The inaugural year for a con is usually pretty modest – a single ballroom with bare floors and minimal staffing. New York Comic Con, now the second largest con in North America, started as a single exhibit hall stuffed to the gills with artist alley squeezed into the walking corridor.
Atlantic City Boardwalk Con (aka ACBC) was not one of the modest little cons — this one debuted last weekend with big ideas that shows terrific promise as it grows.
ACBC felt like it’s a con that’s been running for years – great signage, carpet (!!) and innovative floor plan ideas. To honor a great comics fan, ACBC has Ty Way which is a path reserved for handicapped attendees so it’s easier for them to move around.
There’s also plenty of walking room with nice, wide aisles and some interesting angles to encourage wandering. The centerpiece of the floor plan was a massive Marvel booth which was actually bigger than the one they take to San Diego. (More on the Marvel booth in a moment!)
Guest list is always the lifeblood of any con and unfortunately Stan Lee had to cancel. He was still well-represented with the Stan Lee museum and a large sample of his own collection of movie props and artwork which you can read about here.
There was also an exhibit from the Wonder Woman Museum with some historic pieces of art.
Other celebrities were in the house and were regularly announced with the PA system. Here’s The Walking Dead/Guardians of the Galaxy’s Michael Rooker spontaneously grabbing the mike to greet the con:
Later on, Yakko and Wakko Warner were joined by Winnie the Pooh on the PA system. What? Yes, Jess Harnell, Rob Paulsen and Jim Cummings, voice actors extraordinaire, also made a few announcements as well! They were meeting fans in the autograph area (called The Backlot), but they were also around for a panel called Twisted Toonz.
Ever wonder what the Avengers would have been like if it starred William Shatner, Christopher Walken and Pinky and the Brain? We got a sample of that courtesy of the Twisted Toonz panel which also featured the amazing voices of Tress MacNeille, Maurice LeMarche, Jeremy Shada and Josh Keaton. (See Ace’s recent post on Animaniacs if you are unfamiliar with these talents!) For each scene, the characters would be voiced by familiar cartoon characters or celebrities. The actors are given no time to prep the character or the script so its a completely spontaneous reading. Here’s a sample – it’s the first scene with Black Widow when she’s in Russia and Coulson calls her to let her know Hawkeye has gone to the dark side. The voices are played by:
Luchkov the Russian interrogator – Pinky (Rob Paulsen)
Natasha/Black Widow – The Brain (Maurice LaMarche)
Underling Russian muscle guy who answers the phone – Dizzy Devil from Tiny Toons (Jim Cummings)
Agent Coulson – Finn from Adventure Time (Jeremy Shada)
Narrator – Ray from Princess and the Frog (Jim Cummings)
Not only are these actors insanely talented voice actors, but they are terrific at improving in character. And when the character list includes singing Michael McDonald, the Warner brothers (and the Warner sister!), Foghorn Leghorn, Bill Cosby, Pee Wee Herman, the script goes to interesting places! I highly recommend attending a reading if you get a chance to hear them!
In addition to this all-star cast of voice actors, The Backlot also included William Shatner, Kevin Smith, the Comic Book Men, Adam West and Burt Ward, Elsa and Anna from Once Upon A Time, Verne Troyer, Manu Bennett, Willa Holland, Jason Mewes and the cast of the 80’s cult film, The Warriors.
The Marvel stage hosted, of course, the usual Super Happy Giveaway during the last hour of each day. There were also Marvel creator and artist signings, exclusives and the usual stuff.
There was also an EXTREMELY short visit by the Ant-Man billboard — it stayed for 2 minutes and then was hidden away for some strange reason. A whole bunch of us were dying to get a photo with it!
Since the Marvel stage was the center of the exhibit floor, it also hosted some spontaneous events like a Michael Rooker/Grant Imahara (Mythbusters) photo session (Rooker almost dropped Mjolnir on his foot so I guess he’s not worthy)…
…a visit from Brian Tee (The Wolverine, Shredder in the upcoming Ninja Turtles movie, Jurassic World)…
… a mini-play by the New Jersey Jedi…
…and even an impromptu concert by DMC of Run DMC (I kid you not). He has a comic book out and was doing panels and signings. He decided to get up on the stage and gave a motivation “stay in school” message before launching into “It’s Tricky” to the delight of the con.
There was also a variety of different booths on the floor with the 501st Legion debuting a new booth – the trash compactor from Star Wars! Beautifully done and really comfy with all that foam!
And ACBC also hosted The Garage which included an impressive collection of cars from different films:
For its first year, the show was very well thought out. There was a nice variety of things to see and the PA announcements with the actors made the show feel more intimate. I’m very curious to see what the show has in store for its second year! (Dates to be announced.)
Comment below or email me at Erica@MikeTheFanboy.com
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