In our coverage leading up to the event, it was already becoming clear that ACE Comic Con Midwest would be a special convention. From the frankly unheard of line-up (outside of San Diego Comic Con, maybe) to the variety of artists, vendors, and people working in the comic and entertainment industry, it was shaping up to be an epic event before it even started.
When doors opened to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center on Friday, October 11, it took some longer walks to familiarize ourselves with the layout and get an overview of the convention itself, not because it was disorganized, but because it was big. Bigger than the ACE event at Navy Pier last year and bigger than most conventions all of us had attended. We started with an exploration of the artist alley, checking in with Erin Lefler and Brianna Garcia, both of whom we had been lucky enough to interview leading up to the event and with whom we were delighted to catch up – and I didn’t fail to purchase my print this time, which means that yes, you can learn from your mistakes (of waiting until the Sunday of a convention to buy anything).
What we found in the artist alley was an array of different artists working with various mediums, displaying some of the most beloved characters, franchises, and original work. If you were looking to buy art prints, pins, accessories, or other small trinkets, artist alley was the place to be. And it didn’t stop at fan artists and original artists either. Fans of the Marvel universe were in for two very special treats as far as art was concerned.
One of the highlights was seeing Andy Park and his displayed work. Andy has been working in the visual development department of Marvel Studios since 2010 and had an extensive career in comic and game design before that. At Marvel Studios, he works on developing characters, costumes, landscapes, and so-called key-frames for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Some of his work includes visually stunning films such as Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, the Captain America trilogy, and many more. Fans were able to buy original prints, including the newly designed Black Widow and WandaVision posters that debuted at D23 Expo. I met Andy briefly and can’t wait for a proper chat that will hopefully happen soon – I witnessed a humble, excited man chatting with fans about his work and signing and taking pictures with everyone, even though for the whole weekend there were always people lined up all the way around his booth in the artist area.
The second highlight was meeting the artist known as BossLogic, who is mostly known for art and designs surrounding the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His work has been displayed by Disney, Marvel, on posters, and as digital art on Blu-ray and DVD releases, as well as on some of the cast members’ social media. One of my favorite pieces of art he has done was in the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame, which shows Captain America with Mjölnir and one word: “Worthy.” I knew I had to buy a print of this as soon as I found out BossLogic was attending. I was lucky enough to get a signature from him as well. His work is truly remarkable, so make sure to check out his Instagram and Twitter for more displays of his work!
Marvel wasn’t the only fandom represented this weekend. On Friday night, Harry Potter fans got to hear from Josh Herdman, who played Goyle in all eight of the movies. The panel started with a moderator asking him several questions about his career overall. Then, it opened up to the audience for fan questions.
Herdman shared some of his favorite stories from the set and what it was like shooting some of the scenes that required special effects. He told the story of the well-known floating cupcake scene in the Chamber of Secrets, when Goyle and fellow bully, Crabbe, are duped by Harry and Ron to gain access to the underground chamber. Herdman said the scene required several takes of stuffing their faces with cupcakes. Endless cupcakes may sound like fun, but they did so many takes that his poor co-star in that scene, Jamie Waylett, got sick. They eventually pulled it off, and we see the result in the movie when Crabbe and Goyle pass out from the magical floating desserts. We also learned that Herdman is not just an actor but a mixed martial arts fighter as well. He shared that his father and brothers were boxers when he was growing up, and he reflected on how that influenced him to pursue an MMA fighting career. It sounds like his hard work is paying off, because he’s currently undefeated!
While Josh Herdman intrigued us by reminiscing about his Harry Potter days, his young son, who was in the audience, stole the show at the end of the panel. He raised his hand, introduced himself as Herdman’s son, and asked a thoughtful question about Voldemort. He was adorable and quite brave for speaking in front of all those adults!
Friday’s events wrapped up with Herdman’s panel, and before we knew it, the first day of Ace Comic Con had come to a close. We weren’t really prepared for what was to happen next, but we were sure there was still plenty to see. Stay tuned for what Saturday and Sunday had in store!