My ACE Comic Con Experience

By Douglas Meacham

On the weekend of December 8-10 2017, I had the pleasure of attending the first ever ACE Comic convention at the NYCE Live: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island in New York. I arrived on a chilly Friday afternoon around 3:30 eagerly waiting for the doors to open along with a large crowd of fans from all walks of life. As it turned out, there were many more VIP attendees than General Admission ones and so we, the VIPs, ended up waiting in line for over three hours, much to our chagrin to put it nicely. This was because there was only one set of doors open for both types of ticket holders and one table assembling the swag bags for VIPs upon entry. Many complaints were aimed at the hired and volunteer staff. Later on, ACE would post on their Facebook page that they had resolved this issue for the rest of the weekend by having the VIPs stand in the Expo Hall while waiting to check in, fortunately for single day VIPs arriving Saturday and Sunday.

Once inside, I unthawed while waiting for my swag bag to be put together by a staff member. The table where this was done was very unorganized and the staff were continuously bumping into each other while frantically trying to accommodate people. Some VIPs had the option of entering through the General Admission line to escape the cold (those not waiting in line specifically for WWE celebrities that day), but they would’ve had to wait in a line afterwards towards the end of that first day to get their swag bags. I had decided to withstand the cold and stay in the VIP line because I didn’t want to do that later.

After checking my bag for the correct contents (I had purchased the JL Heroes VIP which included two variants of Superman #75 by some local artists, a couple pairs of Superman socks, and my group photo op/autograph/JL panel passes), I proceeded to walk around Artist Alley, which was situated outside the arena area with the food vendors. Some were still setting up that evening while others were eagerly awaiting fans. I stopped by Dan Jurgens’ and Brett Breeding’s table to get some comics signed and thank them for drawing what I consider to be the iconic Superman for my generation growing up. I had met Brett Breeding once before during the Superman Celebration of 2013 and asked if he’d be interested in returning for the 80th anniversary next year. He said he would love to if he gets asked to go. This was my first time meeting Dan Jurgens and it was an honor to shake his hand.

On Saturday, I started my day by perusing the exhibitor floor in the main arena area. I wanted to get familiar with what the booths looked like for if and when they popped up on Henry Cavill’s Instagram during his Search For Hope challenge. I worked my way over to the autograph area and got pictures taken on the Batman ’66 Batcycle and in the Batmobile (as it turned out, Henry would later hide a piece of art in the Batmobile that day). I then proceeded back to the exhibitor area to take pictures of Action Comics #1 and Superman #1 on display under guard along with other iconic comic issues.

The first half of the day was mainly spent shopping around and trying to get my hands on a piece of Henry’s hidden art to no avail. After lunch, I tried to get Ezra Miller’s autograph session out of the way seeing how he was only attending that day. I had to leave when it was time for my group photo op session because Ezra’s photo ops had gone over and cut into his scheduled autograph time. (I personally believe that not enough time was scheduled for each photo op/autograph session given the amount of people that attended the 3-day event. Those sessions were constantly being juggled around to try to accommodate everyone.)

Then the highlight of my day arrived, when I got in line to anxiously wait to get my picture taken with the Justice League (well, most of them)! It didn’t take long until I was standing excitedly next in line. As the person in front of me was finishing up, Henry glanced over at me with a thumbs up, giving his seal of approval on my outfit. (It’s hard to see in the photos but it consisted of a traditional Superman T, red cargo shorts with a yellow belt, and red socks and sneakers.) As I was directed to stand between Ray Fisher and Jason Momoa while Ezra Miller, Gal Gadot, and Henry Cavill sat up front, Henry swung around quickly and told me he loved my outfit. Now I know he probably said that many times that day to people with much cooler cosplays than mine, but darn it that was awesome and worth the price of admission! I was so flustered afterwards that Ray had to show me stage right out of the photo area.

After coming down from Cloud 9, I sat back in the waiting area for Ezra’s autograph session. Someone had pointed out to me that Henry’s session was the next section over and that his wait time wasn’t nearly as long. I asked that person to hold my spot as I dashed over to get Henry’s autograph. Luckily I made it just in time as he was closing up shop for the day. Once again, he complimented my outfit and shook my hand very firmly not surprisingly. Also not surprisingly, he DOES smell good. I had him sign a 17” x 24” poster of the Justice League in an action pose with Superman hovering above them. I’m amazed I was able to keep it together as I thanked him for being the modern day interpretation of our favorite superhero.

The rest of the day was spent finally getting Ezra’s autograph and Gal’s as well. She was so busy that the show didn’t bother moving her from the photo op area back upstairs to her usual autograph spot. They kept her downstairs so that she could go straight into her autograph session when her photo ops were completed for that day.

I have to say that I was a little disappointed with how her session was handled. We were rushed through very quickly, not even getting a chance to say hello or shake her hand. Gal just scribbled out her autograph after giving me a quick glance, and then I was practically shoved out. I understand that it was getting late in the day and that the show was eager to get through the crowds, but after Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot was the second person I wanted to meet the most.

On Sunday, the final day of the convention, I started out the day by looking for a Christmas gift for my little cousin. I stopped by an exhibitor’s booth and purchased a piece of his art that I knew she would love. We got to talking about Henry’s scavenger hunt and I asked him if Henry happened to hide any pieces at his booth the last couple of days. He said no but he knew of an artist that was already preselected for that day. After describing to me where the artist was located, I decided to scope out her booth and become familiar with her art. She was a young talented artist whose style resembled that of the late great Michael Turner.

Afterwards, I got my autographs for Jason Momoa and Ray Fisher done. Their sessions were much like Henry’s and Ezra’s, not rushed with enough time to shake their hands and tell them that I’m looking forward to their solo films. I spent much of the rest of the day before the Justice League panel checking out the booths I hadn’t visited yet and trying to find one of Henry’s pieces of art. I was keeping a close eye on Henry’s Instagram account for when a clue would be posted at the aforementioned preselected artist’s booth.

The moment came while I was waiting in line for the Justice League panel. As soon as I saw the image pop up on my phone, I asked a friend to hold my place while I made a mad dash for the artist’s booth. But as soon as I arrived, I saw that fine piece of art being handed to a lovely couple cosplaying as the DCEU’s Superman and Wonder Woman. Missed it by THAT MUCH! Oh well, I was happy (and extremely envious) that they were lucky enough to find it and congratulated them.

The last event for the day was the Justice League panel. This was another part of the convention where I, and many others, felt that ACE had dropped the ball. Instead of being seated by priority seating (1st seating, 2nd seating, etc.), we were all lined up together and let in at once. So some who weren’t VIPs got better seats than those who paid top dollar for the full convention experience. Again, there were many complaints. My seat wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t up front and center either (I had 1st seating on my ticket).

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The panel itself was entertaining. Ciaran Hinds couldn’t make it due to having to catch a flight, and Jason Momoa had to duck out early for similar reasons. I loved how Henry Cavill was in character by wearing plaid shirts for all three days. He had fun with the audience when he asked who would win in a battle between his Justice League and the MCU’s Avengers. The entirety of the panel can be viewed via YouTube.

Afterwards, those lucky enough to find the Search For Hope art pieces had the privilege of sitting in on a private Q & A with Henry. Again, unfortunately I was not able to attend, but a video of what was discussed can be found on YouTube.

Overall, my experience was a positive one. I don’t think I’d go to another one is these conventions anytime soon though unless someone really high profile like Henry Cavill was attending. But I’m glad that I invested the time and expense to finally meet our modern day Superman. I love how these events are organized for fans like us to meet and greet the people who portray the characters we love to see on the big and small screens, as well as the many talented people behind the creation of the stories we love to read about.

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