Nerd Culture

Everything You Need to Know About Ace Comic Con 2019 in Glendale

Get ready to geek out at this year's Ace Comic Con.
Get ready to geek out at this year's Ace Comic Con. Benjamin Leatherman
Good news, local nerds: This year’s con season is about to begin, and it's going to kick off with one of the biggest geek events of 2019 in the Valley. This weekend, the star-studded Ace Comic Con will make its return to Glendale for a second year with plenty of A-list talent in tow.

Like many sequels, the three-day event — which runs from Friday, January 11, to Sunday, January 13, at Gila River Arena in Glendale — will offer many of the same geeky thrills as its first edition. That includes appearances by actors, actresses, pro wrestling legends, and dozens of prominent comic book artists and writers.

Ace Comic Con is a touring geek event that’s also taken place in other U.S. cities (ranging from Seattle to New York) and is the brainchild of brothers Gareb and Stephen Shamus, who both helped create the ultra-popular Wizard World conventions across North America.

Ace made its Arizona debut last January and brought thousands of local geeks to Gila River Arena for the event. This year’s edition will include appearances by such geek-friendly stars as Tom Hiddleston, Michael Fassbender, Charlie Cox, Krysten Ritter, and David Tennant. WWE wrestlers Alexa Bliss and Becky Lynch will also appear, as will famed comic book creatives like Todd McFarlane, Mike Decarlo, Neal Adams, and Matthew Rosenberg.

Beyond all the celeb-watching, Ace Comic Con in Glendale will feature activities ranging from Q&A sessions and panels to cosplay and trivia contests.

Needless to say, it's going to be three straight days of geek heaven.

What else is in store for Ace Comic Con in Glendale this weekend? We've put together a rundown of everything you need to know about the event in the following guide.

click to enlarge The scene at last year's Ace Comic Con at Gila River Arena in Glendale. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
The scene at last year's Ace Comic Con at Gila River Arena in Glendale.
Benjamin Leatherman
When is it? Ace Comic Con Arizona 2019 will take place from Friday, January 11, to Sunday, January 13, in Glendale. Hours will be from 4 to 9 p.m. on Friday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Where is it? Like last year's event, Ace will happen at Gila River Arena, 9400 West Maryland Avenue in Glendale.

How much are tickets? Single-day general admission is $65 for Friday and $75 for either Saturday or Sunday. Weekend passes covering all three days are $125. Note: All tickets must be purchased online in advance or on-site via a mobile device. The arena’s box office won’t be selling anything related to Ace Comic Con Arizona.

Are there VIP packages available? Yes. A three-day package starts at $305 and include an exclusive badge and lanyard, early entry 30 minutes prior to opening on Saturday and Sunday, exclusive comic books and swag, photo ops with a particular celebrity, and other perks.

Are there age limits? Nope. Anyone and everyone can go, regardless of age. Children 10 and under are $5 per day or $10 for the whole weekend, provided they’re attending with a paid adult. There’s a two-kid limit per adult, however.

How do I get there? Gila River Arena is located near Glendale and 91st avenues. If you’re coming by car, take the Loop 101 North in the west Valley to Maryland Avenue. Valley Metro offers bus service to the arena.

Where can I park? Attendees can park their rides outside of the arena in lots G, J, L, or Yellow, which will open two-and-a-half hours before doors open. It will run you $10 to $35, depending on the lot. Westgate Entertainment District next door will also have parking available for $10 per vehicle.

What's the weather going to be like? Expect chilly temperatures all weekend and the possibility of rain on Saturday and Sunday. Unless you happen to be Storm and can clear up those gloomy skies, that is.

Where can I eat or drink? The arena features a wealth of concession stands and food joints. Options include everything from barbecue and Vienna beef to poutine and other fast-casual items. Fast food spots like Papa John’s Pizza, Wetzel's Pretzels, Rita’s Ice, and Dunkin’ Donuts locations will also be open during the event. Westgate Entertainment District is also within a few minutes walking distance and has plenty of bars and restaurants.

click to enlarge Tom Hiddleston is one of Ace Comic Con Arizona's biggest guests this year. - GAGE SKIDMORE/CC BY-SA 2.0/VIA FLICKR
Tom Hiddleston is one of Ace Comic Con Arizona's biggest guests this year.
Who are the special guests this year? Actors and actresses from Marvel superhero franchises dominate the guest list of Ace Comic Con Arizona. The two biggest are arguably Tom Hiddleston (a.k.a. Loki from the MCU) and X-Men’s Michael Fassbender.

Other geek-friendly stars scheduled to appear include Krysten Ritter from Jessica Jones, Charlie Cox from Daredevil, X-Men: Apocalypse’s Tye Sheridan and Alexandra Shipp, and Taron Egerton from the Kingsman series. David Tennant, who played the 10th incarnation of Doctor Who and Killgrave in Jessica Jones will be making his first-ever con appearance in Arizona.

Phenomenally popular WWE wrestler Becky Lynch will also be at Ace Comic Con Arizona, as well fellow superstar Alexa Bliss and former ring announcer Lilian Garcia.

How much are autographs and photo ops? Basically, prices vary by guest. Alexandra Shipp, for instance, charges $55 for an autograph and $65 for a posed photo op, while you can score either Tom Hiddleston's signature or a photo with the actor for $225 per person for each. A full rundown of autograph and photo op prices is available on Ace's website.

For autographs, you’re allowed to bring your own item or use one of the photos provided by the con. For photos, up to two adults and two children are allowed per photo, and organizers say that photo ops will be a "rapidly moving process." In other words, don't dawdle.

Who’s going to be in the artist alley? A lot of notable comic book artists, writers, and creatives. Names include Todd McFarlane, Mike Decarlo, Neal Adams, Matthew Rosenberg, Billy Martin, Adam Ellis, David Mack, Phil Ortiz, Joe Quinones, Mico Suayan, Zu Orzu, Erin Lefler, Brianna Garcia, Samantha Sawyer, Dominic Glover, and dozens more. (A full list can be found here.) Their tables and booths will be located along the ground floor concourse inside the arena.

click to enlarge A family of cosplayers at last year's Ace Comic Con in Glendale. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
A family of cosplayers at last year's Ace Comic Con in Glendale.
Benjamin Leatherman
Can I wear a costume? This is a geek event, so yeah. There were plenty of folks at last year’s con who wore costumes, many of which were inspired by the special guests and their most famous roles. In other words, feel free to dress as Magneto, Loki, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, the Tenth Doctor, and Becky Lynch. All other costumes are, of course, welcome.

A cosplay contest will cap off Saturday at the con and will offer a chance to show off your get up and possibly win some prizes in the process. Start time is 6 p.m.

Where's the vendor hall? Unlike last year’s event, which featured vendors selling their stuff on the arena floor, booths will be located along the upper concourse that rings the venue. As you’d expect, they’ll offer all manner of toys, games, clothing, jewelry, books, collectibles, and props for purchase.

Will there be panels and programming? Of course. Special guests will participate in Q&A sessions and panels devoted to specific shows or movies (such as Daredevil or X-Men: Dark Phoenix). Between the gabfests, there will be art workshops, like when Marvel artist Stacey Lee conducts the “Live Drawing Spider-Gwen” panel. All events will take place on the main stage in the center of the arena.

click to enlarge WWE superstar Becky Lynch (a.k.a. "The Man") is set to appear on Friday at Ace Comic Con. - COURTESY OF WWE
WWE superstar Becky Lynch (a.k.a. "The Man") is set to appear on Friday at Ace Comic Con.
Courtesy of WWE
What’s the schedule like? In a word, busy. The vendor area and artist alley will be operating right after doors open each day with main stage events kicking off approximately 30 to 90 minutes later. Here’s a full rundown of when Ace Comic Con Arizona's biggest events will happen.

Friday, January 11

4 p.m. — Doors open
5 p.m. — Alexa Bliss Q&A (hosted by Lilian Garcia)
5:30 p.m. — “You Can Draw in 30 Minutes” with Mark Kistler
6 p.m. — “Dungeons and Dragons for Beginners” with Sam Witwer
7 p.m. — Becky Lynch Q&A (hosted by Lilian Garcia)
8 p.m. — ACE Universe trivia contest
9 p.m. — Doors close

Saturday, January 12

10 a.m. — Doors open
10:30 a.m. — Live Crayon sculpting with @mumblestohimself
11:45 a.m. — Sam Witwer Q&A
1 p.m. — X-Men: Dark Phoenix panel with Michael Fassbender, Tye Sheridan, and Alexandra Shipp (hosted by Angélique Roché)
2:15 p.m. — Live oil painting with Clinton T. Hobart
3:30 p.m. — Jessica Jones panel with Krysten Ritter and David Tennant (hosted by Angélique Roché)
4 p.m. — “You Can Draw in 30 Minutes” with Mark Kistler
4:45 p.m. — Daredevil panel with Charlie Cox (hosted by Angélique Roché)
6 p.m. — ACE Comic Con cosplay contest
7 p.m. — Doors close

Sunday, January 13

10 a.m. — Doors open
11:45 a.m. — “Live Drawing Spider-Gwen” with Stacey Lee
Noon — “You Can Draw in 30 Minutes” with Mark Kistler
1 p.m. — Taron Egerton Q&A (hosted by Angélique Roché)
2:15 p.m. — “Super Chill” with Adam Ellis
3 p.m. — “You Can Draw in 30 Minutes” with Mark Kistler
3:30 p.m. — Loki panel with Tom Hiddleston
5 p.m. — Doors close

What should I bring? Your ID, a fully charged cellphone, geeky clothing or a costume, a bag or backpack, some cash, and comfy shoes.

What shouldn’t I bring? Anything dangerous or disruptive, including real weapons or inappropriate costumes. When it comes to cosplay stuff, Ace Comic Con won’t allow gun-like objects or projectile weapons (either real or fake). Bladed objects like knives and swords made from wood or metal are also forbidden, as are hammers, spears, or clubs. (It’s cool if such objects are made from soft plastics, foam, or cardboard, however.)
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.