It’s hard to reconcile your opinions about a giant, mega-con like NYCC when it’s simultaneously one of the most exhausting experiences of your life, and one of the most fun and rewarding. If I had one piece of advice to give someone who was thinking about going to the New York Comic-Con, it would be this: bring the most comfortable pair of shoes that you own. I don’t care if they’re filthy, beat to hell, and smell like an odd combination of sulfur and a gas station bathroom. Trust me, you’ll need them. You will be sore, tired, cranky, and hungry, but you’ll also be in awe of your surroundings, you’ll smile from ear to ear at the colorful comic book/sci-fi spectacle surrounding you and assaulting your senses from every direction.
In my two days covering the con for the Geek League, I got to see Doc Brown himself, Christopher Lloyd answer questions from fans; I saw professional wrestlers that I watched in front of the TV as a young kid; met one of my all-time favorite comic book writers/artists, Larry Hama, who pencilled me an awesome Snake-Eyes sketch; took hundreds of photos of amazing cosplayers; got my photo taken in the 1966 TV version of the Batmobile, the DeLorean from Back to the Future, Batgirl’s motorcycle, and the Mystery Machine from Scooby-Doo; saw a three-minute sizzle-reel from the upcoming fifth season of The Venture Brothers at a panel hosted by the show’s wildly funny creators, Jackson Publick & Doc Hammer (the panel was run like a 70’s talk show); attended a panel featuring the host of TV’s Toy Hunter, interviewed Robert Carradine and Curtis Armstrong, aka Louis Skolnick and Booger from Revenge of the Nerds (a transcription of that interview will be published here soon); and most importantly, I got to geek out over all of the stuff I love with my brother and some really amazing friends, some of whom had tables in artist alley or were there as a member of the press.
The dichotomy of a New York Comic-Con experience is this: you will leave completely and utterly spent, but you will also leave with a smile on your face, and with feeling that you rode into battle side-by-side with Valkyries in a shimmering, sprawling nerd Valhalla. Now, onto the report card![divider]
The New York Comic-Con is housed in the mammoth Javits Convention Center, a steel-and-glass leviathan looming on the City’s lower West side that boasts approximately 675,000 square feet of exhibition space. And boy, do they need that space, because an ocean of humanity well over 105,000 strong flows through its halls, panel rooms, and food courts, sweeping away all in its wake. At times, the sheer number of people makes the main lobby/hall extremely difficult to navigate, but this occurs primarily in the peak afternoon hours on Saturday.
The main showroom, where the vast amounts of geek treasures and baubles lie in wait, is very spacious, covered in plush red carpeting that feels delightfully springy and soft under weary feet. It’s here that you’ll find all of the heavy hitters of the geek culture galaxy touting their latest wares: DC Comics, Marvel Comics, LEGO, Nintendo, Image Comics, all of the major video game developers like Capcom, Square Enix, and the like, along with hundreds and hundreds of vendors, artists, and content creators hawking t-shirts, toys, novels, statues, video games, webcomics, movie prop replicas, rare imported items, and so much more.[divider]
While not quite up to par with the major news-breaking panels at the San Diego Comic-Con, NYCC is still flush with star power and a wealth of panels and workshops that cover a wide spectrum of geek interests from film, TV, video games comic books, webcomics, role-playing games, anime, and more. This year’s Con featured a kick-off concert by the recently re-united Ben Folds Five; and boasted a Walking Dead panel with most of the show’s cast in attendance; a panel with Bruce Campbell unveiling a trailer for the remake of The Evil Dead; a Firefly reunion panel with Sean Maher; Jewel Staite, and a surprise appearance by Nathan Fillion; a Marvel TV panel in which Joss Whedon (via pre-recorded video) broke the news that actor Clark Gregg (who was in attendance) would be returning as Agent Phil Coulson in the SHIELD TV series; and the usual panels from the major comic book publishers like Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, and others.(I personally attended a Q&A panel with actor Christopher Lloyd, a Venture Brothers panel with show creators Doc Hammer & Jackson Publick, and a Q&A with the host of The Toy Hunter.)
Ostensibly, unless your sole interest is an underground Bolivian graphic novel about a time-travelling rooster (feel free to use that idea, Bolivian readers!), then you shouldn’t have an issue finding a panel or event that you’ll enjoy.[divider]
Cosplay/Photo Ops: A
There are a lot of cosplayers at NYCC. A LOT. My brother and I took photos of well over 100 cosplayers, but that is a microscopic sampling of the thousands and thousands of creative, sexy, awesome, and bizarre cosplayers that paraded around the Javits Center over the course of the show’s four-day run. If you’re coming to con to take photographs of people dressed up as superheroes and other geek culture icons, you will not leave disappointed.[divider]
NYCC loses a full letter grade this year primarily for the construction/renovations that were going on during the convention, preventing access to areas that were open in the past, and also for burying “Artist’s Alley” (the area where all of the comic artists – both independent and professional – have tables selling prints, sketches, and other original artwork) in an out-of-the-way hall that required a long, time-draining walk through the highly congested main concourse. Signage was adequate in the panel area, and there were maps of the entire convention readily available in the free, full-color Con program. Things are relatively easy to find at the NYCC, but you’ll need to leave yourself extra time to navigate your way to panels or signings through the teeming masses, especially during peak hours on Saturday.[divider]
If you purchase your tickets in advance, the prices are very reasonable for what is basically the second-largest comic convention in the world. Single day passes range from 30-40 bucks depending on the day (Saturday is the most expensive), and you can get a full four-day pass for $85. That price gets you into just about every area of the convention, and all of the panels and events as well. Of course, you have to play extra to have an artist draw you a sketch, have a celebrity sign an autograph, or to pose for photos in the vehicles like the DeLorean, but that’s par for the course for any major convention. The food choices are also surprisingly decent and reasonably priced (for New York, anyway). Your budget will probably be busted by paying for travel, food, and accommodations in the city itself, but I can’t fault the convention for that.
For more of our photos from the NYCC, CLICK HERE.
For our NYCC Cosplay photo gallery, CLICK HERE