ACE is a bandage, a playing card, a hardware store and the Albuquerque Comic Expo. Let me tell you about that last one. That ACE is an annual gathering of artists, creators, vendors, show business talent, comic enthusiasts and followers of popular culture. People who identify with these groups probably know all about ACE; this article is for those people to show to their friends and family. Talking with various local comic and pop culture connoisseurs about ACE, four major themes emerged.
As the name implies, ACE will have loads of comics: new, exclusive, rare and collectible, local, exotic, erotic, web and free. Comics you always meant to read will be there right next to comics you never knew you had to have. Whether you are into intense stories or just love the amazing art, ACE is a smorgasbord. Not only comics: ACE offers all manner of related materials, including games, toys, art, models and DVDs. There will be comics for everyone, but don't misinterpret “something for everyone” to mean “you will like everything you see.” It’s the Brussels Sprouts Effect: If you don't like it, no one can make you eat it.
All that brilliant artistry and amazing story development has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is now known to be human brains. ACE summoned a bunch of super-great brains, supported by the standard attached bodies, to come and be awesome right there with you, the attendee. The guest list runs to 83 artists, writers, actors, voice talents, cosplayers and other celebrities. With limited space, I can only name a few of them, but it is not as if they need much introduction. Batman's art-godfather, Neal Adams, is the guest of honor. The body behind the voice of Philip J. Fry, Stimpy and countless others, Billy West, will be there, as will the body holding the pen that created SpeedRacer, RacerX and Dangergirl, Tommy Yune. Fans of “Breaking Bad” are going to be especially thrilled, because talent from the show will be out in force, including Giancarlo Esposito and a whole “Breaking Bad” Q&A.
A double fistful of competition, strategic games and tournaments, will be run by Burque’s favorite gaming joints (Kaboom Test Labs, Astro-Zombies, Twin Suns, Gamers Anonymous), while national gamer network SuperCon 2K is bringing a killer video arcade with both free play and tournament play. Games of all styles and vintages will be available, but if you want to compete, sign up early. The same goes for the spaceship simulator Artemis; grab your crew and sign up Friday a.m. first thing. Slots are limited for commanding the USS Miko in deep space and are expected to fill up right away.
People-watching ranked highest at ACE for everyone I spoke with, and the costume contest's cash and other prizes speak to the level of excitement. Short of city ordinances about public exposure or indecency, there are no limits on costumes. Go nuts out there, people. Legions of grown men and women stand ready to turn you into an Internet meme. Go now to the ACE website and read the entry rules if you want to compete. The rules are somewhat involved and require paperwork.
This is ACE's third year, and all signs indicate the growth and improvement are explosive. Organizers expect more than 10,000 attendees, and in response to last year's feedback, booked more artists, games, interactive exhibits, social and media events than in the past. In short, this isn't last year's ACE; this one may have gotten special powers from a radioactive bite. And if this is your first ACE, hang on to your officially licensed character socks.
In light of all this magnificent expansion, a wise person might consider a few practicalities. Buy tickets in advance—there is no downside. You get in faster, cheaper, can register earlier for games and get to skip the line at the door. Also, Downtown simply does not have parking for upwards of 10,000 people, so carpool, bike, have mom drop you off, take the bus or teleport. Save your feet for doing laps around the expo itself, and your parking money for graphic goodies.