The Long Beach Comic & Horror Con holds a special place in our hearts. Zombie Ranch was jumpstarted into being when we were given our first ever exhibitor space in 2009, back when it was just called the Long Beach Comic Con and was a brand new venture. So were we. Untried, untested, but enthusiastic enough to have somehow overcome all the obstacles in our path, our one and only Friday update occurred as our first comic page went live on the web on October 2nd, just as the ribbon was cut on the convention itself.

Since then we’ve become good friends with convention director Martha Donato, who along with her staff reached out early to welcome us to being part of the comics scene. Long Beach provided us with our first ever experience hosting a panel, and one year even went so far as to include our names on their promotional ad copy alongside people such as Amanda Conner. Even if that might have been a one time thing, it was still a thing… and Martha still knows us and has a friendly smile for us every time we attend.

So, I admit, I had some worries. The past couple of outings in 2010 and 2011 had seemed to be a mixed bag, culminating in 2011 when the convention ended up on the short end of the stick compared to the cheaper admission of the new Comikaze Expo which scheduled itself the week after. There’s no denying that Long Beach suffered because of that, with people either choosing to attend Comikaze only, or attending both but saving their purchases for the latter show. That’s not idle guesswork, either, I remember no few people asking us if we’d be at Comikaze and saying they’d come by our table there instead. The crowd was down and the sales were dismal, and this even after Long Beach had scaled back to being a two day show when it was originally three.

Well, what a difference some breathing room makes. Long Beach 2012 was still only two days long, but it was a solid two days, with a good (but not overwhelming) crowd all the way from start to finish. Not only that, but a crowd that seemed willing to spend some money, as well as people who wanted to talk art or comics or do some networking. Dawn’s long heard me lament that our biggest grossing shows are the ones furthest away, with the local ones being much more modest, but all that changed this last weekend. I won’t say we were swimming in money by the end, but it was leaps and bounds above any previous L.A. area tally, in addition to the fun of getting to be next to some good friends making their first try at having a table. I warned them ahead of time that it was my experience pure print books didn’t do so well at comic conventions, but by the end of the show I was (happily) eating crow as Justin and his lovely wife moved at least twenty copies of his various novels.

Dawn was kept busy with commissions, we interviewed with a local paper, I participated in a webcomics panel, we got to talk with some dedicated fans and potential new ones… this outing reminded me of everything that makes the trouble and expense of a convention great. I couldn’t be happier, particularly because the resurgence gives me hope the Long Beach convention will continue happening for the foreseeable future.

But before I close out, I wanted to put focus on one particular discovery we made during the weekend. Across the way from us in Artist’s Alley was some sort of game. It seemed to involve zombies. On Sunday we got the scoop from creator Derak Morrell himself regarding his in-development boardgame, We Are Dead: Zombie Mall Massacre!!

Now there’s been a lot of zombie boardgames out there in the last few years, such as Last Night on Earth, but Derak’s version casts the players completely in the role of the zombies, with some unique mechanics that promise to be a fun experience. Plus the card art is absolutely hilarious. His Kickstarter is already successfully funded as of this writing, but there’s still some stretch goals to be met, as well as being able to pre-order the game as a reward. It’s going on until November 19, so if you’re interested click here to get more details and see if it might be something you’d want to contribute to. Derak seems like he’s really put some thought into his project, and what can I say? I have a soft spot for independent creators putting an entertaining spin on the zombie genre.