This weekend’s Ace Comic Con Phoenix was the second attempt to move the convention experience to an arena venue, in this case the Gila River Arena, home of the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes (ironic, I know). The Beat’s AJ Frost was on the scene and will file his own report, but from reading the social media postings it appears to have been another mixed bag.
Technically the show is still going on today, with a day of Wrestling photo ops. But the big guns – a big Marvel line-up of Chris Evans, Tom Holland Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Hayley Atwell, Jon Bernthal and more – were set for the weekend.
The biggest problem this time was illness. Karl Urban cancelled his appearance entirely due to illness and Chris Evans, one of the big draws at the event, had to cancel Sunday due to being unable to get out of bed. It’s flu season and its hitting a lot of people, so this all goes under the act of God category. Get well soon, Chris and Karl!
Unfortunately Evans’ cancellation led to a lot of confusion over refunds. People who had purchased an Evans photo op were offered Tom “Spider-Man” Holland instead, but some people didn’t want that, understandably. Ace offered various make goods but there seems to have been a choatic process:
When a huge star gets sick it’s a big financial hit on a show, but I’ll get back to that in a bit.
All that said, a lot of people had a swell time. The local paper had cosplay photos, and declared it “marvelous fun.” After attending the first Ace Comic Con out on Long island my feelings were pretty ambivalent, but I know it’s a big thrill for a lot of people and I don’t want to rain on their parade.
But it sounds like the arena venue is not all that awesome for the comic con experience. From descriptions and photos, it sounds like the set up was much like it was in Long Island: vendors on the arena floor, artists set up on the mezzanine – where concessions are located – and photos ops and autographs on another level. It was definitely a little odd at Long Island, and it doesn’t sound like the kinks were worked out.
Among the complaints people had: lack of signage showing where the various areas were; lines for photos ops crowding the vendor area; bad lighting; difficulties for disabled attendees; and a general sense of confusion among con personnel. The big celebrity panels were held in a curtained off area inside the arena, but comics panels were in another location…which was very difficult to find and resulted in some panels being cancelled since no one could find the panel room.
The general sense I get is that the arena layout can work but it will take a bit more fine tuning to iron out the kinks.
However, my main complaint about the Long Island show seems to have been ironed out – more panels with the big stars that you could see even without a VIP ticket. Also, it seems that in his first convention appearance, Tom Holland was a total star. If you don’t believe me check out Instagram. ANd of course people loves some Sebastian Stan.
Some photos from the con:
The day before the show Stan Lee got the keys to Glendale from the mayor. It was his first public appearance since allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced. To be honest, I find it a bit hard to watch. Stan is doing the best a 95 year old man can, but he sounds hoarse and at times, confused.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.