Those of you that have followed me for awhile (and if you’re not, please do so now on Twitter, @The_Con_Fluence), know that I’ve consistently enjoyed the last few years of Long Beach Comic-Con (LBCC), as well as their smaller one day sibling, the Long Beach Comic Expo (LBCE) the last few years. In fact, as of Sunday of WonderCon I began my countdown to the May 12th LBCE (as of this writing there are only 32 days to go!). In anticipation of the show, I requested another interview with the always gracious, Martha Donato, President of MAD Event Management, so that she could fill us in on some new details for this year’s show.
SM: First off, I want to tell you how excited I am for your upcoming Long Beach Comic Expo. I’ve attended the last two years and loved both shows. Similar to my feelings about your larger show, your first expo was great, but it felt like you took a big step forward with last year’s show. So, how do you top your past successes in this third attempt?
MD: “We’re really excited about this year’s Expo. We’ll have panels again this year, which was a big hit at last year’s show. We’re proud to announce that the show will be bigger than last year, with our exhibit floor and artist alley completely sold out (we have a wait list!).”
SM: One of the most impressive things about the Long Beach Comic Expo last year was the inclusion of panels. This is unheard of in one day shows, but gives you a big edge on the con market with this addition. Will the panels be back this May?If so, what are some panels that you’re excited about? Any chance that we’ll see rising stars like Brian Bucellato and Josh Fialkov get spotlight panels?
MD: “Thanks, we were thrilled with the response to the panels. Do you have a crystal ball? We haven’t announced it yet, but Josh Fialkov will be presenting a workshop that we’re really excited about. He’s been a big supporter of our shows from the beginning, and we love working with him. Barbara Kesel will be performing Portfolio Reviews for the up and coming creators, which is something she is extremely good at doing, and we’re grateful to her for offering the service.”
SM: I notice that the exhibit space has been sold out for quite some time already. This seems like a really good sign that you have so many excited vendors. Has there been any discussion of opening up more vendor spots? Also, I notice that there are many returning vendors on your list which is also very promising. Beyond that, who are some of the new vendors that you’re most excited to have at the show?
MD: “We’ve been sold out for a couple of weeks now. Unfortunately, given the nature of doing the show in a smaller space, we don’t have a lot of options for increasing the size of the exhibit floor. We do plan to make better use of the Lobby area, so expect to see some exciting displays as soon as you walk in this year.”
“We have a lot of returning vendors – they are very supportive of what we do and frankly, we couldn’t do this without them. They always bring a lot of great comic book and pop culture products and keep our exhibit floor interesting.”
“We have a few new retailers at the show this year – it always excites us to introduce newcomers to our world. We have several new creators setting up in Artist Alley this year, too. There’s a nice feeling that comes from seeing the new talent setting up for the first time.”
SM: I’ve noticed that there seems to be a bigger effort to cross-promote with local comic shops this year. Is forming partnerships with the So Cal comic book shops becoming a bigger part of your approach to conventions? Are you finding the shops to be willing partners in promoting the con-going experience?
MD: “We have a great relationship with the local comic shops, and have worked hard to build their trust and confidence over the years. They are the best partners in promoting the convention experience and we count many of them as friends as well as business partners.”
SM: Having attended nearly every minute of all of your conventions and expos thus far, I know there is a lot to be excited about with one of your shows. That being said, what message can you pass onto our readers that have not yet attended your show? What makes a Long Beach show unique and awesome?
MD: “Thanks Shawn, we always appreciate your support. The message we’d like to pass on to the new attendee at a Long Beach Comic Con event is that you should come to show to experience the love of comics that we all share. It’s as much a social gathering as anything else – we make connections with people that last; we have a chance to meet the creators behind our favorite comic books, or get introduced to a new one. There are learning experiences in our panel discussions and workshops that will make you think differently. And we have so much fun – people dress up in costumes, we have laser tag and photo ops and everyone is enjoying themselves. And the kids are always free (10 and under).”
SM: Finally, is there anything else we haven’t covered here that you’d like passed on to our readers?
MD: “We’d just like to remind our attendees that you are always welcome to dress up in costume – and bring your camera! Check out our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/LongBeachComicCon) before you arrive to find out what’s happening, too. We like to keep in close contact with our exhibitors and creators to know what they’re planning for the Expo and then pass it along.”
Once again, I want to thank Ms. Donato for taking the time to give us this preview of this show. Having attended every Long Beach convention they’ve had thus far, I can tell you that the people at MAD Event Management put together a really fun show. Simply put, there isn’t a better location for a show than this one and there isn’t a better collection of talent and panels at a one day show than this one. If you’re within a few hours drive, make sure to make LBCE your focus on May 12th. As always, if you can’t make it to the show, make sure to follow me on Twitter for updates throughout: @The_Con_Fluence.