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Long Beach Comic Expo creates a culture of fandom for all

The annual event saw thousands of enthusiasts and aspiring artists.

February 20, 2018

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It was an average weekend in Long Beach, California. Mario, Luigi, Wonder Woman and General Grievous pose for a picture. They laugh as an R2D2 rolls by. This is a scene you can only find at an event like Long Beach Comic Expo.

Hunter Lee | Daily 49er

Thousands of comic enthusiasts and cosplayers donned their best costumes at Long Beach Comic Expo.

The Long Beach Comic Expo hit the city with a boom and a pow last weekend as the Long Beach Convention Center filled with characters from various television shows, movies, comics and video games.

The annual event provides a place for comic enthusiasts to discover local shops and artists, meet celebrities from self-proclaimed nerd media, attend panels and bond over their elaborate costumes. The fandom culture reaches an all-time high at these get-togethers, bringing people of all ages, ethnicities and interests together. They complement one another on their creative homemade props, snap photos and exchange numbers — for the next con of course.

One of the things Comic Expo is best known for is the dedication and effort attendees put into their intricate costumes, many of them famous in the cosplaying world. Ali Williams is known for her Disney princess and sci-fi inspired cosplays and nears 23,000 followers on Instagram.

This weekend she showed up in an orange wig and white tank top as Leeloo from the sci-fi film “The Fifth Element” and mingled with others who shared the same passion in the Cosplay Corner.

“I’ve been cosplaying for about three years now,” Williams said. “I started at WonderCon and I’ve just grown exponentially ever since.”

Hunter Lee | Daily 49er
Thousands of comic enthusiasts and cosplayers donned their best costumes at Long Beach Comic Expo.

Hunter Lee | Daily 49er

Williams and the many other enthusiasts in the corner took photos with admirers throughout the day and frequented the makeshift dance floor, which became home to quirky crossovers showing off their moves.

“This con has been really fun,” Williams said. “You just get into it right away since it’s a two-day con. Everyone comes out in full force right away and that’s really refreshing because usually it’s a slow start then it picks up and dies down, but this one is all at once and I love it.”

Along with the reunion of enthusiasts, there is also a supportive spirit on the floor for newcomers to the culture.

Ashley Ranabauer prepared for her first comic expo by putting on her baby pink dress, blue jacket, knee-high socks and a single line of fake blood running down from her nose. The 11-year old “Stranger Things” fan donned the popular Eleven costume and drove down with her family from San Bernardino Saturday to line up and meet Joe Keery, the actor who plays Steve Harrington in the sci-fi Netflix original.

“[Meeting Keery] was so crazy,” Ranabauer said. “I couldn’t stand still I was so nervous, but he’s awesome in person and he said he liked my costume. It was crazy.”

Hunter Lee | Daily 49er
Thousands of comic enthusiasts and cosplayers donned their best costumes at Long Beach Comic Expo.

The line to meet Keery wrapped around the large social square filled with “Stranger Things” enthusiasts and cosplayers, Ranabauer being one of them, as her family stood off to the side in street clothes, basking in the celebration.

“My mom only told me last week that we were coming here,” Ranabauer said. “It was a surprise so we had to make up the costume at the last minute.”

While most attendees were there to bask in the fandom, two full rows took up the concrete floor to try and make their mark in the world of comics. Shops, artists, writers and collectors filled their small tables with colorful memorabilia and business cards to network and promote themselves.

Los Angeles county local Jesse Rubio came to Comic Expo with the hopes of finding an artist to convert his science fiction novel, “APEX LOST: Volume 1 Max Velocityinto a graphic novel. His book is about a space janitor who becomes stranded on a planet and must rely on his android to survive.

“This is our third con we’ve been to,” Rubio said. “The goal is always to meet as many people as possible. Today’s been awesome. Everybody is really supportive and we’re mainly just getting in touch with other comic book artists and giving out our information.”

Whether the expo presented a chance to network, see celebrities or meet and reunite with fellow cosplayers, the fandom culture was alive and ready to return for next year’s Comic Expo.

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