An interview with the Long Beach Comic Con

Special Thanks to Shawn Marshall (aka: @The_Con_Fluence) for this interview with the Long Beach Comic Con:

So, it should be no surprise to you that I’m counting down the days until their next show, this October 29th (which as of this writing is only 43 days away!).  In anticipation of the show, I requested an interview to discuss the plans for this year and was extremely excited that Martha Donato, President of Mad Event Management, was able to take the time to fill me in on some of the exciting details.

SM: Although your first show was great, it felt like you took another big step forward with last year’s convention. So, how do you top your past successes in this third attempt?

MD: “For our third time out, we’ve decided to add several new elements that we hope will maintain our core audience’s interest while bringing in some new fans.  These additions include gaming tournaments with Cascade Games, a partner we’re really honored to be working with.  Tim Shields has been working with the likes of San Diego Comic-con and other large shows and we feel like we’re in great hands with him.  He’s going to bring a high level of professionalism and experience to the area and will have official sanctioned Magic: The Gathering and Worlds of Warcraft tournaments running all weekend.

We are also adding a Masquerade Ball on Saturday evening.  That’s something that we’ve wanted to do since year one, but we needed the right staff in place to run it.  It’s like its own event within an event.  It appeals to everyone from the hard-core cosplayer to the casual Halloween lover.  We’re going to follow-up the contest and showcase with a real party, so it’s going to be something really awesome.

 We are partnering with Long Beach Cinematheque, the local non-profit art organization in Long Beach, to sponsor their world record attempt at the largest Zombie Walk ever!  It’s going to take place after the show closes on the streets of Long Beach, and we hope to have many representative Zombies on the show floor during the day!

Another fun element for fans of all ages will be our new laser tag area.  For a small fee, you can play laser tag with a friend, or if you’re really feeling brave, you can play against a member of the 501st League of Star Wars! 

We are sponsoring an Art Auction that will benefit the Hero Initiative and Long Beach Cinematheque, with donations from many of our exhibiting creators.  The Auction will be held both on eBay and live at the show, and is a unique chance to own a piece of original artwork and help support an excellent charity.”

SM: This year you’ve chosen to integrate a horror theme into the show. How did you come about this decision and how do you think it will change the show?

MD: “We made the decision to integrate the horror theme into the show after hearing over and over again last year from attendees and guests that they felt torn about coming out to Long Beach or doing some other Halloween-related activity that weekend. There’s just so much going on in Southern California for Halloween that we decided, if you can’t beat, join ’em! 

There are so many natural cross-overs between comic books and horror, that it was an easy integration.  You’ll recognize some new exhibitors, such as American Horrors and Elfquest, who are experts in the horror genre, but there are also some of our old favorites, like Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson, famous for their horror comics, who will be back.“

SM: One of the most impressive things about the Long Beach Comic-Con is the quality of the panels you provide. Outside of San Diego Comic-Con, most shows place this on the backburner. What are some panels that you’re excited about for this upcoming show?

MD: “Thank you for the compliment.  It’s one of our favorite areas of the show as well, and we take pride in trying to create a broad base of content that will appeal to many different interests.  We’ve added some horror themed panels, as you would expect, and we have a full line-up related to our Might & Fright Film Festival.  There’s also a Workshop led by industry veterans Mark Waid and Josh Fialkov on Writing that will be held on Sunday afternoon for 25 very lucky people (this one has an extra charge, but is the only one that does).”

SM: The one disappointment I’ve had in prepping for your show is seeing that you’ve reduced it from a three-day show to a two-day. Is this a one-year change due to some scheduling conflicts or is this something your organization has decided on as a new direction for the show?

MD: “Yes, we did make that hard decision to go from three days to two days.  The decision wasn’t popular with everyone, but the attendance on Friday last year was light, due to the fact that it’s a work day for most.  Even the participants in our Artist Alley area were finding it difficult to get to the show on Friday because many of them have “day jobs.”  By compressing the show into two packed days, we hope to deliver a stronger, more exciting event for everyone.  We do expect to continue the 2 day show pattern in 2012, and then will assess it again for 2013.”

SM: Staying with the theme of show lengths, the last two years you’ve also hosted one-day Long Beach Comic-Con Expos. I maintain that there isn’t a better one day show in California. The combination of exhibitors, panels, guests, and cosplayers is better than most two or three-day shows. With the successes of the Expo, has there been any discussion of adding a second expo each year?

MD: “Thank you again.  We love doing the Expo, and are constantly working to keep it relevant in a very crowded market.  It’s important to note that without the support of our loyal exhibitors and Artist Alley participants, we couldn’t do it at all, so a big thanks to them.  That said, if we felt there was room in the show calendar for another one, we would absolutely jump in and do it.”

SM: Having attended nearly every minute of your conventions thus far, I know there is a lot to be excited about this October. That being said, what message can you pass onto our readers that have not yet attended your show? What makes LBCC unique and awesome?

MD: “What makes LBCC unique and awesome is the focus on comic books and the genuine enthusiasm all of us who work on this show have for the industry.  We work hard to create an event that we would want to attend as fans. Artist Alley takes center stage in our exhibit floor and there’s an energy that comes from that area of the show that can’t be beat.  Our panels and programming are carefully developed with the attendees in mind.  And we love people who come to the show in costume!

One more thing, if you purchase an advance weekend pass, you’ll be able to get an exclusive Marvel comic as well – can’t say which one yet, but we’ll announce it very soon!”

SM: Finally, is there anything else we haven’t covered here that you’d like passed on to our readers?

MD: “Tickets are available at most comic book shops (if yours isn’t selling them, let us know!), or at now.  We have student, senior citizen and military/police discounts available as well.  And if you’re an industry professional, you can get a professional pass to the show (details on the website as well).  Please tell your friends about the show, or better yet, bring one with you to share the fun! event…”

Once again, I want to thank Ms. Donato for taking the time to give us this preview of this show.  Having attended their first two cons, as well as their two 1 day expos, I can tell you that the people at MAD Event Management put together a really fun show and I see no reason to think that this one won’t be their best yet.  With LBCC, Comikaze Expo, and Designer Con all within a span of two weeks, there hasn’t been a better time to be on the con scene!

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