Angeles facility next to Staples Center in downtown, the city really stepped up and put together a solid and very fun convention.

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, held Oct. 2, superhero creator Stan “The Man” Lee, who had the honor of clipping the ribbon with comically large scissors, was presented with certificates designating Oct. 2 “Stan Lee Day” in the city of Long Beach.

Kudos, LBC. You did it. You really did it.

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  • jezabel

    Boba Phat & Tusken Raver were the best costumes there!!

  • Christian Hill

    Four CSUF graduates from our Visual Arts Department had tables in Artist Alley. Two had publication credits and convention experience: Doug Sirois (digital painter on the Hercules comic book by Radical) and Patrick Scullin (creator of Super Siblings, a webcomics). Trey Hodges and Robert Tsai inaugurated their ventures into comics with a children’s friendly superhero graphic novel in development (for Hodges) and character designs (for Tsai). It’s nice to see more and more CSUF grads at booths and tables at both small and huge comics conventions, like the San Diego Comic Con (where we always have many students and alums exhibiting, as well as instructors giving presentations).

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