Comic-Con International has a way of towering, titan-like, above all other gatherings of a pop-culture nature, simply due to its history and stature and everyone-goes-ness and everything's-here-ness.
But to say the comic cons that are not the San Diego-based July spectacular are small, by any stretch, is, well, a stretch of the imagination. Southern California happens to be home to a host of high-octane, colorfully costumed, stars-in-attendence extravaganzas that stand upon their own two feet in a powerful and fan-pleasing way.
Or, if not stand, then fly. Look to Long Beach Comic Con, a two-day convention that welcomes a host of caped crusaders who, when other conventioneers aren't looking, are surely able to leap from ground to building top in an instant. Costumed cosplay -- showing as a favorite character and engaging in activities of an uproarious, in-the-universe nature -- is a big part of the con, which will also boast the other touchstones of its titan-y San Diego peer.
Like? Well, star showings, for one. Celebrities like Chloe Bennet of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." and John Barrowman -- he of the "Dr. Who"-verse -- and Nicholas Brandon of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" will make cameos (Buffy buffs will know that this is Mr. Brandon's very first appearance at the Long Beach Comic Con).
An Artists Alley will be busily sketching away, and vendors will have the all-important figurines and tees and comic books and memorabilia, the goods that fill up the all-important bags that fans roam the convention hall floor gripping for the entirety of a con weekend.
And panels, photo happenings, and more merriment round it all out.
It's a robust scene, and definitely an itch-scratcher for pop culture lovers who've not been to a con in, oh, several weeks. We do, with Wonder Con and a multitude of comic books conventions, have quite the comics-oriented convention industry 'round about LA and Orange County.
That simply means that your Joker costume or your Wonder Woman needs to stay forever cleaned, pressed, and ready to be donned at a moment's notice.
The bat signal's in the sky, above the Long Beach Convention Center, on Sept. 12 and 13.