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Comic Con takes over downtown Long Beach

Fans and pros dressed up and celebrated all the things they love.

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These Spider-Men conquered the influence of the Venom symbiote and became friends.

These Spider-Men conquered the influence of the Venom symbiote and became friends.

Carlos Villicana

Carlos Villicana

These Spider-Men conquered the influence of the Venom symbiote and became friends.

Carlos Villicana, Assistant Arts and Life Editor

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Hundreds heroically fought off the heat on Saturday and Sunday to take part in Long Beach Comic Con 2017, a celebration of pop culture that extends beyond the sequential books the event takes its name from.

Some fans arrived to the event at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center with a phone to take snapshots of costumed aficionados and a bag for the goods they’d buy, while others cosplayed as their favorite heroes and villains — such as Batman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, the Joker and Harley Quinn.

Lines grew as the sun rose, with hundreds of fans waiting to enter the air conditioned convention center. While in line, they could view a series of movie-themed vehicles, including a Hyundai Tiburon that owner Tom Piedmont customized to resemble a x-wing starfighter from the “Star Wars” franchise.

“[This happens in] every parking lot [I park in],” Piedmont said as children surrounded his car in awe.

He started remodeling his car after he scraped the side of it while driving home after a fourteen hour work shift.

“At that point I was like, well I might as well have fun with the car,” Piedmont said.

Piedmont’s car sports signatures from R2-D2 actor Kenny Baker and successor Jimmy Vee.

“Maybe I can get [C3PO actor] Anthony Daniels to record some lines,” Piedmont joked.

Next to Piedmont’s car was a Nissan 350Z equipped with laser blasters made with baseball bats and its own R2 droid. Owner Shawn Crosby built his car in 1999 and now uses it as his daily vehicle.

“Repurposing [materials] was what ‘Star Wars’ was all about, so what we’re doing is keeping with that but on a larger scale,” Crosby said. “We’ve got guys [who do this] all over the country.”

Upon entering the convention center and escaping the blazing sun, fans could hit the convention center’s lower floor to interact with and buy from artists, authors and vendors. One such vendor was Jay Collins, a former owner of comic book shop owner.

“At a convention, you pretty much know you’ve got your clientele. It’s just more hands-on, you get to have longer conversations with people,” Collins said.

Collins recently sold the last of eight comic book shops he owned and now travels to different conventions, selling comic books at about two conventions per month.

“For me, it’s about experiencing life more than anything. When you’re in a store, it’s a different lifestyle. You go home at the end of the day, you’ve got a nine-to-five kind of job. Whereas owning your own business is not nine-to-five,” Collins said. “But in a convention? It’s kind of like you just hit it up! [You] come into town, meet some people. Different people in every city, which is nice. I like new faces. There’s a lot of regulars too.”

Though shouting about discounts for comics at his booth hampered his voice, his enthusiasm to talk with attendees was visible and returned.

“‘What’s up man! How you doing? Nice to see ya’… I remember you,” Collins could be heard saying to a man looking at a box of “Star Wars” toys in his booth.

As fans, cosplayers and R2-D2 units roamed the alleys of the convention’s show floor, multiple rooms in the exhibit lobby hosted a series of panels and screenings throughout the two days.

Standing outside of one such room was Joshua Hoh, a Cal State Long Beach film alumnus whose film “Steven Spielberg and the Return to Film School” was screened as a part of the GeekFest Film Festival at Long Beach Comic Con.

Produced in 2013, the film tells a fictionalized version of Steven Spielberg’s 2001 return to CSULB to complete the degree he began in 1965. Actor Robert W. Laur stars as Spielberg in Hoh’s twenty minute short comedy film that features locations and references recognizable to CSULB students and film fans alike.

“There’s these pictures and all these stories,” Hoh said. “We obviously had our fun with it, there’s points that we have for comedic effect, but I think that just paying homage to this great director, that is a big hero on campus was the goal.”

Post-screening, Hoh joined other filmmakers to speak about their films and offer advice.

“Play the ‘I’m young, I’m a student, we’re a really small crew’ card,” Hoh said. “Put the money where you think it’s going to get the most out of the performance.”

Hoh told the audience to work with people they trust, use the entire crew as the marketing team via social media and always apologize for any morale deteriorating behavior.

“Luckily we didn’t have any [filming] locations fall out, that seems really bad. But probably even worse is losing friends over your films,” Hoh said.

The film looks dated to Hoh, but it earned him awards for best short film and best film of the festival.

“I’m glad it still works,” Hoh said.

The awards presentation ended as 2017’s Long Beach Comic Con did. Fans emptied the venue and crowded into the front of the convention center, keeping the weekend long festivities going for as long as they could.

Harley Quinn takes aim outside the convention center.

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