A confident young Wonder Woman strolled past me. She was in deep conversation with Cinderella, dressed in her iconic blue ball gown. I stood by a food truck feeling underdressed in elf ears and a shoulder-length blonde wig. In line for lunch stood Batman, Harry Potter, and Miguel and Tulio from The Road to El Dorado.
No, this wasn’t a month-early Halloween celebration. It was just the first day of Long Beach Comic Con.
Long Beach Comic Con is a 7-year-old comics and pop-culture convention held every September at the Long Beach Convention Center.
Although with about 25,000 attendees it is a small convention compared to others, it boasts programming comparable to Anaheim’s WonderCon — a comic convention run by the same organization that runs San Diego’s famous Comic-Con International.
In recent years, attendance at these conventions has been dramatically increasing, as fans flock to panels, celebrity signings and artists’ booths.
“LBCC was great. I had been once a couple of years ago, and it has definitely grown,” said Tiffany Chien, a photographer and blogger for the website The Prose and Cons. “I’m glad to see more and more nerds coming to lesser known cons.”
Mina Zubia, who cosplayed as Sophie Hatter from Howl’s Moving Castle, drove from Northern California to attend LBCC. / Christabelle Blake / el Don
A cosplayer dressed as Captain America at Long Beach Comic Con. / Christabelle Blake / el Don
Fans at Long Beach Comic Con resembled characters from their favorite cartoons and anime, including Sailor Moon. / Christabelle Blake / el Don
This fan at Long Beach Comic Con cosplayed Link from Legend of Zelda. / Christabelle Blake / el Don
This couple cosplayed Kida and Milo from Atlantis: The Lost Empire at LBCC. / Christabelle Blake / el Don
The author’s favorite cosplay is this suit of full body armor from the role-playing video game Mass Effect. / Christabelle Blake / el Don
But even more exciting than the chance to meet our favorite voice actor or mingle with graphic novel artists, most attendees at LBCC —as with every other pop-culture conference of this kind— were there for an entirely different reason: cosplay.
Cosplay comes from “costume” and “play,” and means dressing up as an admired character from a book, TV show, comic, anime, manga or video game. I’ve been cosplaying for the five years since my friend dragged me along to Anime Expo 2011 dressed as Su from the manga Shugo Chara!
At almost every pop culture convention around the world it’s not uncommon to see multiple Sailor Moons, Links from The Legend of Zelda or Marvel and DC characters all walking around with colorful wigs and foam weapons.
People of different ages and from all walks of life enjoy dressing as their favorite characters and showing off their costumes at conventions like LBCC. They are willing to travel great distances to attend small and large conventions, always in costume.
Mina Zubia, who cosplayed Sophie Hatter from Howl’s Moving Castle in a fluffy blue dress and gray hair, drove all the way from Northern California to attend Long Beach Comic Con.
“Long Beach Comic Con is one of my favorite events and this year was no exception,” she said. “With such fun events and panels as well as a great cosplay community it was well worth the eight-hour drive.”