Saturday, October 20, 2012

NYCC recap

I've been back a few days now and I'm still kind of processing New York and the comic con in particular. I've been looking forward to that trip, and the con, for a long time and I'm kind of sad it's over. I may get to the one in San Diego next summer (although tickets sell out in mere hours), but I'm always going to have a soft spot for NYCC. It was my first con back in 2008 and it was a blast. I wasn't sure if this one could meet those expectation, but they did. I had just as much fun at this one, which I find hard to believe.

Oh sure, there were frustrations. The crowds, especially on Saturday, were insane. My feet were murdering me, the behaviour of some people (especially the diehards trying to make a buck) was occasionally maddening, but that kind of crap only gets you down if you let it. Any time I got frustrated by that I normally paused, took a look around, and the good mood returned.

What is it that makes a comic con so much fun? For me, it's a chance to come out of the closet. I haven't really been in the geek closet that much the last few years. Been pretty obvious for those who know me. But I've never forgotten what it's like to love something that others looked down on and mocked. I've never forgotten riding the bus home and reading some of the small stack of comics while others on the bus chuckled or mocked.

Even among my circle of friends, many of whom are geeks, I'm the one who tends to be the most knowledgeable about comic books. But at this kind of event, I am not the most knowledgeable. Not even close. And it's great. It's the people, the conversations and the happiness that people have wandering around. People don't tend to judge what you love, because odds are you love something just as weird.

So yeah, maybe you're an adult walking around in a My Little Pony costume, but if you're walking around in a Booster Gold outfit, or carrying a bag of anime figures, or a big stack of comic books for an author to sign, who are you to judge? And most don't? They're there to have fun and to hang out with people who love the stuff they love. It's honestly one of the most positive feeling events I've ever been to.

So what were some of the highlights?

1. Meeting Herb Trimpe, who drew the very first comic book I ever bought, an issue of Godzilla, and telling him how basically the last 35 years of my life is his fault. Which he laughed at and said if it hadn't been him, it would have been someone else. He also did a Godzilla sketch for me.

2. Meeting George Perez, one of the absolute legends of the comic industry and getting him to do a sketch for me. He drew the first super-hero comic I ever bought (Fantastic Four #186). He's also amazingly friendly and chats at length when drawing. However, he also poses for photos, which I forgot at the time. So naturally I had to go back and get another sketch and pose for a photo this time.

3. Artist Alley as a whole was just fantastic. You walk up and down the asile, look at all the artwork and comics being sold by some well-known creators and ones just starting. I had great conversations with artists like Russ Braun (who was mortified when I pointed out he had the artwork for the last pages of the last issue of The Boys on display at his table, which I hadn't read yet, which kind of spoiled things, but I just laughed and said I would have found out long before the next paperback collection came out anyway), Amanda Conner, Cully Hamner (he drew Red which became a movie about two years ago. We discussed the awesomeness of Helen Mirren), Katie Cook, Amy Mebberson, Aaron Lopresti, Terry Dodson and others. I could have spent all four days of the con there talking to people.

4. The random conversations you strike up with people. While waiting to get into Artist Alley I chatted with about a half dozen guys with similar goals to mine - get in and get commissions from favourite artists. We compared notes, showed off previous sketches, talked shop. It was great. I ran into a couple of them throughout the con and we compared what we had managed to pick-up, which was cool.

I also chatted with a dad who was just there for his 13 year old son. He wasn't into comics at all, although his son loved Thief of Thieves and desperately wanted to get his issues signed. Dad didn't get it, but his son loved it and that was enough for him. "I could have easily dropped $150 today on some crap. Instead I'm here and it makes my son happy, so that's good with me." I told him he was a good dad for doing that, which he seemed to really appreciate.

There was the guy who worked for CGC, a company that certifies and grades comics. I consider them the anti-christ of comics, but this guy was nice enough. His job was simply to go around that con with different collectors and witness that the signatures they were getting were from the actual creators. I thought it was a bizarre job. He agreed. "I have a job walking around this con and witnessing people signing books and then saying 'Yeah, that's their signature'. And they pay me for it. God Bless America," he said with a grin.

5. Yeah, the cosplay (costume play) was pretty spectacular to watch. Some of the costumes were astonishingly good, some were astonishing bad and some were just plain weird. But if you ever got bored or tired, you simply found a place to sit down and just watch the con walk by you. Odds are someone in an interesting costumes would walk past shortly. For a few terrifying moments on Saturday I thought I forgot my camera. Thankfully I didn't and got some of my best pics of the weekend that day.

6. Graphic novels priced 50% off US cover or better and they never charged tax. 'nuff said.

7. Just walking around the tables and seeing what people were selling. I picked up a couple of figures (an Aardman Batman and a Hallmark Dark Knight Christmas ornament), t-shirts (I really regret not buying the Dr. Who shirt that featured an owl coming out of the Tardis), posters, video games, and god knows what else. The exhibition floor was huge and I didn't see the last of the tables until Sunday morning. If you wanted to spend lots of money, NYCC had plenty of ways to part the money from your wallet.

8. Oh yeah, being front row centre for a Ben Folds Five concert on Thursday. I've always liked Ben Folds, even if he occasionally comes across as a bit of an asshole. But that was a hell of a good show he put off on Thursday.

9. VIP pass. Thank god for it. I spent an extra $100 for it and it was worth every cent. It was the envy of people whenever they noticed it. It let me skip the massive line-up to get in every day, got me onto the floor of the show about 30 minutes early each day and gave me access to a lounge where I could store my coat and bags for free, where there were couches and chairs, free water and snacks and an ATM if I wanted it. It was an island of calm when the con started to get overwhelming.

Are there things I regret? Sure. I wish I had managed to get to more panels. I kept promising to, but I always seemed to be stuck somewhere else and unable to get back in time. I wished I could have gotten in for the Firefly presentation, but the line for that was unreal. I wish I could have met Stan Lee, who was there, but the line for that was equally unreal. And there's always a book I should have bought or an artist who I wished I could have gotten something from (Amanda Conner broke my heart early by saying she just didn't have the time to do commissions this con, which I understand, but I would have loved something from her).

But that's minor stuff. Look, if you ever have a chance to do one of these comic cons, you absolutely should. Not all of them are going to be as epic as NYCC. I saw a site claim that attendance for the four days was 116,000 people. The last San Diego Comic Con, the largest in North America, was around 130,000. They're big bloody events and not everyone can handle the crowds. But there are plenty of smaller ones and they're really worth it. As long as they're well organized, they tend to be a lot of fun.

I've mentioned photos...I took a lot during my week in New York. About 350. I'm not putting them all up on the blog. If you're friends with me on Facebook, you can see most of them there. For the rest, I'm taking another shot at Tumblr. You can find me at I've put some of the sketches I got at the con up there, and I'll be putting cosplay photos and some shots from around New York over the next few days. After that, the tumblr will be just a collection of photos I've taken up here, pics from people I like and various comic book art. There'll be no rhyme or reason to it, at least at the start.

Anyway, that's enough rambling for this evening. Next post will have nothing to do with New York or comics, I promise...

Last Five
1. Gilligan's Island Theme - Bowling For Soup
2. Follow - Repartee
3. Dark streets of London - The Pogues
4. Diamonds on the soles of her shoes - Paul Simon
5. Tell yer mama - Norah Jones

1 comment:

John, Perth AU said...

My first Star Trek convention was in 1974 in Miami, when I was in junior high school. Only a few hundred were there, but I certainly remember the feeling of *relief* that I had found people who thought like I did. That "look around and drink it in" experience you described is a lot like that. And I got to see the infamous blooper reel! :)

However, while it may sound trite, I find popular conventions to be way too commercial these days. The pure fandom parts are harder to find.

Still, front row center for Ben Folds Five? That would be worth it, if I were younger. :)