For me, the month of October is synonymous for many events. Halloween, the fall season, my birthday (which is on the 20th – SEND PRESENTS), and most of all New York Comic-Con. In recent years, NYCC has become the unofficial end to the convention season (although now it seems that mantle belongs to Comikaze Expo, which I really REALLY hope to attend this year). To give you all a quick history lesson, NYCC was established in 2006 by ReedPOP (the same company that hosts numerous conventions worldwide such as PAX, C2E2, etc.) and organized by Lance Fensterman.
For the past seven years, the con’s home has been the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, and justifiably so. Much like other conventions (i.e. San Diego Comic-Con), NYCC is growing increasingly each year. However, Javits takes this into account and is consistently adding on sections to its already massive complex, while at the same time, ReedPOP and Lance are coming up with smart ways of how to minimize issues. For instance, this year pre-registered badges were not only mailed out, but contained special RFID chips which not only alleviated any waiting on pickup lines, but also deterred any type of counterfeiting of badges. It also made for an easier way to enter and exit the building, as we had to tap badges on a tablet device.
As magical as Dragon Con is, and as painfully enjoyable as San Diego was when I last attended in 2008, there’s something about NYCC that brings the best of both of these together. It could be I’m severely biased, considering the con is in my home turf, but it comes off as a more relaxed version of what I remember SDCC to be. Sure, the crowds are big and sometimes you’re denied access to panels, but it seems as though there’s always something to do… sometimes more often than others. Believe me, there are plenty of scheduling conflicts. Celebrities seem fairly accessible as well, whether you catch them at a panel or in the autograph area.
Speaking of panels, there’s definitely a variety of panels ranging from the “SUPER DUPER CELEBRI-PANEL…(BROUGHT TO YOU BY INSERT BEVERAGE COMPANY HERE)” to more relaxed panels, hosted by lesser known (but still revered on the internet) personalities. For example, Sunday afternoon I attended the “Comix Chix Live” panel, hosted by Kate Kotler (you may have heard of her). The panel itself featured a vast array of geeky goddesses including Bonnie Burton and “Fangasm’s” Molly McIsaac. One of the main things I enjoyed about the panel was that Kate encouraged audience participation and rewarded fans with pretty cool prizes (something I’m only used to seeing at Dragon Con.) Of course, there’s still plenty of Walking Dead-Robot Chicken-Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. star-studded-type panels to attend as well.
One of the other good points of NYCC has to be the massive Exhibitor’s Room. In years past, the room was split up into two parts, New York Comic Con as well as New York Anime Festival (both were run as separate conventions by ReedPOP until a couple of years ago, when Anime Festival was absorbed into NYCC). This year’s room included “The Block,” which encompasses all kinds of pop culture and entertainment, from TV to movies and more. Possibly one of the coolest areas in “The Block” had to be the Walking Dead section, which looked like an abandoned house with a customized, zombie-killing Hyundai in the driveway. The booth also provided you with the ability to become “zombified” by getting your picture taken and altered. Speaking of photos, another awesome booth at the con was EFX Collectables (known for making cool prop replicas), who were also doing photos for ID cards to put into your very own S.H.I.E.L.D. agent badge (for purchase, of course). I can go on forever about booths and goodies… suffice to say, NYCC had some spectacular ones.
Personally, I think the con itself just keeps getting better and better. For the last four of the six NYCCs attended, I have graciously been accepted to cover the event as press (via my [adult swim] central outlet) and have managed to interview some rather high-profile celebrities that I never would have dreamed about having the privilege to chat with. This year felt even more redeeming in the fact that people I’ve chatted with online or at previous conventions actually recognize me (I met GeekNation’s own Clare Kramer on Sunday and got a big hug in return).
Overall, I believe if you live in the Northeast and desire the full experience of a Comic-Con, then New York Comic Con is for you. Sure, there are plenty of other conventions in the state or region, but none that I’ve seen that can effectively encompass a vast array of pop-culture, entertainment, merchandise, and all-around fun like this one. I for one can’t wait til NYCC 2014!
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