Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New York Comic Con Report!

New York Comic Con, held every year at The Jacob Javits Center and ran by ReedPop,  is runwith a skeleton crew of 40 blue shirt volunteers (sounds like a joke from Star Trek) risking life and limb to give us the best four days of comics, movies, tv shows and geek entertainment possible. With crowds of 150,000 on Thursday and reaching upwards of record breaking 250,000 (beating numbers at San Diego Comic Con!) on the highlight day, Saturday, this year’s show was the best yet in relation to organization, guests, panels and quality. However, it had a rocky start, with unprecedented ticket sales that were sold out in under 30 minutes online and at retailers. People were calling in every favor possible to score their passes.

The very first thing I noticed entering this years NYCC, was being able to enter a few hours early with my coveted exhibiters pass, but unlike last year, I couldn’t bring my four day pass BFF with me. The staff was stricter, and insisted she wait in the line 4 blocks back on Thursday. Yes you read right...since when has a Thursday ever had a line outside, let alone 4 blocks long?! Realization hit me then. Gone are the days of low key Thursdays at NYCC. Despite this, the line moved quick and 30 minutes later, she was inside and with me, and we were off, exploring the wonders that awaited us. Home, at last! Despite the increase in ticket holders, the space didn’t feel nearly as claustrophobic as the previous year. Last year I recall feeling trapped and unable to breathe, but somehow even on the busiest day (and I know you all know what I’m talking about-Saturday-you loathsome day! And yet, you are the day when all the best panels are held, and all the best celebrity sightings occur…alas! I loathe and cannot quit you!) I still felt able to move, and the longest lines I witnessed were for panels like The Walking Dead, (The zombie fans arrived at 5am for a 3pm panel! That’s true dedication!), which for the first time required wrist bands for entrance, making sure no overcrowding occurred (it still did, but somehow, it was more organized than before, and if you were turned away, wel,l it was your own fault for not getting a wristband. D’oh!) I did stand in an excessively long line for an autograph on Friday, only to find that on Sunday that same guest had no line, but live and learn! (Stephen Amell, You were so worth the 2 hour wait to talk about traffic patterns in LA vs. New York! And I still disagree, LA is worse) In general, the guests this year seemed to really take their time speaking with each person in line to meet them, and I personally never felt rushed out of any line by anyone, though I heard ranging stories about the security staff from peers of mine. There were some who felt they were strict and unfriendly, but that was just not my experience.

This years staff, the same who run my favorite convention, C2E2, in Chicago, were relatively on point, with only 40 in blue shirts, (those who volunteered their time) a few in grey (managers who are on staff) and a few yellow and black security provided by Javits security team. I rarely felt any staff were nasty or rude to me, and when they were, I felt able to kindly correct them, and was quickly apologized to. It was always a misunderstanding, and I was able to show them my pass and explain to them why I wasn’t moving from where I was, and again, I was allowed access, or passage, or whatever dumb (#awesome) thing I was trying to do. The most “rudeness” I experienced was from those running the Bandai booth, setting up a free signing for Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist, and this was being run by their own team, not by anyone on staff by NYCC. For some reason, line management wasn’t something this particular booth could handle, or even wanted to, and with limited NYCC staff on the show floor, there wasn’t anyone around to help. Honestly, if that’s the worst that happened? I’ll survive. I’m not trying to sound like a damn girl scout, and believe me, I’m a bi***. But, I don’t let small issues like grouchy individuals ruin my convention experience. It’s that simple, and face it, by Saturday, we’re all exhausted, waking up at 5 or 6 to put on cosplays, make up, set up booths, drive if you have to from places as far as Jersey (and I heard some people took the train from Pennsylvania). Conventions are exhausting, so I refuse to let someone who didn’t have enough coffee or sleep to ruin my four days. And again, it happened so rarely this weekend, I barely noticed. I even commended the staff on a job well done and was given a button to say thank u for being a good attendee (an amazing steampunk ferret button!), which only made me feel more welcome by this new staff. I hope ReedPop keeps this new crew on, because I have had two great experiences with them.

Somehow, this year seemed less rushed; panels were spread out, with not every big event happening at the same time. And although I’m not a huge panel attendee, if I wanted to go to Walking Dead (aside potentially having to spend all day in lines waiting for wristbands and then again to get the perfect seat in the main stage) I wouldn’t necessarily miss another “big” show stopper panel in the main stage. Of course, this also depends on what you classify as “big.” I personally felt they miscategorized a few items, (*ahem* Karate Kid*) which should have been in a bigger event space. Also new this year was main stage clearing. No more worrying if you would get a seat for the next big event, because those before you couldn’t just hang out all day in the main hall. However, the smaller event rooms weren’t cleared, and so that remained an ongoing issue still.

...I may have been slightly biased for the Karate Kid.

Best events? George Clooney surprising everyone with Hugh Laurie at the Tomorrowland panel! Star Trek panels and the ability to take a cast photo with 9 TNG members or meet and greet with them individually! For anime fans, three Sailor Moon panels and Dragon Ball Z! One thing I noticed this year was that were more screenings. There was a screening by BBC America of Dr. Who, a new Kill La Kill episode and a preview for The Walking Dead. Also the 20 year Crow panel that has been making the rounds at all the cons always screens some of the movie if not all of it. Walking into the show floor and being greeted by a giant head of Smaug, with mechanical eyes? I swooned. Now…if we could get it to speak….that would have been a thing!  There was an entire room dedicated to The Mary Sue, fangirls and anti-bullying. In a wonderful move this year, Anti-harassment/CINC signs were posted frequently and I was only made aware of a few small incidents. They were handled by staff swiftly and appropriately, including kicking out individuals who were inappropriate. And although they didn’t involve me, I was made aware of them, and still felt safe. There are lots of forms of bullying, and it definitely occurs at these events, but I think they did a fair job of handling the major incidents I was aware of.

Now let’s talk Cosplay! Which let’s face it, as a cosplayer, it’s a big reason I go to events. I was surprised by the amount of cosplay on Thursday, but given the things I’ve already mentioned, like ticket sale increase, it makes sense. Everyone is making the most of the tickets they have. There were some really amazing cosplays! And I got to meet some cosplay heroes of mine, including Jessica Nigri, Batbunny Cosplay and Starbit Cosplay, who all brought their A game to the con. While I missed out on meeting a ton of other masterful cosplayers, too many to list, check out Flickr and Facebook, and you won’t be disappointed. There was the usual overabundance of Deadpools and Harley’s, but to be honest that has never bothered me, because they all looked amazing. Kudos to them for not giving a hoot was anyone says, and for cosplaying a character they love. The best costume I saw was an amazing Groot and Rocket that lit up and stopped traffic on the main floor.  This year was the year of Street Fighter, there were tons of Ryu’s and Kens fighting all over the con (I myself was a female Ryu) As expected a dozen Elsa’s all done beautifully....surprisingly very few Master Chief’s (is his time up?). I felt the level of cosplay was really high this year, with families bringing their children all four days in full family cosplays like baby Starlords with mama Rockets and daddy Groots, and baby Iron Mans, baby Spidey’s and yes, a family of mini Cobra Kai's vs. Daniel’s (the highlight of that panel for me! this is parenting done so epic!) What I experienced was support for everyone, no matter what the level of cosplay was. That is 100% what cosplay is and what I LOVE to see at NYCC.

This year, for me, was not spent waiting around or pushing through angry mob crowds. (Although there were some - Was anyone there for the Daredevil panel bracelet line that initially was cancelled due to excessive aggression?!) I spent it truly enjoying the crowds, the smaller panels, the show room full of happy vendors. (some of my faves: The Colorful Geek, Jordandene, and TC Toys.) They genuinely seemed pleasant and not overwhelmed by crowds who could barely move let alone shop (I heard some vendors say they made their target sales goal on Thursday!!) and meeting the few celebs I set aside the cash for.  I did hear a few complaints that security was strict and uncool (one complaint was that they were pushy about line management and fire codes regarding how many bodies could be in a room)  I heard some ridiculous ones about being in a crowd of people and no one stopping to say excuse me, well, with 250,000 people in a venue, that shit happens, move on. You can't let small things like that color the whole weekend's experience. Overall, this show was a huge success and is only getting better.

So what does it need for next year? More staff for better control of lines on the show floor. Bigger rooms for panels and longer show floor hours. With the con growing and more people coming, it needs to expand.

And of course, last but not least, are the NYCC parties. If you’re not invited to at least one, you might've been hiding under a rock. You don’t have to go to a NYCC sponsored event to have a great time, you can make the party! Whether you attended the costume event at Bowlmore Lanes, or the Game of Thrones event at Twins Pub, or a Vampire Freaks rave, you’re bound to find the perfect after-party event. With the newly minted Super Week, a week full of NYCC sponsored events, including concerts, sneak peeks and panels hosted by William Shatner, NYCC will never be the same. We will never be the San Diego, a city that shuts down and becomes a convention. But we are New York, and we're damn proud of it.

Kit Cosplay is a proud cosplayer since early childhood. She's a full time art therapist, full time cosplayer, an artist, designer, fangirl, geek and different from all the other pretty pennies out there.

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