Saturday, October 12th, was my first opportunity to make it to ACE Comic Con in Chicago.
I like the fact that this year’s event was held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center because it is easy to get to and there is lots of parking. Last year’s location at Navy Pier left a lot to be desired and we never actually made it to the convention.
This year’s event had a lot of major celebrity opportunities including autographs, panels, and photos ops. It is so celebrity-focused, that they really should call themselves a celebrity con rather than a comic con. There is nothing comic about it, except that some of the celebrities are known for their comic book-based characters.
Overall, the celebrity experiences were good with the usual delays and hiccoughs that are usually encountered. As the days wore on, there were more complaints about celebrity interactions, but when you put people in the spotlight for hours at a time, attention and moods will vary. There are mixed comments about the staff in the autograph area, some were helpful, others completely clueless.
The main stage layout was nice, the sound was good, and the oversized viewing screens meant that everyone could see what was going on. The only real problem in there was that the seating rows were too tight together.
Other positive points were that the floor staff and main staff I encountered were knowledgeable, friendly, and easy to approach. Security was easy to get through. The only security complaint I heard was when one guard was overzealous checking a poster tube and might have damaged a poster.
The real problems came on the convention floor. The panel line was badly organized, with apparently no one organizing and redirecting. For the large panels, the line ran straight to the back (and possibly further) effectively cutting off most of the convention floor, until you found someone willing to let you cut through the line. If you had just arrived and saw that line, you may not even realize there was more on the other side. The signage (like many cons) was seriously lacking. Most people really had no idea where to go or when to be there. Most bathrooms were blocked off and inaccessible, so it was difficult to find one. The most obvious bathroom required you to leave the convention floor to access the one in the lobby, which was behind security. The only accessible water fountain was in the lobby by the bathrooms, which made it difficult to get to.
The vendors were many of the same ones we see at all the Chicago conventions, only in smaller quantity. The walkways between vendors was a little tight; if there were mobility issues, there were definitely going to be problems. The Artists Alley section almost seemed like a last minute addition. In some areas, the aisles were way too narrow and the artists seemed to be crammed in. I felt sorry for the artists in the back row by the wall.
Now onto the cosplay photos I promised:
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