Wednesday, June 27, 2018

ACE COMIC CON SEATTLE! Centurylink Event Center 6/22/18 - 6/24/18

ACE Comic Con Seattle

Centurylink Event Center and WaMu Theater

Seattle, WA

6/22/18 - 6/24/18


Being a geek to some extent (definitely a music geek, comic geek at one time in my life, Star Wars geek, beer geek, etc), the prospect of covering a convention is always fun. ACE Comic Con burst onto the scene by delivering interactive comic conventions around the US of A. They definitely gained immediate notice from the fans as they were securing top tier actors for appearances at their conventions. Chris Evans (Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), just to name a few of the celebrities they've had appear at their conventions.

Obviously, Emerald City Comic Con has created a market here in Seattle that is second only to San Diego Comic Con. It's really a no brainer for ACE to put on a convention in a city that has proven year after year that it can draw fans from around the globe. So, when ACE decided to make Seattle their next convention stop, many a fan scooped up tickets to attend the con!

Friday was a partial day with Saturday being a full day and Sunday being close to a full day of programming and open hours at the con.

After picking up my press wristband (thanks Jaki - no issues whatsoever when I checked in), I wandered throughout the convention halls. Social media opts (aka - places to take photos and upload and tag to your socials) was the first area - marked by the main stage area (WaMu theater space) for the panels over the weekend.

A second stage was inside the vendor area/artist alley as well as a kid's stage tucked in the back. Autograph area and photo-op areas were near each other, which made it nice for those that, purchased both. No floor jumping to get in line for either.

Concessions were open with their usual overly inflated prices but if you've ever been to a game at the Clink or a show at the WaMu, then this is status quo.

Fans of all ages were everywhere - some in costume, many not (it definitely picked up on Saturday and Sunday). Friday was the most low key of the three days.

The main stage panels were well done and for the most part on time. WWE Superstars Lilian Garcia, Becky Lynch, and Shinsuke Nakamura was the first main stage panel. Lilian moderated as she asked both Becky and Shinsuke questions before turning it over to the fans in the audience. A young fan asked Shinsuke what it was like to punch AJ Styles in the "wee wee" which prompted major laughter (see photos of said fan and of Lilian with head tossed back laughing hysterically).

A Dungeons and Dragons panel was up next with actor Matthew Lillard where they created a game of D&D in the time allotted using fans input.

Closing out the night was an evening with Kevin Smith. I've always enjoyed Kevin's work and his panel was just as funny, witty, and inspiring as I expected.

I took time to wander the vendor booths as well as the artist alleys. Humberto Ramos was doing a panel on the second stage of how to draw comic characters such as Spider-Man. Over the weekend the second stage hosted panels covering topics such as Funko, Star Wars, various pod casts, etc.

The main stage hosted the "big guns" of the weekend - panels with Paul Bettany (Vision) and Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch), Grant Gustin (The Flash - CW series), Civil War panel with Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes/The Winter Solider), Anthony Mackie (The Falcon), and for part of it Tom Holland (Spider-Man) - who was running behind due to his hectic photo-op and autograph schedule.

Sunday brought Hayley Atwell (Captain America and Agent Carter) as well as Loki himself - Tom Hiddleston. Tom Holland joined the last panel for a bit as well - much to the delight of the fans.

Some of the fans were rather rude at Saturday's Civil War panel. Either by shouting out things that weren't necessary or getting up to the audience mics and asking ridiculous things that was solely for them (like saying hi to their friend, etc) - not questions the audience as a whole could appreciate. A pre screening of audience mic questions may need to happen in the future to avoid such time wasters.

Saturday was sold out - which is no surprise as Saturday is always the most popular day at any convention, anywhere. Sunday wasn't as crowded but still there were plenty of people in attendance.

Overall, I had an enjoyable time at the convention. As press it was different taking in a convention versus as a fan where I would be waiting in lines for photo-ops or possibly autographs. This convention was geared toward those fans that want to meet celebrities with everything else as a follow up (artists, vendors, cosplay, etc). There were next to no fan panels, which was a turn off for some fans.

Every fan goes to these conventions for different reasons. If you like to cos play, meet up with new friends/fans, and just geek out the entire weekend, this convention didn't have that vibe compared to an ECCC. Having said that, ACE Comic Con wasn't nearly the size of ECCC, either.

I know the organization on Saturday left much to be desired. Photo op and autograph sessions were running late, panel seating was a mess at times, and just getting through the vendor area was like being at an after Christmas sale. Some of this is to be expected but again - anyone that's been to ECCC is going to compare the good and bad with how that convention is run.

I would respectfully suggest the ACE team work on the organizational aspect for future conventions, here in Seattle or elsewhere. For example seating the general admission ticket holders versus the VIP ticket holders for the main stage panels. This was a cluster on Saturday night.

I would also suggest that if certain celebrities are known to want to take a bit of time engaging with their fans, then the amount of photo-ops and autographs sold needs to be adjusted. Every fan would agree it's awesome when a celebrity wants to take a few seconds to engage with you instead of just being bum rushed through the line. But, that means it's going to eat into the scheduled time and thus a need for less op tickets sold needs to happen. I realize this is hard to accommodate but it should at least be considered.

Live streaming the panels on Facebook was awesome for those fans that couldn't attend the con or for those that wanted to rewatch them (like me) after the day was over. A definite plus for this concept.

Again, overall, I had an enjoyable time at ACE Comic Con Seattle and would go back again. A few tweaks to the system and the convention will be even better next year - should they return to Seattle. Here's hoping they do!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Special Thanks: Jaki for the credentials - thank you so much for the opportunity! I greatly appreciate it!

(click on any photo for a larger image)

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