Long Beach Comic Expo brings a diverse convention and presents award for diversity.
By YASMIN CORTEZ
Feb. 20, 2017
Long Beach was at a calm after the Friday storm, when all of the sudden hundreds of comic book characters came to life at the Long Beach Convention Center.
The 7th annual Long Beach Comic Expo brought veteran con-goers and curious first timers to geek out by the beach.
Over the weekend the expo included headliners Jason Momoa from Game of Thrones and Aquaman, and comic-book legend George Perez, an illustrator and writer for “The Avengers,” “Teen Titans,” and “Wonder Woman.”
Big name celebrities weren’t the only people that fans were running up to ask for a photo. Fans and male photographers readily gravitated towards cosplayers with cleavage, hoping to snag a one-on-one photo shoot with a sexy Spider-Man.
Women who copy their favorite comic characters often become the next eye candy for male fans.
“Girls should be able to dress how they want, especially if it’s a character they’re passionate about,” said Natalie Borja, cosplaying as Jack Sparrow and was confused as a male multiple times.
Although female representation in comics and movies is progressing, there is still a stereotypical mindset when it comes to the “geek girl.”
Professional cosplayer Megan Golden was dressed as Lara Croft from “Tomb Raider” at Comic Expo and is strong advocate for female empowerment in the cosplaying community. Golden said she wants con-goers to know that she is more than just a cosplayer with cleavage.
“I never really thought about the fake nerd thing until it started happening to me at conventions,” she said. “Where someone would try and quiz you, but they wouldn’t realize I know a lot about Tomb Raider and I’ll school them.”
Often times Golden said she is quizzed on her knowledge of the comic universe, set-up in some kind of “trap” to see if she is faking her love for comics; and does not want to constantly defend what she loves or prove how many comics she owns.
Golden hopes by cosplaying her favorite characters she can encourage other females to embrace their inner “nerdism” and feel welcomed into the comic community.
Long Beach Comic Expo promotes diversity and allows the convention to be a place for attendees to feel safe and to be able to express their love and passion for comic-book characters.
Traditionally, the female audience is often overlooked by big-name comic movies and books, but they still send a huge message to young fans.
Long Beach Comic Expo strengthens the future female representation by promoting diversity and equality by collaborating with the Girl Scouts of the Greater Los Angeles Area.
The Girl Scouts are invited to not only to cosplay and have a great time, but to also collect badges and learn about the comic-book universe.
“They’re just comics, anyone can read them not just boys, it’s called respect!” said members from Girl Scout Troop 1513.
More than 500 Girl Scouts had a chance to attend panels about careers in comics, design their own superhero costumes, and test their artistic skills.
The expo offered workshops geared towards the female con-goer community, like “Women Who Draw,” “Gender Bending in Cosplay,” and “Diversity in Comics.”
Not only does the expo advocate “girl power,” but also growth and empowerment of minorities in comics.
This is the third consecutive year that the Long Beach Comic Expo presented the Dwayne McDuffie Award For Diversity to someone who exemplified diversity in comics during the previous year.
According to the official rules of the award, “the recipient must have had work that helped broaden the range of characters portrayed in comics, add to the variety of creators contributing to the medium, influence the marketplace and contribute to the advancement of women, minorities, and LGBT people in comic books and pop culture.”
Actor Phil LaMarr spoke at Saturday’s ceremony to introduce the panel of judges and talk about Dwayne McDuffie, who was a close friend to LaMarr, and how his legacy will help the growth of the minority community at conventions.
“This award is working towards a day when it won’t be needed,” LaMarr said to the crowd.
This year, Ezra Claytan Daniels was awarded for his original comic, “Upgrade Soul,” which is is a new immersive science-fiction graphic novel built around an elderly couple, Hank and Molly Nonnar. The two are healthy, science buffs who become the guinea pigs for a risky experimental therapy to rejuvenate the human body — but the experiment ends up going completely wrong.
“I’ve never won anything in my life! I’m humbled,” Daniels wrote on Twitter.
Although Long Beach Comic Expo is a small convention compared to San Diego Comic Con or the Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo, it still has a big impact on diversifying the comic book universe.
Wondercon in Anaheim is the next big anticipated comic convention from March 31 to April 2, that will hopefully continue the growing trend of bringing fiction to life with some real nonfiction issues to the surface.