ACE Comic Con returned to Chicago for their second show in the Midwest this weekend. This was a follow-up to their 2018 show at Chicago's Navy Pier, which was held at the Donald Stevens Convention Center in Rosemont. The larger venue made for a larger show, with even more celebrity guests than we saw last year.
This year's lineup included Marvel Cinematic Universe stars Brie Larson (Captain
Marvel), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Tom Holland (Spiderman), Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Mysterio). Kit Harrington (John Snow) and Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth) were there from Game of Thrones as well as The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus (Darryl Dixon). Kiernan Shipka (Sabrina) and Ross Lynch (Harvey) were there from the Netflix show The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, as well as Taron Egerton of Kingsman and Rocketman fame.
All of these celebs showed up for autograph and photo sessions with their fans, and for panel discussions that were open to all attendees on a first-come, first-serve basis. Photo ops and autographs started around $75, and went up to several hundred dollars for some of the bigger-named stars, such as Chris Hemsworth and Kit Harrington. Some fans purchased VIP packages for that gave them preffered autograph and photo access with a particular celebrity, and preferred seating for that celebrity's panel. This typically meant shorter lines for autographs/photos, and a seat for the panels that was maybe within 30' of the stage for the celebrity panel discussions--a good enough distance for some decent pictures, even if you're not right in the front row. Of course, this requires some planning ahead and waiting.
The celebrity guests are always a huge draw at Ace Comic Con, but the convention itself is significant--and this year's brought more to the floor than last year's show. This year saw a sizable artist's alley that included such names as Larry Hama, Andy Park, and Boss Logic--whose work you've definitely seen on Marvel Universe movie posters. A few comic publishers showed up as well, such as Devil's Due and Caliber.
There were also a lot of vendors selling comics, toys, clothing, and other geeky wares. There was even a vendor selling custom geek-themed furniture! The vendor floor didn't quite take up as much space as the two halls that you usually see at Wizard World Chicago, in the same convention center--but it was still sizable, and there was plenty to do between panels and waiting for photo ops or autographs. Aside from all of the shopping, Playstation had a presence, there were areas with arcade games, and there was a tabletop gaming area with a board game library provided by Good Games.
There were also a lot of great opportunities for non-celebrity photos around the convention. Attendees could get a picture in front of several geek-themed locations for free or sometimes for a fee that included Bilbo's house from Lord of the Rings, the 9 3/4 platform from Harry Potter, and even a giant GI Joe action figure package. And of course, many attendees came in cosplay to take photos, and be seen around the convention. Though, not as heavily attended by cosplayers as other conventions, there was a lot of great cosplay on display. Here are some of our favorites:
This was another great year at Ace, and though it's more expensive than other conventions, it's worth the price if you're there for the celebrities. This convention has grown a lot this year and was a much better fit for the Stevens Convention Center than it was for the convention center at Navy Pier, given its scale. The only problems were a few delays for panels and autograph sessions--something that is hard to avoid when you have a long line of fans waiting to meet celebrity guests. Though Ace is an organization that puts on a good show and deals with issues well, and we can only expect the convention to get better each year.