Cultural Junk Drawer – Long Beach Comic Con 2015: A View From Behind the Booth

As I pass by my fifth Harley Quinn in thirty feet I’m conflicted; should I make a mental note to send Paul Dini and Bruce Timm an edible arrangement or leave a bag of flaming poop on their doorsteps? On the one hand it’s great to see the geek culture so widely accepted. Even ten years ago there would have only been a handful of girls attending something like Long Beach Comic Con.

I don’t believe in the “best kept secret” concept for cultural events, only for breakfast places on Sunday morning (my heart sank when lines started forming outside the Honeybaked Café near my house about a year ago, Sundays around 11:00 am). A cry for diversity is never as loud as when you are surrounded by a bunch of white guys dressed as Klingons and/or Spiderman. If nothing else at least the wobbling mass of people gathered at the convention center have color and variety. Gripe all you want about girls wearing bow ties and fezzes to these things but Doctor Who wouldn’t be a global sensation without the new blood. Since I want to keep Doctor Who on the air for another fifty years (well, thirty five in sequence… you know what I mean) I’m personally happy to have ‘em.

On the other hand the wobbling mass of people, about thirty five percent of them Harley Quinn, are preventing me from reaching the FanboyNation booth!

Perhaps I’m just grumpy. I have a sore throat since last night, I’ve gotten about two hours sleep, and I had to wait in line to pay for parking almost as long as it took me to get down to Long Beach from Northridge.

 

parking

Is this the line for registration? A panel for John Barrowman? A signing for Nichelle Nichols? Sunday breakfast at Honey Baked?

After my traditional run in with security:

“I’m press and I have a booth!”

“Press is gathering over there.”

I turn and look and all I see are four Harley Quinns, a guy in a Portal t-shirt, a stormtrooper, and a tween cosplaying as Starfire (which garners a confused reaction from me at best.)

I get my badge from FanboyNation founder/fooze-ball enthusiast/part time ostrich rancher R.C. Samo, who is waiting for me, and stroll right past the pork chop in a polo shirt that just sent me in the other direction.

The booth is already filled with my friends from the Growing Up Geek podcast (Chad, Jaime, and Shannon), as well as Sofia Osuna, Samo, and a few of the gals from our sister site FangirlNation (one of them cosplaying as… you guessed it, Harley Quinn). So the booth is pretty full. I drop my bag, set up copies of my graphic novel Crazy Mary (With IDW rockstar J. K. Woodward on art duties) at the corner of the table, sit down for a moment, then decide I’m gonna take a stroll around the hall.

The hall is a labyrinthine kinda set-up; the layout seemed to want to have a grid system but got bored with that routine somewhere around the sixteenth Funko pop retailer and decided to mix things up.

What is it about these cute little chibi-esque vinyl dolls? I paid no attention till last year when I noticed an entire wall of my comic book store was covered with them. Suddenly they were EVERYWHERE! Was this because I had finally noticed them or had they reached escape velocity (culturally and retail speaking) just before and I was seeing them everywhere now! Game of Thrones Funko pop at Target, Greedo Funko pop at my comic book store, Duck Dynasty Funko Pop at the $.99 store (not kidding BTW)! The vast licensing they have guarantees there is something for everyone, which is good if you need a cheap holiday gift, but bad if you’re a fan of Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel movies, Batman, Beatles, Cthulhu, Alien, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Big Trouble in Little China, Back to the Future, Supernatural, or just about any other geek related entertainment.

I pass enough Harley Quinn’s that I start mentally deleting them.

To its credit the groupings still make some sense; islands of indie comic booths breaking up a sea of toy retailers. The cosplay guilds are all kinda grouped together; next booth over from FanboyNation is a Doctor Who cosplay group booth, and around the corner are Sith Lords, Browncoats, and Mandalorians. I wonder when the guild of Harley Quinn cosplayers is going to form. They could do charity events, have giant hammer making workshops, and have mixers with the 501st. Beyond that is a layout of tables demoing games. I try to start a Batman Fluxx card game but there are some kids’ neck deep in a Cartoon Network Fluxx game and nobody else so I move on.

The con almost has something for everyone (provided everyone has some interest in geek related culture, not gonna find much Fantasy Football stuff going on here), including indie comic publishers and a few bigger publishers, comic dealers, movie posters, original art (though I feel the manga styled Sherlock/Watson and/or Science Bros gay themed watercolor stuff is a little underrepresented here, but that’s why we have Anime Expo). There is a really cool NASA related space and robot section which can be seen from about anywhere in the room because of the giant inflatable space shuttle. I would like to suggest to the next auto dealer that wants a great giant inflatable object to loom over their President’s day sale should ditch the giant Bear and go with a Space Shuttle. Space shuttles are cool, bears are jerks.

There are plenty of panels to check out. I don’t really do panels anymore, though. I usually don’t feel like waiting in line for forty five minutes to catch a sizzle reel of a show I don’t have time to watch anyway. Plus working in the film business makes me sensitive to clips of genre shows; everything takes place at a night exterior. You see a trio of Dracula’s brides doing a Sex in the City thing in modern day New York, I see a Canadian film crew getting to sleep at 8am Saturday morning and missing out on Jr’s hockey game or log throwing tournament or whatever the hell our neighbors to the north do. Hate to be a grump but I did mention I have a sore throat.

J.K. Woodward comes by for an interview. J.K. is a good friend so he forgives me for the (false) promise of beer at the booth. FanboyNation founder, ex-underground pit fighter, and six time Maricopa County fair BBQ chicken competition blue ribbon winner R.C. Sammo joins in. You can hear it here.

The day ends with skillet queso, Jameson’s whisky, a 1960’s Hulk pinball machine, and Star Trek – Wrath of Khan as I crash at J.K.’S pad.

The sore throat and runny nose allows for only about three hours sleep. Overtired, sick, and tussined-up is the way more people experience cons than are willing to admit. A gender swapped Harley Quinn and Joker posing for a picture with a Master Chief in a tutu only serve to support this suspicion.

I hit the ground running with a Growing up Geek interview with Tone Ellis De Jesus of Pop Culture Classroom, an educational curriculum/convention focusing on, radically, comics to teach kids everything from storytelling, structure, design, critical analysis, and a host of other things words and pictures can do. I’m stunned when he informs me that the academic elite of Colorado don’t refer to comics as “Funny books” and love the approach of PCC.

After mentally deleting all the Harley Quinn’s and lunch I’m ready to call it quits but one of the other interviews I was angling for is gonna happen so I resolve to slug it out. The interview is the lovely adult star Vicki Chase who is a fangirl with a growing interest in cosplay. I also want to interview her boyfriend Mike Moz who played Charles Xavier in X-Men XXX porn parody, which I’ve reviewed for continuity errors here, but he’s pretty shy. So Chad and I just chat with Vicki about her role as Tiger Lilly in the upcoming (paradoxically) adult adaptation of Peter Pan.

It’s been fun here at LBCC but I am barely holding it together. Mercifully, I can leave now. I say my goodbyes and drag myself home for more cold medicine and extended bedtime. I hit the sheets; my head filled with cold medicine and visions of Vicki Chase as Harley Quinn. I can’t wait for next year.

 

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