Overall I think LBCC 2011 was an overall success for them. Having attended all three years of this show, LBCC has definitely grown significantly since it’s humble beginnings. Orange County has had many pop culture conventions come and go, but a clear champion remains to be seen. Does LBCC have the potential? Well, here are my pros and cons from my experience:
- The area of downtown Long Beach is nice venue for the show. Ample restaurants, bay-front dining, decent secondary entertainment (aquarium, theaters, etc).
- The convention center has plenty of space in the front entrance and foyer area.
- Programming book went from black/white to full color glossy paper. The ‘comic book’ format was quite nice.
- A much larger percentage of the show room floor was used- maybe 75%+. Last year they used maybe a little more than half of the floor.
- More exhibitors than last year with a decent amount of comic book shops.
- Artist Alley was the main focus of the floor taking up at least half the space.
- Director John Carpenter was the main attraction on the floor doing signings.
- Easy accessibility to comic creators like Darwyn Cooke, Mark Waid, and Steve Niles.
- Programming was packed and ran into the evening.
- They ran a ‘horror screening room’ that mixed videos and live panels
- At the back of the showroom floor, there was a stage with live performances throughout the day. I watched a Jedi Knight presentation, which had a pretty full audience.
- Zombie walk was scheduled on Saturday night.
- Crowd was busy but very manageable.
- Twitter feeds were generally very positive about the show. I didn’t see any complaints.
- In the past, they had more elements out in front of the building with specialty cars and cosplayers but nothing this year.
- While LBCC upgraded to full lanyards/badges, the design was poor. Just a blank card with a small LBCC logo.
- Only 4 programming rooms. While there was a lot of programming, many felt like ‘filler’ panels. I saw very little to no lines to get into most panels. I went to The Guild panel on Saturday and it was one of the largest (approx 300) but still had some empty seats.
- Layout of the floor was a little confusing with exhibitors and talent mixed throughout vendors. The angled floor map didn’t help either. It was a little disorienting.
- They introduced a ‘Laser Tag’ element in the corner of the floor room which would have been nice for kids ($4)- however, the set up was poor and floor space was too small. It didn’t seem very busy.
- The typical Wresting Ring was also in the corner, which seemed to garner little interest.
- While crowds were decent, with just 10-15% less it would have felt pretty awkward. So with the expansion of the floor it ‘felt’ ok.
- A lot of the booths had the same stuff over and over again. Not a lot of diversity or anything I haven’t seen before.
- I didn’t see a lot of buying going on. Not a lot of full shopping bags.
- This year, it was marketed as part ‘Horror Con’ but didn’t feel that much different. There was one row of horror genre booths but it was still pretty unimpressive.
- There was not a ton of cosplayers that one might expect from Halloween weekend. From my perspective, there is no obvious advantage of having on this weekend. Last year, more tables were giving out candy to kids but this year, not as many.
As a comic book fan, it was a fine experience. Nothing super unique or compelling but I also didn’t feel ripped off like from last year or their One Day Expo. For the first time, $25 a day tix or $45 for two days tix barely felt about right. I think it will be worth it by next year or two. While it still has a long way to go before declaring supremacy in the ‘Con-Wars’, it does have potential to be great show. The Comikaze Expo is next week and Comic-Con International’s WonderCon is looming in March so the battle is far from over. With that being said, I’ll be back at LBCC next year.