A couple weekends ago, we attended the Long Beach Comic Expo, which took place February 20-21 at the Long Beach Convention Center. We were only able to attend on Saturday, but read on as Violet recaps how our day went!
MAD Event Management, LLC puts on two comic conventions in Long Beach each year: Long Beach Comic Expo in the Spring, and Long Beach Comic Con in the Fall. Last September was our first time attending Long Beach Comic Con. Likewise, this was our first time attending Long Beach Comic Expo.
Although the show started at 10:00am on Saturday morning, we got there a bit late, considering that Open Registration for San Diego Comic-Con had taken place that morning. By the time we got to Long Beach, it was a little before noon. Remembering the difficulty with parking we had had at Long Beach Comic Con in September, we weren’t sure what parking was going to be like this time around, especially since they were using a different entrance, the “Seaside Lobby” entrance. Last time, we had walked over from the parking garage at the Pike, but now that they were using the entrance on the other side of the convention center, we decided to take our chances and see if we could find anything closer. Luckily, we had no trouble parking right across the street from the new entrance, which cost $10.
Like last time, there were some themed vehicles there, but there wasn’t as much room to display them on this side of the building, so it seemed like there weren’t quite as many as there had been at Long Beach Comic Con. There were two food trucks and a shaved ice truck parked outside of the building, as well as a Nesquik truck parked nearby, with people handing out free bottles of Nesquik. Additionally, being that Columbia Memorial Space Center had partnered with LBCE like it had for LBCC, there was a tent for it outside, as well as some telescopes.
We were hungry, so we decided to get some food from one of the food trucks. There were a couple of large tables at which to sit down, but they were pretty full, so we sat down on a curb off to the side, and tried to stay out of the way of all the cosplayers having photo shoots done in the area. It was a little before 12:30pm by the time we decided to go inside and check in. At this point, being so late in the day, we didn’t see any lines for attendee check-in. As for Press check-in, we were able to walk right up and get our Press badges without any wait. Then we walked underneath the Long Beach Comic Expo banner and into the Exhibit Hall.
Our main priority of the day was Alan Tudyk’s panel, which was scheduled at 1:30pm. We weren’t sure how early we would need to arrive for that, so we figured we should probably make our way over there to scope out the scene. However, we weren’t really sure where to go, this being a much different setup than at Long Beach Comic Con. We looked at the program guide and figured out that we needed to go back out past the banner and down a hallway next to it to get to the Meeting Rooms, which were downstairs.
Oddly enough, although staff members were vigilantly checking badges when people entered through the banner area to get to the Exhibit Hall, it didn’t seem like people were monitoring the meeting rooms area as much. Alan Tudyk’s panel was to take place in the “Thunderdome” room – which turned out to be a large open area, rather than a room with doors. Pretty much anyone could wander up and watch, or just pass through like they were going down a hallway.
The panel scheduled prior to Alan Tudyk’s panel was “Chase Masterson’s Pop Culture Hero Coalition & the Girl Scouts,” which was essentially an anti-bullying panel. It was a nice surprise to see Chase Masterson again so soon, as I almost feel like we’re friends after our close encounter the previous weekend at Gallifrey One. However, she soon called up all the Girl Scouts who had earned their comic book badge that morning, which was about 3/4 of the audience, and it didn’t look like there was anyone standing around waiting for Alan Tudyk, so we figured we could go check out something else without having to worry about missing out on getting into Alan Tudyk’s panel.
From Mars to the Stars
Having enjoyed a panel at Gallifrey One the weekend before which was an update on the Mars 2020 Mission, we decided to check out the “From Mars to the Stars” panel, and headed over to “The Final Frontier” room. We were a few minutes late, so missed the beginning, but there were plenty of seats available. There was one single panelist, aerospace engineer Louis Friedman, who led us through a slideshow. Friedman, author of Human Spaceflight: From Mars to the Stars, talked about his view that humans should reach and colonize Mars, so that we can have a two-world system, rather than having just one fragile world from which to pull resources, but he thinks humans won’t travel beyond Mars. He laid out the path that humans should use to reach Mars, beginning with landing on a Near Earth Asteroid, and using that as a stepping stone for getting to Mars. It was pretty interesting, and he allowed some time for Q&A at the end of his lecture. He did mention something that we learned the week before at the Mars 2020 Mission panel, which was the fact that the next mission was going to collect samples, but that they wouldn’t be able to be brought back yet. He commented it would be too expensive to send another (unmanned) mission to retrieve the samples. So that was cool that something was addressed in this panel that we had only recently learned about.
Alan Tudyk’s Con Man and Spectrum Comic!
When we wandered back over to the Thunderdome area, the Girl Scouts panel was still in session. There were people waiting against the wall at the back of the room (which, as I mentioned before, was more of just an open area that you can pass through, rather than an actual room with doors) who seemed like they were waiting for Alan Tudyk. There wasn’t really a line though, nor really a place that a line could go if there were one. I snapped a few pictures while we waited. One of the panelists was Tommy Walker, who played Francis in Daredevil, and who had also taken part in the Daredevil panel at Long Beach Comic Con last year. The Girl Scout panel wrapped up about 5-10 minutes later, and freed up almost all of the seats, allowing everyone waiting around to get a seat.
By the time Alan Tudyk’s panel started, I was surprised that there actually were a few seats still available. Even if there weren’t, there still would have been a good amount of standing room at the back. We happened to get seats on the right side of the room. Wouldn’t you know it that the panelists decided to sit on the left side of the stage. However, later a TV was set up on the right side of the stage, so at least we had a good view of that.
Anyway, so Alan Tudyk, Con Man producer PJ Haarsma, and Spectrum comic editor Shannon Eric Denton made up the panel. Upon taking the stage, Alan commented that a Con Man scene had actually been shot in this very room, so that was interesting to hear if you’ve seen Con Man. He then explained what Con Man was, in case there was anyone unfamiliar with it. (Personally, I was a supporter of the Kickstarter campaign from Day 1, but you can click here to learn more about it.) He then informed us that Spectrum (the name of the canceled show that Alan Tudyk’s character Cash had starred in on Con Man) is now a comic book, and that he has in fact written 2 so far. PJ Haarsma revealed that the first one is actually already “out the door,” and is currently being printed. Something else I learned, that I hadn’t been aware of before, was that Spectrum was based on a series of 4 Young Adult novels written by PJ Haarsma called Softwire. The first issue of Spectrum will be available on Free Comic Book Day, and the series covers how the group came together and what they’re searching for — and there are aliens.
It came up that Alan is starring in the next Star Wars film, Rogue One. An audience member shouted, “As a Stormtrooper?” Alan did say that he’s not in it as a Stormtrooper, but that he couldn’t tell us anything more than that.
We were going to watch some bloopers from Con Man, but when they turned on the TV, there was no audio. So, while that got fixed, Alan talked about the Spectrum comic some more, saying that the first issue focuses on Nathan Fillion’s character, James Rakker, and then focuses on Alan’s character, Cash Wayne, in the second. Alan exclaimed in dismay, “I wrote it and I still put Nathan first!” We also learned that the comic will be published by Automatic Publishing. Alan also mentioned that he had wanted to put some ads for random stuff in the middle of the comic, like older comics used to have, but he was voted down.
Finally, things got straightened out with the audio issues, and we watched some bloopers from Con Man, which will be on the Con Man DVD that will be released soon.
We were then shown some images from the upcoming Spectrum comic. The first issue, the one that will be available on Free Comic Book Day, will be an origin story, and is actually Issue #0. It will consist of 36 pages, which will be all comics and no filler. There will be a total of 4 issues, which includes Issue #0, followed by novels that give backstory.
Then they made a big announcement: they will soon be releasing Con Man: The Game, a mobile app in which you build your own con! The global launch will be at San Diego Comic-Con this summer. Speaking of SDCC, Alan recalled how last year, the day after the Con Man panel at SDCC, they flew to Quebec to meet with Frima Studio about the making of the game.
It was then opened to audience questions, which pretty much consisted of raising your hand and being called on. One audience member brought up how he’s a fan of Alan’s voice work in Halo, and this led to a funny story about how PJ and Alan actually first met because of Halo. Apparently Nathan Fillion and PJ were at a party, and Halo came up, and they ended up playing Halo together. Nathan would “audition” people to play with them, and one of them ended up being Alan — who wasn’t very good at Halo. Alan ended up being nicknamed “The Equalizer” because his scores were so low that it would equalize the others’ scores. For a period of about 2 years, they played Halo every Sunday night at PJ’s house!
As for Season 2 of Con Man, they’re in the middle of planning it. It’ll be on the same timeline as Season 1, so they’ll start shooting in June, and it will be out in the Fall, if all goes well. Regarding whether there would be a movie, they don’t know, but if so, it would be based on the comic books.
One person asked Alan if there was anything that surprised him while shooting Con Man, and he said that getting to work with other actors was more fun than he thought it would be — especially since he was in charge! He brought up the episode with Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica) and the baby doll convention, and talked about how he had originally written it that she was very prudish, but then when they went to kiss, she would “maul” him. However, he decided to change it to her having him kiss her on the cheek and her having an overdramatic reaction, because it was funnier.
Upcoming cons for Con Man include Silicon Valley Comic Con, WonderCon, and Calgary. They will actually have a Con Man booth for the first time.
When asked about dream actors that Alan would like to have on Con Man, he mentioned Tatiana Maslany and Norman Reedus — but also pointed out that the shows they are on shoot at the same time as Con Man, in June, so it’s unlikely he’d be able to get them.
Alan’s favorite role he’s played was Wash on Firefly, because that character was the closest to him as a person. However, he brought up the fact that he’s going to be on Star Wars, which he said was really fun.
At that point, the panel ran out of time, and the audience was informed that Alan would be heading to the Exhibit Hall to sign autographs and do photo ops.
The Exhibit Hall
We then went down and wandered around the Exhibit Hall, since we had only spent a couple of minutes upon first entering the con earlier. It didn’t seem very crowded, and we were able to walk the entire floor without any trouble pretty quickly. There was a Cosplay Corner section, Artist Alley, and exhibitors such as Aspen Comics, Skybound, Hollywood Sci-Fi Museum, etc. We also saw a laser tag area, for which it cost $2 to play. There was also a video game area, with two large inflatable screens that attendees played on. Oh, and one odd exhibitor was selling knives — and not any sort of superhero themed knives, but just regular kitchen knives, so that felt really out of place… One unexpected thing that we saw was that Matt Doherty, who played Averman in The Mighty Ducks, had a table set up, just in the middle of the floor, not even in the autograph area, so that was a nice surprise, having grown up watching those movies.
The Columbia Memorial Space Center was back, where you could watch 3D printers in action, had activity areas for kids, astronaut suits on display, and even an astronaut suit that you could climb into the back of and have your picture taken in.
Marvel Cosplay Photo Shoot
I knew there was supposed to be a Marvel cosplay photo shoot at 3pm, so at that time, we went out front to try to locate that. They weren’t right out in front, but we quickly spotted them using a stairway off to the side. They did different groups, such as Agent Carter characters, Netflix characters (Daredevil and Jessica Jones), all girls, all guys, and so forth. By the time we got there, there wasn’t really a good place to squeeze in to take photographs, so I stood up on a nearby (wobbly) table and took some pictures.
They finished up around 3:30pm. I had wanted to check out The Marvel Report’s cosplay panel that was scheduled to take place at 4:30pm, since I’m Twitter friends with the staff members. However, Josh wasn’t feeling very well (and was later diagnosed with cracked ribs), so we decided to head home.
Long Beach Comic Expo seemed a little smaller and less attended than Long Beach Comic Con. However, it seemed like everyone was just as enthusiastic about the show. Cosplayers were out in full force, and were fun to see. It felt like this show’s main focus was what a traditional comic convention focuses on: the comics and comic creators, considering that it included notable guests from the comic book world such as Chris Claremont, Len Wein, and Fabian Niciezca, just to name a few. Indeed, the main focus of even its “headliner” guest Alan Tudyk was on his upcoming comic book, Spectrum. However, it was nice that there were other panels offered that would appeal to geeks, such as the Space Expo panels. If you’re a big fan of comic books and don’t like crowds, Long Beach Comic Expo is the perfect show for you.
See our photo gallery below for more pictures from Long Beach Comic Expo!