Alamo City Comic Con: bigger, better, and still growing

Artist Boulevard at Alamo City Comic Con. Photo by Rick Canfield

For its second annual event, Alamo City Comic Con (ACCC) went all out, bringing in celebrities and comic artists from around the nation. However, the convention struggled somewhat with its panels and management of the large crowds.

Fans from all around Texas flocked to San Antonio for the three-day event. From Houston, fans Joe and Mark Anthony came to see the Avengers’ Clark Greg and legendary comic book creator Stan Lee. After only 10 minutes of waiting in line, Lee signed their custom Spider-Man guitar. For Austinite Elizabeth Parrish, it was her first convention, and she was excited at the chance to meet George Takei. Parrish’s cohort, presenting himself as Wade Wilson (aka Deadpool), came to see cosplayer Nicole Marie Jean and voice actor Troy Baker (The Last of Us, Batman: Arkham Asylum). Through his mask, “Wilson” told me that he was surprised it was only Alamo City Comic Con’s sophomore year.

“It’s a lot bigger than I thought I’d be.”

There was plenty for fans to do at the convention besides gawk at the deluge of celebrities in attendance. Photo ops were bountiful with scale replicas of the classic Batmobile and the Dark Knight’s Tumbler. There were Call of Duty and Destiny gaming tournaments. Tabletop gamers and trading card players had a sizable room dedicated for dueling and RPG adventuring.

Robert Englund, best known for portraying Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street Films, and John Kassir, who was the voice of the Crypt Keeper on Tales from the Crypt, participate in the Legends of Horror Panel at Alamo City Comic Con. Photo by Linda Romero

Last year, a single, main hall housed all of ACCC’s festivities. This year, artists, vendors, and celebrities took over the entire Henry B. Gonzalez Center. Comic book penciller David Finch (Batman: Dark Knight, Justice League of America), writer Denny O’Neil (Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Batman), and Eisner and Kirby Hall of Fame winner Neal Adams (Superman, Batman) had dedicated booths. Ubiquitous vendors sold nerdy goodies: toys, comics, t-shirts, custom light sabers, giant statues of popular comic book characters, video games, and cosplay photography services. Local indie comic darlings Antarctic Press and Guardian Knight Comics had their own enormous booths too.

In general, convention panels are very hit-or-miss, and ACCC was no exception. By far, comic book legend Stan Lee drew the biggest audience and the loudest cheers. As a seasoned convention veteran, Lee packed the Lila Cockrell Theater and put fans in stitches as he answered questions about upcoming projects and how he created the Spider-Man comic. Halo voice actors Steve Downes (Master Chief) and Jennifer Taylor (Cortana) kept things relaxed during their Q&A panel and handed out Halo Mega Blok sets to each person who asked them a question. Cast members IronE Singleton (T-Dog), Scott Wilson (Hershel Greene), Brighton Sharbino (Lizzie Samuels), and Kyla Kennedy (Mika Samuels) from The Walking Dead discussed good times they had on- and off-camera like old friends at a reunion. Without a moderator, the Comic Book Men—Ming Chen, Bryan Johnson, and Mike Zapcic—cut loose with raunchy jokes and an endless stream of teasing with even people asking questions during the Q&A becoming targets.

The panels, however, were not without hiccups. Three out of four celebrity guests did not attend their own panel on Batman. One media person I spoke with reported the same problem with a pro-wrestling panel too. Con volunteers also struggled to manage the massively long lines, and even priority seating for VIP ticket holders seemed uncertain.

In only its second year, ACCC is experiencing growing pains. Nevertheless, when it comes to a super nerdy good time, ACCC still delivers.