Traveler, writer, reviewer, all-round observer. I like anything cool & fast, but occasionally sit at a cafe watching the world go by.
comicscrux.com’s ‘one man’s humungous con experience’ -2013 NY Comic Con
What do you get when you gather together a plethora of comic books, cosplay, computer games, cartoons, pop culture TV shows and movies, all under one humongous roof in NYC? One of the largest weekend events in the country called NY Comic Con, of course! On it’s own website, it boasts as being “the biggest and most exciting pop culture convention on the East Coast.” Days before the event, it was projecting to be the largest Comic Con yet. As the countdown for the doors to open wound down, tickets to all 4 days sold out.
To put this into perspective, the first NYCC in 2007 had 15,000 people attend this inaugural yearly event. Fast forward 5 years, 2012 had over 110,000 attendees. As the final numbers came in on Monday Oct. 13, it reportedly had over 130,000 -this is about the same size as San Diego’s, which had to cap it’s attendance due to size limitations.
In the spirit and fun of it all, I donned my white shirt, black tie, black suit, dark shades, and carried a ray gun to shoot aliens in one hand and an audio recorder for interviews on the other hand -Agent A, M.I.B. division of Comics Crux at your service.
As I walked through the doors of the soon to be Capitol of Fantasy and Fiction in the glass & steel mega-structure of the Jacob J Javits Convention Center, it felt like walking into a secret world reserved only for a special breed with a common interest -an interest that is now worldly accepted in the Pop Culture arena. Going up and down the countless of aisles and rows was like watching a tennis match, my head going left and right and left again, and my camera endlessly snapping away. The amount of things going on at once was incredible.
-To see all the photos I took that day, you can view them here: https://www.facebook.com/aki.solomos/media_set?set=a.1452518158307170.1073741828.100006470008670&type=3 or here: http://www.pinterest.com/akisolomos/ny-comic-con-2013/
I stopped a few cosplayers ranging from the realistic, cute, creative, and even sexy to get their perspective and reaction of this year’s NYCC. The first person I came across was Ashley. Dressed as Sailor Moon, she proclaimed “I’ve been coming here every year! Before NYCC, there was the New York Anime Festival when I started about 8 years ago. I’ve dressed as a lot of different characters from games such as Street Fighter and anime like Pokemon.” Being the first day, I asked her, “Are you looking forward to this weekend?” “I am! It’s like Halloween before Halloween. Being October makes it perfect! I think it’s supposed to be the largest. It becomes more commercialized as the years go on. Before it was concentrated with anime and manga, but now with Marvel, and the movies that’s come out -the film industry has a big hand in it this year. I do have mixed emotions over it though -the bigger the better, I guess.”
One cosplayer that really caught my eye was a weekend favorite -Inspector Gadget wearing his signature trench coat and a helicopter hat! “How’d you come up with this costume?” “I basically started with a fan I had at home. I took it apart, bought some PVC pipe, and with some tools put it together after watching the movie a couple of times.” “What inspired you?” “Matthew Broderick -I liked the way he pulled it off rather than the cartoon version.” “How long did it take you to put it together?” “A month, and it cost me about $50-60.”
The next two cosplayers were debuting their own comic book, The Chronicles of Leia Down, a super villain with the power to morph into over 250 characters, and Bedside Stories of Kiki Dare (I’ll leave the storyline to your imagination). Having started as rated X, Leia Down rewrote it as rated R for the younger adults. “And how long have you been coming to Comic Con?” “I’ve been to a lot of them! San Diego, Phoenix, and many others. But this is my first in NY.” “Which is your favorite costume?” “The very first one was Robin Girl. That has a special place close to me. I loved being her.” For Kiki Dare, this was also her first NYCC. “I’ve actually been going to San Diego’s a lot.” When I asked them to compare the two, “There’s not as much congestion here like in San Diego. You can walk a lot more freely here, and not as many lines like waiting for 6 hours just to see a 4-minute presentation. There is some commercialism here” she added while looking across at the Walking Dead area, “but it still feels more ‘homey’.”
As I turned the corner, what seemed like something out of a dream, a colorful fabled fairy appeared before me with butterfly wings, a black mask, pink hair, and a tutu -I nearly expected some pixie-dust to be thrown at me. Representing the AP Bikini Team, Allie explained that she’s one of the spokes models trying to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Foundation. “This is our first year doing Comic Con, and figured why not have a little fun while helping our brothers in arms.” “How many of you are there?” “There are girls from Maine to Florida, about 100 I think at this point. And we do everything we can to raise awareness for the people that fought for us. We’ve been doing different car shows, as well as several other types of events at outlets, armories, and pretty much anywhere the vets are, that’s where we’ll be.”
Moving along, someone called out toward me, “Hey, I just saw your partner a few minutes ago!” I was a little perplexed, but moments later, lo and behold, I bumped into another M.I.B. agent! He was holding the huge and massive 3-barrel alien gun from the first movie. There we were, facing each other, and at this point I knew exactly what we had to do -get a few pictures at M.A.R.S. Photography! They combine studio photography with digital imaging and graphics -a new concept in photo-tech that’s catching on quickly this year. You can read my story about M.A.R.S. here at http://comicscrux.com/mars-photography-brings-cosplay-to-a-new-level/
After our photo-shoot, I got to chat with Agent J, “This is my first NYCC.” “Really? So is mine!” I admitted. When I asked him about his alien gun, he grinned and picked it up proudly. “This tri-barrel blaster took me about 3 days in all to make it. It’s MDF Wood (medium density fiberboard), PVC pipes, a couple of other materials, and a kid’s pool table stick. It weighs 22 and a 1/2 pounds total.” I then questioned what inspired him to do Men in Black. “Well, I’ve been doing this kind of thing for about 16 years and trying to come up with some new ideas for karaoke, entertainment, and other events. I DJ, dance, and sing some of the Will Smith songs, and Pit Bull and such from the M.I.B. movies.” When I asked him for his thoughts about NYCC so far, he gave a big smile. “It’s fantastic! A lot of cosplay, merchants, and vendors, it’s basically awesome! I’ll do it again next year.” “I heard it sold out very fast.” “I got real lucky this year when I bought today’s ticket just a couple of months ago. It sold out really fast!”
Now, it wasn’t just the cosplayers I spoke to. What good is it going to a Comic Con and just noticing the cosplayers? The amount of vendors and merchants was amazing! According to the website’s map, the tables and areas on the Main floor run in an orderly fashion from number 101 to 3165 (a separate area called the Pavilion had another 210 tables) -to read more about the very first place I stopped at, you can find it here at http://comicscrux.com/tuesday-toy-box-tenacious-toys-spotlight-interview/
One such vendor some of you may already know is comiXology. The short version to describe it: just like Amazon.com but fully dedicated to comic books and graphic novels that are downloadable to almost any device. I spoke to one of the sales-reps who explained it this way, “We are a digital comic book retailer who works with over 70 publishers. We have over 40,000 comics on our app available on IOS, Android, as well as on the web.”
Free to register; over 50 comic books to try for free; subscription options; bundles with discounts; and sales going on all the time, for the comic aficionado or enthusiast, you can’t go wrong! One new feature they have is called Guided View -this allows you to read the comic page-by-page, or panel-by-panel as you scroll through. Having started in 2007, one of the things they’ve noticed, as digital comics are made more available, print sales has actually gone up. “I’ve noticed a lot of users that would pick up a single issue digitally, but then when it comes out in trade, they would go out to buy the print for their bookshelves.”
Another vendor that would be of real interest to any comic aficionado or enthusiast is Comiclife.com by plasq (an array of developers, and tech experts from around the world that work together to create software). In a nut-shell, Comic Life supplies tons of panel formats and allows you to insert any picture (graphic or photo), and bubble-words, to create your own storyline and make a comic book. This fun feature is great for the family to enjoy, a creative gift for someone, as well as a useful tool for professionals.
Another eye-catching pop-culture merchant I ran into was StylinOnline. One of the several areas of theirs I stopped in at had belts, collars, and wallets with different well-known superheroes and characters of all types from comic books, TV shows, and movies. I spoke to Ken, brother of the owner (James) who started this business in New York with just some Superman and Batman t-shirts and grew it to become one of the, if not THE largest online pop culture superstore.
“We also have t-shirts, hoodies, bathrobes, and other apparels, as well as mugs, and several paraphernalia and accessories. My brother started it about 20 years ago. We’ve been traveling around all the Comic Cons for about 12 years now.” “How did your brother get started?” “Haha, that is a funny story. He actually began in the late 80’s with surf-style, iridescent windbreakers, then the jumpsuits. He then moved on to graphic t-shirts, and kept on going with it. Now we have towels and rugs!”
He pointed toward a rug in the image of the TARDIS from Dr. Who, and another with Star Trek’s U.S.S. Enterprise. “How’s it going so far on the first day?” “First day, we’re doing very well! I haven’t seen this many people on a first day of a Comic Con in a long time. We’re expecting a lot more people as the weekend progresses.” “Having also been to others, how would you compare it?” “I see more people here than even San Diego’s.” “I heard we’re expecting this to be the largest to date.” “I think it’s going to be very close!”
One foreign company that’s made its debut in the U.S. at the NYCC is called Fangs. I spoke to spokes models El and Kai about this vampire-must have accessory. “We make custom fangs. We customize them for you which takes about 30 minutes and it’ll last for years. You just pop them in, and pop them out.” “And how long has Fangs been around?” “Father Sebastiaan has been around for 18 years in France, and we’ve expanded to New York in October.” “So this is your debut at the NYCC.” “Yes, we’ve even bought an ambulance about 3 weeks ago, driving around New York, making fangs, and promoting our product. We’ll be making a web-series on our site, and we also have an event on Halloween day at Club Octagon on 39th Street.”
There were so much more to see and do, but the day was winding down and a general announcement came that the doors would be closing soon. I would like to emphasize that this event had something for everyone. It’s a paradise for any collector, as well as for those watching their wallets with lots of free things given out everywhere. Whether you’re with your family or going solo, there’s no doubt in the enjoyment and fun you will experience.
Besides all that I mentioned above, there was also the famed cosplayer Vampy dressed as the Princess from the classic cartoon G-Force, as well as several other cosplayers dressed as male and female warriors, men dressed as female warriors (including a male Wonder Woman), Superheroes of all types, villains and monsters, steampunk characters, cartoon characters and anime, Star Wars Storm Troopers, knights in armor, V for Vandetta, and even Waldo.
Some of the other vendors, merchants, TV shows and movies, and companies that were there included Marvel, a Walking Dead area, the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. car Lola, video game areas of all kinds, lots of comic book start-ups and icons, debuts such as PBS’ Superheroes! (you can read about this here at http://comicscrux.com/creators-pbss-superheroes-neverending-battle-talk-importance-superheroes/ ), a large area just for Intel to introduce its new I7 chip with games and competition areas, panels with icons of the industry and special guests from TV shows and movies, and even New York’s Hayden Planetarium was there with a micro-dome giving a 4-minute teaser of its new Digital Universe.
I will be writing up my interviews with some of the comic book creators, and icons separately from this article -such as: Will Robson of Unit 5; Nicolas Dedual of Torchbearer; and none other than Brian Haberlin who created last year’s ground breaking Anomaly and this month’s debut of Shifter, both using augmented 3D technology through any downloadable device.
I would like to give special thanks to the M.A.R.S. Photography crew for inviting me to NYCC as well as allowing me to follow up with them from my first write-up and interview with them (stay tuned for my new article about this amazing crew on their second NYCC since they started).
If you’d like to see all my pictures from this event, you can find them on my Pinterest, twitter, and Facebook album…