It's time for the annual Long Beach Comic Expo! Many of you saw my previous convention galleries. This one is very similar with a bunch of photos. I encountered many familiar faces along some new individuals as well. The Expo had several cool vendors, but I was disappointed with the cosplay turnout. It seems like fewer people are dressing in costumes at comic cons and other events. I hope cosplay isn't a dying trend. We'll find out when I attend other events this year. Scroll down to check out my gallery.
First, I ran into Top Cow. They're a comic book publisher who caters to a variety of audiences. I'm a fan of their post-apocalyptic series called Eclipse. If you prefer fantasy and supernatural elements, Witchblade might be a better read. I'm a little curious about The Darkness because Batman is in it. The Darkness appears to be a dark supernatural comic book series. You can all of Top Cow's work at www.topcow.com
Here's something I didn't see at previous conventions. Knowledge the Game is a fantasy deck building game. It comes with dice and the complete deck of cards. I think it looks similar to Magic. Kevin Larkins designed and created this game. Actually, I find the creatures and abilities quite inventive. You can find out more about this game and purchase it at https://www.knowledgethegame.com/
Kyla's Keepsakes has a good variety of steampunk merchandise. I was impressed with the selection. She makes pocket watches, shirts, corsets, jewelry, hats, belts, and all kinds of products. Her merchandise seems to have a decent quality too. I should buy a couple things the next time we cross paths. Kyla's official website is www.kylaskeepsakes.com. You can also find her steampunk emporium on Facebook and Instagram.
Vinylsmack sells really cute multiplanes and 3D artwork. You piece together the panels to make 3D images. I thought the Kraken would be really cool for steampunk fans. These multiplanes would be nice if your desk could use a whimsical and artistic touch. The exhibitor was nice enough to send some hi-res photos to include on this post. They look pretty cool. You can purchase their merchandise at www.vinylsmack.com. Check them out on Twitter and Facebook too.
I see Shannon Hoage at multiple events per year. She's the owner of Gears & Roebuck and a great steampunk maker. Part of the reason why I like her merchandise is the pop culture element. She makes steampunk versions of Star Wars, Transformers, Marvel, and other things. I think her Nerf Gun creations are awesome too. Take a look at her work on Facebook some time. https://www.facebook.com/GearsAndRoebuck/
Fandom Not Random was a really cool exhibitor. Basically, they sell everything in pop culture. A big part of their merchandise has a Harry Potter theme. Other licensed brands include Marvel, Star Wars, DC, Star Trek, and several video game franchises. I actually bought an Assassin's Creed wallet from this vendor. Their merchandise has a reasonable price and I believe a lot of people could find something they would enjoy. You can purchase their products at www.fandomnotrandom.com.
Is someone watching me in this photo? I sure hope not. There's an upcoming horror film called The Strangers: Prey at Night. I talked to reps for the movie and it was a fun experience because they had free merchandise. They gave me a poster and t-shirt. This film would be good for anyone who enjoys slasher flicks. Here's a little synopsis. A family rents a trailer in the middle of nowhere and then a group of serial killers terrorizes them all night long. I assume the killers are the same culprits from the first movie. Supposedly, it's based on true events. Yikes! Prey at Night's official website is https://thestrangers2018.com/
I ran into another familiar vendor. Fanbase Press is an independent comic book publisher who exhibits at conventions throughout Southern California. I read some of their work and it's quite entertaining. Bryant Dillon was the rep who talked to me this time. Usually, I run into Barbra. Some of you guys might remember my interview with her. Take a look at my photos to check out their work. You can also find out more about their work on www.fanbasepress.com.
Pardon the awkward picture below. I saw a booth for the Rebel Legion. It's a cosplay group for fans of the Rebel Alliance in the Star Wars franchise. Truthfully, I didn't see many cosplayers from the group. They have chapters globally and participate in a lot of charity events. So, it's a very positive group. They have a lot of information at www.rebellegion.com
The Gaslight Gathering is another one of my favorite exhibitors. It's always fun to see Cerulean St. Amor and Doc Syncronous. They host an annual steampunk convention every Spring. I believe the dates are April 6-8 this year. They're having a carnival theme and I'm sure it will be a lot of fun. Scheduling conflicts are preventing me from attending in 2018, but I'm willing to shoot for 2019. I'm really curious about this event. You can buy tickets and learn more details at www.gaslightgathering.org
I didn't see many cosplayers this year, but these guys were sporting a healthy amount of steampunk pride. Their jet backs are definitely cool. Hopefully, I'll see more costumes at WonderCon and the Long Beach Comic Con. At least people still remember steampunk. That's a plus.
Moonlight Wares was an interesting vendor. This exhibitor sells a lot of accessories and clothes that work for cosplay, Ren faires, or historical reenactments. I think quite a bit of this merchandise would be appropriate for a variety of costumes, including steampunk, witches, vampires, and many more themes. Many of this vendor's products are made out of leather. Those hats would look snazzy on a steampunk cosplayer. Check out www.moonlightwares.com for more products. You can also contact Moonlight Wares through Etsy.
The 501st Legion is another cosplay group I see regularly at events. They're the Empire characters from the Star Wars franchise. Unfortunately, I didn't see a plethora of members. I probably came on the wrong day. Most of the Stormtroopers and Empire characters probably came on Saturday. But I got a photo with Darth Vader and one of the tie fighter pilots. That was pretty cool. I was too tired for my usual steampunk attire. My outfit was a lazy Pusheen shirt and hoodie. Star Wars and cats. It's a good combination. You can click on the link to learn more about the 501st Legion. Much like their Rebel foes, the 501st Legion participates in a lot of charity events. www.501st.com
I found a band of superheroes on my way out. Marvel is usually popular at these conventions. I guess we have Harley Quinn, Spider-Man, and two Captain Americas. Hopefully, they had fun at the Comic Expo.
Honestly, I'm n0t familiar with this character. I just thought his costume looked incredible. Maybe some of you guys recognize him. Super cool sword.
The convention center had a fun variety of cars. I assume this car is from Austin Powers. It was never a series I followed, but I'm pretty sure this seems like a something we would see in Austin Powers.
These cars have a Star Wars theme. One of them is supposed to be an X-Wing. The reddish one seems to be from the Empire. It has the Galactic Empire's emblem. I love the little droids in the back.
I recognize this car. It's a replica from Toy Story. Do you guys remember Pizza Planet? The three eyed aliens came from the claw machine in that place.
It's Herbie, the Love Bug! Dang, that's cute.
I've seen this car several times. It has a Joker theme and looks really awesome. Maybe I'll see the Batmobile one of these events.
I was thrilled to see this group. These cars are replicas from both the original Jurassic Park film and Jurassic World.
That's the end of my photo gallery. It was great to see new people and returning favorites. I hope you guys enjoyed the post. Leave a comment if you have anything to say. Take it easy and come back for next week's post. Bye!
Welcome back! I promised to review Black Panther and there's a lot of information to discuss. Is this film worth hype? I'll gladly tell you my thoughts about it.
Let's start with a plot synopsis. Most of the film takes place in an African country named Wakanda. Many years ago, a vibranium meteorite crashed on Wakanda. The plant life became infused with vibranium's healing properties. Vibranium also became a valuable technological source for the nation. The people of Wakanda chose to keep their resources a secret and are still viewed as a third world country in the modern era. In today's world, King T'Challa is the new monarch of Wakanda and he faces many political difficulties. Sins of the previous generation also come back to cause trouble.
I always start with the positive elements. There are so many great components in Black Panther. I appreciate most of the characters. Chadwick Bosman is fabulous as T'Challa, aka Black Panther. He's regal, honorable, and compassionate. T'Challa wants his people to thrive and he's also a terrific action hero. Personally, I don't think the world has enough positive role models for young people. That means we need some positive fictional role models and T'Challa definitely fits the description. Lupita Nyong'o is a great actress and she brings many wonderful elements to Nakia, T'Challa's love interest. She wants to make a difference in the world and has a mind of her own. Letitia Wright is very entertaining as Shuri, T'Challa's younger sister. Shuri brings a lot of comic relief to the story and she's a technological genius. You'll be impressed with her inventions. Danai Gurira plays Okoye, T'Challa's bodyguard and the leader of an elite fighting force. She's a very strong female character with a powerful sense of valor and loyalty. Okoye is also a fantastic action diva. In fact, I would say she's a better fighter than most female action heroines and superheroes. Those of us who saw The Avengers are familiar with Ulysses Klaue, played by Andy Serkis. Klaue is a terrorist and quite entertaining as a destructive villain. I also like Angela Bassett as T'Challa's mother, Ramonda. The Queen Mother isn't a particularly big character, but she brings a lot of heart to the movie.
Black Panther has really strong writing. The plot has a major political message, but it's relevant to modern issues and executed appropriately. Some political movies become redundant and distasteful, but Black Panther brings a very thought provoking message to the audience. It was a bold move by Disney and I'm glad they took the chance. The main antagonist, Erik Killmonger, drives the political elements home. He's a metaphor for any culture, ethnic group, religious faction, or socioeconomic class who can't let go of sins or crimes that were committed centuries ago. People can't move forward and evolve if they're constantly hung up on the past. As a country, Wakanda also has some political issues that need resolution. The plot does a very good job of unfolding everything in a way that comes together well and makes sense. Black Panther also includes some humor to break up some of the film's serious undertones. Overall, this film is very serious and a little humor helps the pacing.
Black Panther has fabulous entertainment value. It brings a lot of creative world building to the MCU. I love the costumes and production design. This movie was also stuffed with a ton of action. The technological elements bring unique entertainment value to the action scenes. Action is another great device that breaks up the film's serious nature. The characters have well developed and complex relationships. I find that part interesting and it keeps my attention throughout the movie. Even the musical score impresses me. I enjoy the music and it definitely seems appropriate for this type of film. Black Panther is not a boring movie. If you want something different and exciting, go see it!
I want to point out a few negative elements. Michael B. Jordan is getting a lot of critical acclaim as Kilmonger and I think he's overrated. His performance is fine and the character has good political elements, but he's still not the best villain. He seems generic and one dimensional in certain ways. Kilmonger became corrupt from past trauma and we've seen this type of situation in countless action movies. I'm also not a big fan of W'Kabi, played by Daniel Kaluuya. He's T'Challa's best friend and Okoye's love interest. Once again, the actor isn't the problem. I just don't find his character very interesting. He's supposed to be an important character and I feel like everyone else is more impressive.
Surprisingly, I feel disappointed with the parts of the cinematography and some of the visual effects. The film has great world building, but portions of the CGI seem unpolished. I saw much better visual effects in several movies last year, including Star Wars, Guardians of the Galaxy, Blade Runner, Kong, Planet of the Apes, Thor, and others. It also seems like some of the action scenes came from a video game. Some of the characters are CGI in certain scenes and it’s so obvious. Parts of the cinematography are a bit jarring. I saw too many characters and objects flying around the screen. It was a little hard to keep track of some elements. I also think it's clear when they're using a green screen. This doesn't mean the overall cinematography and visual effects are terrible. Certain elements are quite impressive, but I noticed some inconsistencies.
Despite my few complaints, Black Panther is still an excellent movie. I believe it’s one of the best installments in the MCU. The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy are still on top for me, but Black Panther is bringing new things to comic book films. I would love to see a sequel. You should definitely go see it. Take the whole family. I recommend seeing this film on the biggest screen possible. IMAX and other deluxe screens are worth the price. But I wouldn’t see it in 3D.
That’s the end of my review. Have you seen Black Panther yet? Tell us about your experience in the comment section. Don’t forget to become a subscriber to my website by filling out the contact section. I had a really good time at the Long Beach Comic Expo and I’m going to tell you guys all about it next week. Be prepared for lots of cool photos on my next post. Have a good week and enjoy your night at the movies.
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