Comics, cosplay and fandoms will return to Long Beach for the annual Long Beach Comic Expo (LBCE) this weekend.
The event will feature a few new attractions, as well as some Comic Expo favorites that fans can expect to see year after year.
Martha Donato, event founder and organizer, said that there's one new addition to the con she's most excited for attendees to see.
"We have a new tabletop gaming area that we're excited to bring to LBCE in a bigger way than ever before," she said.
That gaming area will feature games from developers Cryptozoic, Breaking Games, Brotherhood Games, The Op, IDW Games and Skybound Games.
The annual cosplay contest also will be back, where cosplayers can show off their costumes and character personalities for a chance to win a prize or two. That's happening at 4 p.m. Saturday.
And there's plenty of panel discussions on deck, including a discussion on comic book villains at noon with Christopher Cantwell, Rylend Grant, David Pepose and Cecil Castellucci.
Another panel covering the topic "Rise of the Latina Superhero" is happening at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, with Kayden Phoenix writer and creator of Jalisco), Amanda Julina Gonzales and Gloria Felix illustrator and colorist at Jalisco), cosplayer Ivy Doomkitty and Barbra Dillon (Editor-in-Chief and founder of Quince). Ivy Doomkitty will stick around shortly after to host her own panel called "So They Say You Shouldn't Cosplay," where she will discuss cosplay diversity, including skin color, image type and age.
Organizing the event this year was more hectic, Donato said. LBCE typically takes place sometime in February, and this year, it's happening shortly after New Year's Day.
"The challenges were all around this move to an early January date," she said. "Three major holidays — Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's — that had people out on vacation made for a difficult time planning this one."
But the work is worth it, she added.
"My favorite part is seeing everything come together and watching the happy faces as people enter the exhibit hall on Saturday morning," she said. "Their smiles make it all worthwhile."
Other event features include a Geek Film Fest, meet and greets, smaller cosplay competitions, vendor booths and chances to get work signed by favorite writers, authors and cosplayers.
For people wanting to book a hotel room, Renaissance Hotel (111 E. Ocean Blvd.) is offering a discounted group rate for those who make a reservation by calling 888-236-2427 and using the promo code "LBCE."
The Long Beach Comic Con is happening from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 11, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 12, at the Long Beach Convention Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd.
Tickets for the event are $40 per person on Saturday, $25 per person on Sunday and $55 for both days.
For more information, a full list of speakers and booths or to purchase tickets, go to longbeachcomicexpo.com.
Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at email@example.com.