ACE Comic Con: Long Island
A quick report by Bob Reyer
After the hustle-and-bustle of putting together our “Best of 2017 Nominations Show” your Cranky Old Uncle Bob needed a respite, and what better way to re-energize than to get into a crowd of folks with like passions, in this case, at the inaugural ACE Comic Con: Long Island !
This might have been a new exhibition, but the guest list was stellar. Not only was there a nice assortment of comics professionals, but the celebrity side of things featured a flock of wrestling stars, from TV there was Elodie Yung and Charlie Cox from Daredevil, and in a major coup, the Justice League was represented by Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, Henry Cavill, and…wait for it… Gal Gadot!
That sort of celebrity roster isn’t totally surprising, as ACE Comic Con is headed up by by Gareb & Stephen Shamus who are veterans of the convention circuit, but our “suburbicons” are not usually so top-lined by media heavy-hitters, which made the expo a must-see. Added to that, with their experience, some of the snags of an inaugural event would have been ironed out in advance, as the pitfalls of putting a show on in a venue as large as the Nassau Coliseum would have been well-known to them going in…although I’d suggest that a freakish early season snowfall on Saturday was something that they couldn’t have foreseen!
There were so many nice touches that made the event really hum in terms of organization; seemingly little things, but making sure that the aisles in the Dealers’ Area were wide enough so that people could actually stop and browse without tying up traffic was a master-stroke, as was showing the celebrity panels on the Jumbotron above that area so that you could, in essence, be in two places at once!
When I first heard about the ACE Comic Con, it seemed more a celebrity autograph show than a “pure” comic book convention, so I have to say that going in my expectations were tempered, but boy, am I glad to have been proven wrong! As soon as you walked through the gates, the entire outer concourse was laid out as an “Artist Alley“, featuring a solid line-up of comic creators from many companies and eras. With only a few hours available to me, I couldn’t stay upstairs as long as I would have liked, but I still had enough time to chat with old friends Peter and Kathleen David (hope you’re feeling better Peter!) and check in with Billy Tucci. I did quickly run into the Dealers’ Area, as I spotted that Liam Sharp had no one at his table on the “veranda”, so picked up a copy of a Wonder Woman issue from his recent run with Greg Rucka to have signed. We had a great conversation about their work on The Amazon Princess, and he had some art from the up-coming Brave and the Bold mini-series (which he’s also writing!) that features Wonder Woman and Batman which he said will seem as a continuation of the Rucka issues! (I’ve invited Mr. Sharp to come on Talking Comics, so keep your fingers crossed that we get schedules to align, as he was fabulous to talk with!)
Heading back to the Dealers’ Area with some time to browse around, I found a nice mix of items with the usual tchotchkes and memorabilia around, but with little duplication, and more than the usual percentage of actual comic book dealers, all with great deals, and many with some very rare items, too! I managed (barely) not to go over-budget, scoring with some nice bargains on scarce trades and singles for myself and as gifts, and along the way engaged in some enlightening conversations on the state of the retail market, such as with Bill of Geek Inc. Comics.
At one end of what once was the home of the New York Islanders and New York Nets (ABA champs with Dr. J, Julius Erving, whose retired number 32 hangs above the arena!) was the Main Stage where the featured panels would take place. (There was also a smaller second stage for the more intimate programming.) Because of the Jumbotron, I was able to “overhear” a good portion of a cool chat about Daredevil with Ms. Young and Mr. Cox, but made certain to get a seat for a panel entitled “Artist Master Class”, whose mission was to have the legendary Neal Adams pencil an image, which would then be inked by Scott Hanna and finally colored by Paul Mounts! For aspiring artists or even just fans of the medium, this was absolutely a golden hour, with much “inside info” on the both the creative and commercial sides of the comic book business.
Only one thing on the weekend could have topped this, and that was the finale of the ACE Comic Con, and that was the Justice League panel headlined by Ray (Cyborg) Fisher, Jason (Aquaman) Momoa, Gal (Wonder Woman) Gadot, and Henry (Superman) Cavill. First off, let me say that it was fortunate they were in a basketball arena, as there must have been three thousand people in attendance, and with nearly everyone around me having just come from a photo/autograph session with one of the stars, the energy level in the room was very high in anticipation of what was to come.
Mr. Momoa came out ahead of his cast-mates as he had to duck out before the finish to catch a flight, but that turned out to be a highlight, as he brought the crowd to an even-more heightened state with his brio and good humour, and their enthusiasm went off the charts when he was joined by the rest. Before the questions began, Ms. Gadot took a moment to thank the people in the audience, saying how wonderful it was to get to meet the fans in a face-to-face setting, and then we were off!
Mr. Fisher was eloquent in describing how welcomed he felt as “the new kid”, and what the character of Cyborg meant to him in the larger context, and Mr. Cavill displayed a tremendous amount of emotion in describing how important it was to be able to get to portray”… the true spirit of Superman, that joy, the essence that needs to be protected”, one who is “…an aspirational as well as an inspirational figure”, and one whom he’s taken to try to emulate in his personal life.
Now, I could write another thousand words about what will go down as one of my all-time convention highlights, but I’ll keep it shorter, starting with these five: GAL GADOT IS WONDER WOMAN! Her moments during this panel were simply breath-taking in how aligned she is with the core values of Dr. and Elizabeth Marston’s creation. When she spoke of how deeply emotional she becomes when meeting the children, describing it as “…a privilege and an honor…” and how “humbled” she felt by the experience, you could hear the catch in her voice, and I caught myself tearing up, too. She talked of her research into the legacy of Wonder Woman and how “…it’s the heart of a human that makes her special” with a “positive message about being inclusive”, closing with how amazing it felt to be “…a vessel for this enduring character”. I was very high on Ms. Gadot’s performance as Diana before this, but my admiration has grown immeasurably after hearing her expound in such a heart-felt way.
In quick conclusion, this inaugural ACE Comic Con: Long Island was a great start to what I hope will become a new yearly ritual, and one that I would highly recommend!
(My biggest thanks go to Ms. Mandy O’Donnell of the ACE staff for securing a Press Pass for this mild-mannered reporter!)
A brief “ps”: At the JL panel, moderator Geoff Boucher asked a question about who would win in a throw-down, the Justice League or The Avengers, and Henry Cavill’s call to the room brought a huge roar and a win for DC, causing Jason Momoa to literally drop his mic! Ray Fisher then said that Wonder Woman and Superman would “take out 90% of them, and the rest of us would be cheering them on from the sidelines!” Gal Gadot said that they are all friends with the Marvel actors, and would love to be able to do a combined DC/Marvel film as “…the more, the merrier, as long as DC comes first!” rrr