One of my favorite family activities is attending comic conventions like Long Beach Comic Expo! Though I’m not necessarily a heavy-duty comic book geek, I do enjoy seeing pop culture in action. My oldest son, though, gets a real kick out of it and seeing him happy makes me happy. This year, I’ll be heading to my first comic convention of the year, the Long Beach Comic Expo which will be held February 20-21 at the Long Beach Convention Center. I had the opportunity to attend last year and it has become one my favorite events for a few reasons. First off, this convention has everything that I love about the scene including amazing cosplay, an awesome artist alley, collectibles, and great fan panels. Secondly, although it may be a smaller convention, the crowd includes a lot of convention veterans which makes for a friendly and intimate event. What I mean is, since a lot of the attendees frequent all the other local conventions, most of them are friends or acquaintances.
If you’ve never been to a comic convention before, I think this one is a great starter. Some of the larger conventions can feel like sensory overload with so much to do and see. This two-day event lets you leisurely explore while still putting you in touch with some of the biggest names in the comic book industry. Aside from this, I’ve got some tips to share with first-timers who are looking for a fun new experience.
Long Beach Comic Expo Survival Guide
Wear comfortable shoes. You will be walking. A LOT. The main hall will be filled with vendors who will be selling everything from old comic books to collectible toys to geeky clothing and everything in between. Hours of wandering aisle after aisle can do a number on your feet so make sure that you keep them as happy as possible.
Bring cash. As mentioned, the main hall will be filled with tons of goodies that you’ll want to go home with. Unfortunately, some do not have the ability to process electronic payments, so before you leave home with just a handful of regret, bring enough cash to buy the things your heart desires. Plus, having cash can help you bargain for a deal!
Pack smart. You’ll be on the convention floor and maybe some panels all throughout the day. Make sure that you bring the things that you need since it will be a hassle to have to leave and come back. I always try to bring snacks and water in a backpack since convention food can be pretty pricey. Also bring a phone charger, especially if you plan to take a lot of pictures. If you like to collect comic books and art, remember to bring something that can hold them without bending them. Some vendors will sell poster protectors, but if you happen to have one at home, you might as well save yourself a little money. If you’re a parent with young kids, it’s also a good idea to triple check that you have everything you need before you leave your car (i.e. diapers, wipes, bottles, extra clothes, etc.).
Wear a costume. One of the best ways to get into the experience is to dress up. The costuming or cosplay is one of the biggest aspects of attending a convention. Comic conventions have spread beyond the realm of comic books to include movies, anime, television, and steampunk which means you have more options to wear a costume of a character or genre that you enjoy. Some people will spend months creating their costume. Don’t let that intimidate you! You don’t have to attend in some extravagant disguise to have fun. Wear something that is fun for you even if it’s just a hat or a wig!
Cosplay is not consent. Since the cosplay scene has blown up, more and more fans have joined in on costuming. Some are professionals who enjoy having their photos taken, while others do it for their own personal enjoyment. Yes, someone may have an incredible costume, but just because they attend in a costume does not mean you are entitled to take photos or touch them without their permission. It also does not mean that you are allowed to make insulting comments. Instead, as a general rule, treat others with respect. If you want a photo, ask nicely. If they reject the photo opp, move on kindly to the next. Likewise, if you are dressing up at a convention, you are not required to take photos with people who ask unless you feel comfortable with it.
Other than that, have fun! I know I’ll be having a lot of fun at the Long Beach Comic Expo. If you’re interested in attending, you can try to win a pair of weekend passes at PureCostumes.com. If you’d rather pay, you can find ticketing information on the event website here.
Have you attended a comic convention in the past? Share your experience by commenting below!