New York Comic Con believe it or not has only been around for 8 years. In that time the attendance has grown from 15,000 in 2006 to a projected 150,000 in 2014, thus putting it neck to neck with the original Comic Con in San Diego. I personally became aware of NYCC in 2009 and wanted to go, but honestly was a bit afraid of attending such a hard core comic book convention, as my fandom is live action based. Floating around in my brain were all the perceptions that accompany comic book conventions and the people that attend them, so I admired from afar.
From some reason, I hadn’t made the connection to San Diego Comic Con and its sister event here in New York. Had I know that all of the major comic book conventions more or less followed the same formula: panels, special guests, screenings, etc.; I would have attended years ago. Last year was my first time attending, but this time because of Evolve web series, I was able to get a reduced Professional Badge.
Unless you’ve been, words can’t really describe the experience, but I’ll try my best. It’s like being a kid in a candy store that’s loaded with all the fun things from your childhood—but filled to capacity like a subway car during rush hour.
There’s literally something for everyone, which was a sign of relief for those of us not rabidly obsessed with comic books. Let’s be honest, all of the popular superheroes were birthed via comic books, so I get the allure and emphasis on the mainstream superheroes and companies that produced them (Marvel vs DC). However, what if that’s not your thing? My recommendation is to come as a fan and observer, take lots of photos and have a blast.
It’s apparent that the highlight (besides purchasing comic books and other collectables) was dressing up as your favorite character. Unfortunately I kept my Comic Con gear to tee-shirts of my favorite superhero (Spiderman) and TV show (The Walking Dead).
I literally saw a diaspora of characters ranging from superheroes, TV/film/video game characters (including robots) to cartoons. The rule of the game is to be courteous and ask permission before just taking pictures of someone at your leisure. It’s a message that greets you at the main entrance “Cosplay does not mean consent”. Below are my particular favorites:
In fact the only problem I encountered regarding Cosplayers were not being able to readily recall a characters or in some cases having no knowledge of that character’s existence. This can become an issue when trying to network with people outside of your own particular fandom. I liken it to speaking a foreign language. I speak Amazing Spider-man and you speak Sub Zero (Mortal Kombat)—Whaaa?
So if you’re like me and not into cosplay, have no fear it’s not all about superheroes or dressing up like one… there’s plenty to whet your appetite.
My particular hunger for the past two years were the panels. I actually think in reverse, the panels are my goal and the actually convention (comic books, independent artists, brand name companies and exhibits) are my downtime activities. Speaking of which there were two of note that I attended.
I. Women of Color in Comics:
The panel was moderated by Regine Sawyer of Lockett Down Productions and included a nice variety of artists, including Alitha Martinez (Marvel, Archie Comics), Comic strip creator Barbara Brandon-Croft, Actress Vanessa Verduga (Justice Women webseries), Blogger Jamila Rowser (Girl Gone Geek Blog), Creators/Artists Alice Meichi Li, Juliana ‘Jewels’ Smith and Cosplayer Geisha Vi.
All of the women focused on their experiences unique to them as women of color in a white male dominated industry and the burden of responsibility to ensure that diverse voices continue to be respected—a topic of discussion that Shadow and Act is all too familiar with.
As the demand for sharing the opportunities afforded easily to the “status quo”, the panelists spoke quite plainly about best practices, such as not only promoting the status quo and elevating your skillset so that we can’t be ignored. Two points I concur with.
2. The Walking Dead:
The TV/Movie panels are always popular, but the most anticipated panel was of course The Walking Dead. Let me tell you, the process to get into that panel was intense. It started with getting up at 6:30 am to get down to Jacob Javits at 8:30 and successfully making the cut off for a wristband (a new process for NYCC due to the expanding attendance), which they were all gone by 9:30. Six hours later riled up fans were treated to the entire cast along with show runner Scott Gimple and creator Robert Kirkman.
During the panel, we were treated to a clip of the premiere episode and each cast member shared what they loved about their character’s arc. It was a pleasure to hear Danai Gurira speak about Michonne with such a poetic revere—a sentiment shared by so many of her fans. She is our hero in that world. As a writer, the respect displayed by both the cast to the original material was a joy to hear. Their devotion to paying homage to the fans was felt throughout the entire panel. Just by making an effort to show up to NYCC, when there seems to be a greater presence of most TV shows/film put into San Diego’s Comic Con speaks to their overall enthusiasm and gratitude for the superstar status now bestowed upon them.
The Q/A portion provided an interesting comparison. A nervous fan expressed her love for The Walking Dead and the impression the TV series, cast and characters have on the general population as being comparable to The Beatles. Whether you agree or not, I can attest that my own feelings for TWD is quite strong and I haven’t been this enamored with a TV series in years. You can read a post I wrote about that HERE. To be able to attend this particular panel was the climax for me.
Aside from cosplayers and panels, you need at least a minimum of two days just to take in all the venders and artists who are really the backbone of these comic cons. Their struggles to even get a slither of recognition is one that deserves much more recognition than I’m giving them currently. There are a plethora of extremely talented independent artists that I’ve met in the last two years, some of which rely heavily on comic cons to promote their comic books.
However, as I experienced, you don’t need to be a hardcore comic book nerd to enjoy New York Comic Con. Just come with an open mind and your most comfortable pair of sneakers or shoes. One of the best aspects of NYCC is that it represents the diversity of New York City with ease. There isn’t a race, gender or age group not present. It’s a true melting pot that has a welcoming feel for all who enjoy the three S’s: superheroes, supernatural and sci-fi with/without a comic book base.
You know the overused quote from Rodney King “Can’t we all just get along”? Well, at NYCC that actually resonates and I must say, it’s one of the rare moments where politics doesn’t intervene to spoil the party. I’ll definitely be back for 2015 and beyond.