Long Beach Comic Expo 2016

I wrote a board-game-centric review of the Long Beach Comic Expo here and I said it was a throwback to my youth. The LBCE reminded me of my time spent at the San Diego Comic Con, back before it took over the entire convention center when it was all about the comics, with cosplay, gaming, and all other pop culture phenomena took a backseat to the printed page and those responsible for them.

Here are a few more thoughts and photos about the glorious day I spent in the LBC.

First, I’d like to give myself a pat on the back for being able to wander around the aisles and NOT dump my wallet’s contents onto each table. It was insanely difficult not emptying my bank account on so many cool things. Thankfully, you didn’t need to be well-funded to enjoy the con. One of my first stops was at the Long Beach Public Library table, where I chatted with one of the representatives about their services. I’m a huge fan of libraries, so I made a mental note to visit the one in Long Beach the next time I’m in town. The young lady working the booth told me about some of the library’s features, then showed me how to make my own button. I chose Darth Vader, of course, so my backpack was bedazzled for the rest of the day.

Free make-your-own Darth Vader button.

Free make-your-own button at the Long Beach Public Library table. Kylo Ren would’ve loved my backpack.

It was great seeing the locals representing at the con. In addition to the public library, the Columbia Memorial Space Center had a big presence in the hall. Kids and adults alike were amazed by the science demonstrations, the space suit displays, the build-your-own-rocket table, and more.

Ground Control to Major Tom.

Ground Control to Major Tom.

This was something I really appreciated: the amount of families I saw hanging out together. Not everybody was dressed up, but there was definitely a family-friendly vibe all around. I was glad I ran into these light-saber-wielding folk.

The Force runs strong in this family.

The Force runs strong in this family.

This young lady had the best ride of them all.

Perfect ride for an afternoon on Endor.

Perfect ride for an afternoon on Endor.

One thing I’ll always love about these types of conventions: you never know who you’ll run into.

Thanks for the selfie, Artoo!

Thanks for the selfie, Artoo!

This was terrific marketing: a $35 box of goodies worth $50. I’m not sure what was inside, but those boxes were definitely an excellent way to sell stuff. I saw a lot of people carrying these things around.

No, you don't grow after punching one of these.

No, you don’t grow after punching one of these.

I love the fact that a KISS tribute band had their own booth. Looking forward to seeing these guys someday.

You wanted cosplay, you got cosplay. The hottest (tribute) band in the land ... KISS!

You wanted cosplay, you got cosplay. The hottest (tribute) band in the land … KISS!

Pew! Pew! Pew!

Ran into a walking carpet and a scoundrel.

Ran into a walking carpet and a scoundrel.

Lots of Star Wars cosplayers here.

IMG_20160220_150148 (1)

The 501st Legion FTW.

The Force Awakened.

The Force Awakened.

I swear I’m not just a Star Wars fan. Here are a bunch of photos of various cosplayers. Enjoy!

The Mask.






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From beginning to end, I couldn’t be happier with the LBCE. Yes, it was a throwback to my younger SDCC-going days, but it also proved that today’s geekdom is in excellent hands. Kudos to all involved for making the event such a blast. I can’t wait to do it again.

Final note: I couldn’t resist one more Star Wars costume. This hip hop stormtrooper had his boombox blasting hip hop classics and got more than a few people dancing. It was the perfect way to end a day spent geeking out.



Day 310: Daredevil

Daredevil on Netflix.

Daredevil on Netflix.

I recently posted about how much my wife and I are enjoying Gotham. After a few episodes, I decided to start watching Daredevil on Netflix.

Needless to say, the rest of Gotham has been put on hold.

I’m three-quarters of the way into the first season and so far Daredevil has been superb. He’s one of my favorite superheroes, but I put off starting the series because I was scarred from the Ben Affleck version. It was okay, but nowhere near as gritty as I thought it should be. And Affleck didn’t do it for me as a superhero (which is why I’m sure I’ll put off watching Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice).

I grew up on Frank Miller’s version of The Man Without Fear, which was gritty before gritty was cool. The Born Again storyline, along with The Big Three (Maus, Watchmen, and The Dark Knight Returns) changed the way I looked at comic books.

The Netflix series has been everything I wanted from Daredevil. It’s not about a superhero saving the world, but rather the story of a city, Hell’s Kitchen in New York, and the people trying to control it/save it. It’s more like The Wire, which is only the greatest TV show ever. There are no corny one-liners or sly nods to the audience. The fight scenes aren’t over-the-top, and the fight in episode two where Daredevil goes into the heart of bad guys’ sanctuary was an all-time great.

Yes, a show produced for the small (and mobile) screen has an all-time superhero scene. Television, or what we call TV these days, has come a long way and mostly for the better.

Day 303: Supergirl



What a great time to be a comic-book fan. It feels like there’s a constant supply of movies and TV shows featuring superheroes. Whether it’s Daredevil on Netflix or Arrow on the CW, the Avengers or Batman on the big screen, this has to be the Golden Age of comic book superheroes on the screen.

We had a minor comic book character like Ant-Man headlining a big-budget summer blockbuster and it was terrific. And as long as there’s money to be made, the studios will continue making this type of entertainment.

My question is, when does the bubble burst?

There have been some flops (John Carter, anyone?), but that hasn’t stopped Hollywood from bankrolling comic book superheroes. This is a good thing because Supergirl made it to the small screen this week.

I never read the Supergirl comic book. Or saw the 80s adaptation. But the pilot for the show was terrific: fast-paced, comic-booky, family-friendly, action-packed, and with enough plot to make me want to continue watching. And I loved the cameos from Superman-related actors as well as the reimagined Jimmy “James” Olson.

My wife’s not a big comic book fan or sci-fi fan, but she enjoyed Supergirl as much as I did. I know it’s only the first episode, so we’ll see how the rest of the season plays out, but so far I’m impressed.

Day 290: Star Wars Comic

Bigfoot, er, Chewbacca.

Bigfoot, er, Chewbacca.

Today at the library I came across the reissue of the Star Wars comic from 1977. As a kid I wore out my oversized copy after numerous readings, even though I didn’t think the characters looked like the movie stars. I was so Star Wars-obsessed that it didn’t matter that Chewbacca looked like Bigfoot, Luke and Obi-Wan seemed more muscular, or that there were scenes that weren’t in the film.

The reissue of the first six issues in this hardback edition covers all of the Episode IV movie and features new coloring. I got through half of the book and two things stand out: Chewie still looks like Bigfoot (seen above) and the Special Edition scene with Jabba the Hutt is here, but with an entirely different take on the crime lord (seen below).

Also worth noting: there’s an early scene with Biggs and Luke talking about joining the Rebellion and Luke’s comment about the Tosche Station isn’t whiny at all.

Jabba the Hutt, the 1977 comic book version.

Jabba the Hutt, the 1977 comic book version.

Day 269: Batman Day

Batman Day

Batman Day

I didn’t plan on watching my first episode of Gotham last night, the eve of Batman Day. It was one of those funny coincidences; after I finished watching, I checked social media and the first thing I read was about Batman Day. So, of course, I had to find a way to celebrate and luckily I was able to drag my wife to the local comic book store, where we did some window shopping and took a photo with a Joker cosplayer.

When I was a kid devouring comic books, I was all about Marvel. My closest friends who liked comic books were also Marvel geeks, so it was easier to relate to everybody since we all operated in the same comic book universe. We weren’t into the cheesy Superman and Justice League; they just weren’t as cool as Spiderman or the Avengers.

But I always loved Batman. I’ll never forget the oversized Batman annual that my dad bought for me. I read that thing until cover fell off. I don’t recall the particular details of the stories, but I do remember how frightening the Scarecrow and Two-Face seemed. Batman was scary, too; he did not resemble the Adam West version that I’d watched on TV every week.

Of course, I was fortunate that I was a teenager during the release of the Big Three: Maus, Watchmen, and The Dark Knight Returns. While I wouldn’t read Maus or Watchmen until a few years later, The Dark Knight changed the way we would see Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego.

And that’s what I love about all of the comic book universes: they’re constantly up for re-examination and re-interpretation by each generation. I’ve seen several versions of the Batman and enjoy each one (for the record, Frank Miller’s Year One is probably my favorite).

So, even though Gotham is not focused on Batman, it is set in his world, with Bruce Wayne at the pivotal moment of the first episode. It’s another re-imagining of the myth; one that continues to entertain and enlighten.

Day 200: Ant-Man

  • Ant-Man


It’s been awhile since I’ve been to the movies, so I was excited to see Ant-Man. He wasn’t a major character in the Marvel Universe comics, but he proved to be a worthy addition to the Marvel Universe films.

I didn’t think Paul Rudd could be a superhero. I loved him in Anchorman, I Love You Man, and Knocked Up (one of my favorite lines ever: “I got Matsui”). He didn’t strike me as an actor that could carry a comic-book-turned-movie.

Thankfully, Rudd plays it just right. He doesn’t take things too seriously nor does he overdo the snarkiness and strikes the right balance between both. There are a few winks to the audience about the silliness of the whole thing, but it never feels patronizing or demeaning.

I didn’t find out until the credits rolled that Edgar Wright had a hand in the screenplay and realized that’s why I liked Ant-Man so much. Wright’s a master at this type of pop-culture fare.

It’s the perfect summer blockbuster. Yes, it’s silly and predictable, but it’s also a lot of fun and likable.

And it’s got me fired up to get back into my AFI Top 100 challenge.

Day 132: Score

Used graphic novel and DVD

Used graphic novel and DVD

I love my local library, especially the adjacent Friends of the Library bookstore, which is where I’ve scored a lot of fantastic used (and sometimes new) books, DVDs, and other goodies. The items are typically in great shape and sell for a fraction of their retail price.

Today after my last appointment I stopped by the bookstore and couldn’t believe my luck. I found a near-new copy of Saga of the Swamp Thing, by one of my favorite writers, Alan Moore. And right across the aisle I stumbled upon the movie Prison On Fire, starring one of my favorite actors, Chow Yun-Fat. I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t read or seen either of these classics, but thanks to the bookstore and a measly seven bucks, I’ll be enjoying them soon.

Day 72: Big Day Preview


Hulk smash!

We stopped in the local comic book store tonight to do a little browsing. I’m not a regular, but I feel at home here. The staff is great and there’s so much to look at and it stirs up all of my childhood memories and emotions. The comic book industry has changed immensely since I frequented stores 30+ years ago. Comics are a bigger part of popular culture now and gaming is a huge part of the scene as well.

The biggest change, though, is the amount of cool stuff that’s out there now. Tonight I could’ve walked out with an R2-D2 backpack, a Spiderman Jell-O mold, and a Walking Dead purse (for my wife, obviously). These were things we didn’t even dream of owning back in the day.

The store is participating in Free Comic Book Day. I haven’t been to one in years and planned on going to this one when I realized May 2, 2015, is going to be a HUGE day: Free Comic Book Day, the Kentucky Derby, and the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight.

I’m excited and already getting tired just thinking about it. And I can’t wait.