@MarvellousKaty Reports On New York Comic Con

New York Comic Con

One of our awesome Twitter followers, @MarvellousKaty, sent in this report of her time at New York Comic Con! She attended the entire weekend and probably has a better view on NYCC then I did. I was only there on Saturday and felt a little overwhelmed. It sounds like the day to be there was Friday, which doesn’t surprise me. I don’t see too many people taking off work to attend during the week, unlike with San Diego Comic Con. That might change in the future though!

@MarvellousKaty Reports On New York Comic Con
By: Katy H.

 

It’s an expensive business, being a fangirl (or –boy), but especially when you live on the wrong side of the Atlantic. Sometimes though it’s just too hard to resist the call of an event like New York Comic Con when you realise that the first thing you do every morning is check their twitter feed for updates.

I managed to score a four day pass (only $65!) just before they sold out, found a hotel in Midtown and booked a flight all on the same day.

As my flight landed in NYC and the first class passengers were disembarking I thought to myself ‘bloody hell that guy looks like Jon Snow’ and then ‘hmm, but he’s far too short, so there’s no way he is Kit Harington’. But as I stood in the line for immigration, trying not to look shifty and worrying, as always, about whether the nice man was going to query just why I’ve visited the US over 15 times in the past six years I realised that it was indeed Kit Harrington as he was on crutches. Well, who knew, Jon Snow isn’t tall, dark and handsome as I’d always imagined, but then two out of three isn’t bad. Little did I realise that Kit Harington was actually on his way to NYCC too – to appear in the Silent Hill panel. If I’d only known that I could have casually struck up a conversation in the line to have our customs declaration cards vetted. Sliding Doors…

Unfortunately, bad planning on my part meant that even though I landed at 4pm on the afternoon of Thursday October 11 I was too tired to walk down to the Javits Center where the con is held. Instead I spent the evening unpacking the two suitcases of books/comics that I’d brought with me to get signed and watched The Vampire Diaries (back on form!) and Beauty and the Beast (that’s an hour of my life I’m never getting back).

Friday morning was an early start. I made a beeline for the Marvel booth and positioned myself third in line. The booth wasn’t actually open yet and as the line started to grow anxious fans asked each other what the line was for to make sure they were in the right place. Nobody was 100% sure – some wanted to get their hands on the NYCC variants of AvsX, some wanted the NYCC exclusive t-shirts, others the exclusive NYCC mug featuring Rocket Racoon. Some crazy folk (as in me) wanted at least one of everything on offer.

After securing my Marvel items (and narrowly avoiding buying 10 copies of each variant because of a strange breakdown in communication) I headed straight for the Lego booth and spent some time pawing at the Avengers Lego. Odd combinations of characters meant that if you wanted the whole team you’d need to buy three or four sets. In the end I sacrificed Iron Man and Black Widow for Cap and Hulk and limited myself to two boxes of the precious plastic blocks.

The rest of Friday was spent walking the show floor, doing more shopping and heading to the IGN Theater to try to catch another glimpse of Kit Harington at the Silent Hill panel. This was my first experience of the maze of rooms that exists on the lower level of the Javits Center. After a search that lead us through lines of people waiting for smaller panels, lines of people waiting for autographs and lines of people waiting for food we eventually found a big sign declaring we had found The IGN Theater, only to be foiled at our attempt to enter and told that the actual entrance was back past the food court, turn left, left again… With half an hour to go before the panel, and knowing that Venture Bros was in the IGN Theater after Silent Hill we joined the snaking line and hoped for the best. As with SDCC, the rooms at NYCC aren’t cleared between panels, so whether we would make it in was anyone’s guess. A game of geek volleyball entertained everyone for a while, until some mean spirited person deflated the ball, much to the derision of the masses… someone always has to be Loki and spoil the fun for everyone.

We got in to the panel without a problem and easily found good seats – the IGN Theater is a nice size, and I don’t think there were any bad seats at all – however, I found the snack stand at the back of the room to be completely unnecessary and it just served as an annoyance/distraction – I don’t really want to smell hot-dogs or listen to people mumbling their popcorn orders whilst trying to concentrate on what panellists are saying.

After the panel we headed to Artists’ Alley. This is one of the biggest attractions at NYCC. Artists’ Alley is huge. I could not have imagined how much space would be allocated to it. The hall was bright and airy, very well lit, made good use of space and a clear floor plan set out where each artist was, in case you wanted to make a bee-line for someone and request a sketch. I headed straight for Tim Sale’s table, having carted my ‘Long Halloween’ Absolute Edition over from the UK, I was desperate to shake the man’s hand. I was to be disappointed though as Tim had had to cancel at the last minute and even though his art work, books and prints were there, he himself was not. After a while chatting to his manager/agent, Jason, I was treated to a look at Tim’s portfolio and ‘oohed’ and ‘ahhhed’ my way through beautiful pen and ink drawings and pencil sketches from various works, and then my heart skipped a beat… a full page pen and ink drawing of the Joker from ‘Dark Victory’. ‘Just keep turning the pages’ I told myself over and over again… but then I found myself staring at the Joker once more. Now, I cannot express how much I love Tim Sale’s Joker. He is a beautiful, evil, malevolent being… I needed that piece of art in my life and somehow I accidentally fell and my credit card flew out of my hand into the card reader. I can’t explain how it happened, but I am now the proud owner of a Tim Sale original. I was then asked by Jason if I wanted to see something a little bit secret and very special – at which point my eyes did this O.O and I did a little dance. Jason then produced two more portfolios of Tim’s work. Much of which was the artwork for the TV show ‘Heroes’. Whatever you might think of what Heroes turned into as a show, there is no doubting the brilliance of the first season and the amazing artwork Tim produced for the show. NBC still owns the work and has never given Tim the rights to display or sell it – so getting to look at this portfolio really was a treat.

Friday came to a close with me on an exhausted high, planning my Saturday of panels (or Marvelday as it was now being called) and getting an early night.

Overall ratings for Friday:

9/10 – Very manageable, easy to move around the show floor, no problems getting in to panels –

Saturday

A broken jet-lagged sleep meant that I didn’t get to the con until 11am and the first thing I noticed was how crowded it was. It was much more difficult to navigate the show floor and access booths and moving between levels meant lining up to get on an escalator.

I had already abandoned all hope of being able to get in to either the Walking Dead autograph lottery or the Walking Dead panel, as people had apparently started lining up the night before. My days of sleeping on the pavement for a panel are well and truly over, and the thought of SDCC style craziness is no longer my cup of tea. Instead I decided to focus on getting some autographs on my books. Priority #1 being Jeph Loeb. So I joined the line at the Marvel booth, clutching my (incredibly heavy) Long Halloween Absolute Edition and waited patiently for an hour or so. Meeting Jeph was wonderful – he was incredibly nice and very humble when I gushed about LH being my favourite book. He asked me if I wanted him to personalise the autograph and I might have whimpered ‘yes please if you don’t mind’ or something similar. I don’t care what anyone thinks of his work on Ultimates – he’ll always be a favourite of mine.

The afternoon was blocked out for Marvel panels, which were fortunately all in the same room, starting with Stan Lee. I made my way to the lower level and was surprised to find the kind of line I’d expect to see outside Ballroom 20 at SDCC – and to my horror, this was the Stan Lee line. Security had blocked off the entry way and were saying the line was full, but I was not going to be foiled, so took my chance to squeeze around the side of a pillar and to the back of the line. Not something I would usually recommend, but given that a few hundred people joined the line behind me, I don’t think it was that naughty. After about an hour and a half I was almost at the front of the line… only to hear talk of the room being full. Then I heard someone say ‘only two more people’. There were five people in front of me – I was aghast! Ten minutes later there was an announcement that we would be let in but it was ‘standing room only’. I didn’t care, I was just happy to be getting in. Once inside I was lucky enough to spot one solo seat – and was grateful to be able to rest my weary legs after all that standing in line.

Stan’s panel was great – the fact that he is slightly hard of hearing meant that most of the moderator’s questions were ignored and Stan just lead the discussion with the things he wanted to talk about – but this is Stan Lee – so no one was going to argue.

The next panel was the Marvel TV panel – hosted by my friend Jeph Loeb. I managed to move right up to the third row for this and almost cried when Clark Gregg appeared. I’m sure you’ve all read about the announcement of Coulson’s return in S.H.I.E.L.D elsewhere, so I won’t bore you with the detail, but let’s just say there was a lot of cheering, whooping and yes, maybe a few tears were shed.

The final panel of Marvelday was Joe Quesada’s ‘Cup of Joe’ panel – featuring anyone who’s anyone at Marvel and giving fans the opportunity to ask questions. I think this is a great idea, and wish I had had the courage to get in line and ask the panel how a woman in her 40s could change careers and become a comic book artist (no, really) but I didn’t.

Well, yes, this type of panel is a great idea in principle… but as often happens with unmoderated fan q&a sessions it soon deteriorates into a succession of ‘I just wanted to tell you that you rock’, ‘can I have a job’ or ‘can you sign this for me’ silliness, leaving little time for those great questions that could mine the depths of the collective Marvel mind. I am also always astounded at how few people understand the concept of ‘quick fire questions that have yes/no answers’ and how that guy who is told he is the ‘last person to ask a question so make it a good one’ can still think it’s okay to just give the ‘I just wanted to tell you guys you rock can I have a high five’ line.

Saturday rating:

8/10 – All in all Saturday was a great day for panels, but not if you wanted to be in the IGN theatre – the fact that the Walking Dead was the last panel in there pretty much ruled out seeing anything else in there that day, as people basically camped out. Given the size of the crowds that day Saturday is definitely the best for sitting in panels if you don’t want to be bumped and buffeted around.

Sunday

Sunday is traditionally kids’ day and boy did they come in droves. I don’t mind kids at conventions as a general rule, but something I do hate is pushchairs/strollers being allowed onto the show floor. When the crowds are already so huge it’s hard to move about without finding yourself pressed against a Slave Leia’s bare back or almost decapitated by Loki’s sceptre and so the added trip hazard of tiny people turns into a potential death trap. My answer to this was to simply join line after line, after boring line. First off I joined the line for a ticket for Robert Kirkman’s signing. As there was well over 75 people already in line at 9.45 they gave the tickets out early – no complaints from me, as this enabled me to switch to the back of the line for a Grant Morrison signing ticket, which came with the added bonus of also being the line for Brian K Vaughan signing tickets. After that it was a short hop, skip and a jump to the Oni Press booth to pick up a ticket for Bryan Lee O’Malley’s last signing of the weekend. Here is where I wasn’t so lucky – at first there was an informal line of about 20 people or so. But the booth didn’t have permission to form lines and so gradually people just swarmed around and when someone appeared clutching a paltry 20 (yes, TWENTY) tickets the frenzy was like a scene from a season finale of the Walking Dead – all flailing arms and guttural growling. Despite not being one of the lucky 20 I was happy with the tickets I’d scored that day and pottered off to caffeinate – it being only 10.30 by this point and Grant Morrison’s signing being the first running up until midday. I returned at 11.00 to find the line for Morrison still snaking half way through the show floor. Almost an hour later we were told that Morrison needed to leave for a panel and wouldn’t be able to sign for everyone – this caused a lot of grumbling about why so many tickets had been given out, if there wasn’t enough time to sign for everyone. My gripe though isn’t that he had to leave promptly but that there should be a lower limit on the number of items people are allowed to get signed. It’s a free signing after all, and if the limit were two or maybe even one item, I think that would be fair, if it meant more people could get a signature. In the end Morrison didn’t want to abandon those of us who were at the back of the line and we were allowed one item signed each, which was okay for me, as I was only clutching my ‘Happy’ Issue 1 (and if you haven’t already started reading this go out and buy it now!). Even though he was needed elsewhere Morrison was still very amiable and happy to exchange a few words with everyone in the line – he told me the next issue of Happy is a game changer – which made me laugh as there has only been one issue so far.

Then it was immediately into Brian K Vaughan’s signing line. This was a signing for Saga, which I haven’t read, but which looked great so I picked up a copy before getting in line. I was most interested to chat with the artist Fiona Staples about her experiences as a woman in a male dominated world. Both Brian and Fiona were very friendly and great to chat to and the line for this signing was much more efficient and I breezed through.

Not so much the Robert Kirkman signing. As I said, only 75 tickets were handed out for this, but even so people started lining up 2 hours early for a ticketed event. This caused a lot of confusion for people coming along and just randomly joining the line – thinking they were in luck as they had gotten there so early, only to be told that they had to get out of the line as they didn’t have a ticket. Someone asked me if I could get their book signed for them once they realised they wouldn’t be able to, and this was when I asked about the item limit and was horrified to find out it was 15. I only had two items, so was happy to oblige, but I saw people with bags full of Walking Dead books openly discussing how and when they would be reselling them for a profit. Not good.

I finished up Sunday in my favourite place – Artists Alley and spent a long time just wandering around, looking at the art, chatting to some of my favourite people, including Greg Pak and Ben Templesmith. There really is something quite amazing about seeing an artist draw and paint right in front of you, and being able to chat about their art, techniques, what inspires them etc – it makes the trip to a con like this worth it all on its own.

Sunday rating

7/10 – too many strollers, too much time spent standing in line, too much chaos when the show closes (a couple of hours earlier than on the other days).

Overall I felt NYCC was one of, if not the most enjoyable con of this kind that I’ve been too. Don’t come to NYCC expecting a reproduction of the SDCC model – I love that the focus is still primarily comics, not television and that the artists are given the space that they deserve (by comparison the artists’ alley at SDCC has shrunk and it’s almost impossible for new artists to get a space there). I also love how much Marvel clearly sees NYCC as their most important event and really engage with fans there. The only plus that SDCC has over NYCC, in my opinion, is that in San Diego it’s like the whole town is the con and wherever you go, whatever you do, any time of day and night, you’re still at SDCC. NYCC doesn’t have that, but then, on the other hand, once you step outside the con you’re in NYC – so who could complain?

I will definitely be going back – next time though I’ll be sure to arrive a few days early and get a con hotel that’s no more than a ten minute walk away. At the latest I’d recommend arriving on Wednesday, using Thursday for shopping/getting bearings, Friday for signings and Saturday and Sunday for hiding away from the crowds in panels.

I want to thank her once again for sending this in! We’re always looking for “field reports” from you guys out there. Obviously we can’t make it to every event but we still want to keep everyone informed on what’s going on in the convention world. Plus it’s always nice to have different views since we’re all looking for something different when we attend.

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