LONG BEACH – Comic Con returned to Long Beach over the weekend, and with it the Columbia Memorial Space Center’s Space Expo Exhibit.
Along with much of “nerd and geek culture,” Long Beach Comic Con (LBCC) has gradually grown over the past several years from a small convention into a largely anticipated event for pop culture enthusiasts.
While many of these conventions are known for being a hotbed of “geeks” who are toy collectors, comic fans and / or cosplayers, the last few Long Beach Shows have also incorporated the intellectual and academic genres in nerd culture through the involvement of Downey’s own space museum.
“This particular show is bigger and better than ever,” said CMSC President Ben Dickow. “…I think there’s probably two times as many people in the past day-and-a-half than there were last year.”
CMSC’s Space Expo was granted its biggest space to date, and with it came a host of new professionals, activities, panels and experiences for guests to enjoy, including a virtual reality demonstration put on by Servios, several robots on display from the TV Show Battle Bots, and a live streamed panel put on by online web series Fascinating Fights.
Many of the partners involved in Space Expo expressed a similar excitement, enthusiasm, and optimism for the involvement of the STEM sciences in what used to be a primarily fandom based environment.
“I think by doing, you learn more by school. And then it also reinforces the science you learn in school, and you apply it, and then you really understand it,” said John Mladenik, who was at the convention with his battle bot Invader.
Fascinating Fights Comic Book Historian Siike Donnelly was especially excited about the inclusion, expressing that inclusion of several geek and nerd topics would only help conventions like LBCC thrive.
“I welcome it! I think the biggest thing is you can’t be a nerd and not be inclusive I feel, and I know there are people out there that are nerds and are like ‘no this is mine and I don’t want anyone to share it with me,’ but I’m the exact opposite,” said Donnelly. “When I was a kid, it was always rare to find someone else that liked comics, so now that there’s so many people and then it’s branched out into so many things – sci-fi, cosplay – everyone is a nerd, and they’re a nerd of their own thing. So I think celebrating that in any way to expand your convention and to bring in a bigger audience is the key to longevity…”
CMSC’s next big event will arrive next month, when they host “Spooky Science” near Halloween time.