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Big Experiences in The Big Apple – My thoughts on my first New York Comic Con

The Convention Collective‘s US Senior Editor Dan Berry took his first foray into the behemoth that is ReedPOP‘s signature event, New York Comic Con, when it took over the Big Apple’s Javits Convention Center last month – here, he shares his thoughts on this massive show as it continues to find its way in a post-lockdown world…

So, for the first time – believe it or not – I actually attended New York Comic Con! I know, right? I went to the convention with no real expectations of what the show would be like and, after all was said and done, I actually had a great time and have already booked my hotel for 2023 – I can cancel it up to a few days before the show, should I get cold feet. Can’t think why, though, after my experience this time round…

The NYCC show floor felt like it was the size of SDCC with a few big booths dominating the gargantuan Javits exhibition floor space, including Marvel, Bandai Namco, Whatnot, Funko, IDW, and One Piece being the standouts in terms of scale and eye-catching displays. 

With comics being my primary interest, most of my time was spent running around Artist Alley and, in the past. my favorite version of that kind of space has been ECCC, purely in terms of the range and prestige of creators present. But after having attended my first New York Comic Con, I have to say that the crown now goes to them. ReedPOP knows how to curate and set up an Artist Alley, for sure… with one caveat. 

Superstar artist Peach Momoko – whose popularity started to rise right before the pandemic – made her first US appearance since that difficult time – and New York Comic Con simply wasn’t ready for her. Before the show, Peach announced that she’d be signing ten items for free, along with doing $20 remarques, and her line was capped within minutes of the show opening for the day every single day. There was even a report of a fight breaking out in her line on Sunday which caused Peach to leave the show for a few hours. I don’t blame her for that, something like that kicking off would give anybody the nerves. 

That being said, the rest of Artist Alley was an absolute treat – a plethora of delights from all eras of comic art and writing. Some of my personal highlights include talking to, and getting autographs and sketches from, some great creators including the above-mentioned Peach, Adam Kubert, Jamal Igle, power couple Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, Anna Zhuo, Dan Jurgens, Klaus Janson, Declan Shalvey, Adi Granov, Humberto Ramos, Simon Bisley, Todd McFarlane, Liana Kangas (I managed to get sketches from the last three on this list), and a whole lot more who I’m sure I’m forgetting. An amazing time.

There has to be grumbles, obviously. In terms of crowds, the Main Floor was easily manageable but, at times, the Artist Alley crowds made it very tough to maneuver, especially when the escalators leading from the Artist Alley floor to the Lobby were functioning as stairs.

And then there’s the world and times we’re living in today. Before the convention began, organizers ReedPOP had said that wearing a mask was mandatory inside the convention and the security at the doors from the outside through to the lobby area made sure to enforce that. However, beyond that area, it became a free-for-all and, by Sunday, I’d estimate that only maybe 5-10% of the crowd on the Main Floor were masked up. I did hear from some Artist Alley vendors that they had been told that if they didn’t mask up, they would be kicked out of the show – harsh, perhaps, but them’s the rules, it just seemed difficult to put that on them when the crowds had no such intention or motivation to do so as well. ReedPOP did have volunteers walking around with boxes of masks to give the maskless, but that didn’t seem to have much impact in terms of the crowds wearing them. A no-win situation.

Away from the comics, I have to say that Funko’s booth setup was great… from the outside, that is. If you were lucky enough to get an opportunity to buy stuff from that booth, you were crowded into the space which was wall-to-wall crowd and very uncomfortable. Most people had to wait three-plus hours after their time window to purchase stuff and had to wait in a very crowded booth. Hopefully, the powers that be will make the booth and the sister offsite event one feature that could fix the problems that, in my opinion, splitting them down caused.

In terms of offsites, I attended the Funko Fright Night, THE SANDMAN Dream Portal by Audible and DC, The Hive After Dark Party, and the John Ridley / Nō Studios New York Comic Con Party. 

After having attended Funko’s Fundays during SDCC, I expected this event to be run similarly – spoiler alert: it wasn’t! For starters, the event didn’t have chairs at all which, after a ten-hour day on the con floor, was a huge disappointment. Hell, even the food ran out before I could get some which was also disappointing. On the plus side, they did go all out with the entertainment, including a mini-concert by NYC’s own D.M.C. of the iconic rap group Run-D.M.C. – obviously!

The Hive After Dark party was a lot of fun, with a DJ playing a lot of ’90s songs in a ballroom setup with a them that was inspired by the Showtime original series, Yellowjackets, an open bar and light snacks. I only spent a little time there, as I was invited to a smaller get-together at a Tiki Bar with some creators and other non-creative pros – ahh, the life of a seasoned comics fan and convention attendee! And, of course, I had to buy a tiki mug there to take back home. 

The John Ridley event was a very intimate event with John walking around and talking about his titles, including one that was set to be released by DC Comics a few days after NYCC ended. During the event, DC’s own Jim Lee showed up to show his support for John, and he also walked around and would talk with people. The great and the good mingling with us mere mortals, ammiright?

All in all, I – for the most part – enjoyed my time at New York Comic Con and all the good food I ate at before and after after the show! I’ve finally dived into some authentic NY $1 Cheese Pizza Slices from the iconic 2 Bros Pizza, that stuff was terrific. So were the garlic knots, nicely priced with two slices and four knots for $3 from a place that had no menu, no receipts, and a constant line out the door – the place was on the same block as my hotel, so I walked past it every night. 

Dan Berry
Dan Berry
Dan Berry is a man of mystery, an enigma that flits from convention to convention like a spectre, like a spirit. His interests range far and wide: he cannot be determined, he cannot be defined, he cannot be contained. He's like the wind. He also is a Sagittarius and enjoys a nice Italian.

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