Event: New York Comic-Con 2014 Report
New York Comic-Con 2014
Tweets from panels:
Walking into New York Comic-Con early in the morning, you feel a slight build up of energy. There aren't a ton of people there yet, but there's an excitement in the air. As the morning rolls along and more attendees join the event that energy level swells and doesn't stop surging until around the 7PM closing time. To anyone who counts themselves among the group that includes Geeks, Nerds, Gamers, Trekkies (Trekkers), Whovians, Browncoats or Deaders, you will appreciate this energy as it fuels your excitement for the entire weekend. There's something incredible about being surrounded by folks who aren't just into one segment of pop culture, but in a way every person at the convention represents their own little nexus of pop culture where several shows, music and movies can intersect. Put thousands of those types of people together and you get some spectacular enthusiasm that is both fun and infectious. Being one of those people, I practically lived off of the energy since this was my first year as a "Press" member instead of just being a regular attendee. That meant I walked a lot and tried to take more pictures that I ever had before. While I've done live Tweets from Botcon before, this was the first time I attempted it at NYCC, and I think it made for an exciting reporting opportunity.
The Show Floor
This year, there was definitely a sense of being reserved in terms of the show floor. There were less spectacular displays (such as the "Aliens: Colonial Marines" Power Loader rig from a couple years ago) but there were 151,000 attendees! That means NYCC has officially sold more tickets than SDCC, which up until this point had been considered the largest of the Comic-Cons. You could tell too. The crowds were much larger this past weekend, even on Thursday which was traditionally the "quiet" day. It's fair to say this show has grown in prominence and I'm glad to see that as I remember the show when it was a small convention that didn't take up the entire Javitz Center.
A lot of the "big companies" were represented including Marvel, DC, Midtown Comics, Diamond, Bandai and publishers like Simon & Schuster. However there are plenty of smaller shops that showed up as well including local favorite St. Mark's Comics, Toy Tokyo, Image Anime and lots of folks making their own hand crafted goods. There was even a station that would 3D print something for you to order! Among the items I focused on were picking up graphic novels at Midtown Comics (who traditionally offer 20% off each book at the convention) and picking up some toys I didn't even know existed (such as a Matchbox Knight Rider KITT in Super Pursuit Mode). In terms of being a pop culture nerd, there truly was something for everyone at this show.
I'm also going to give a huge kudos to the Javitz Center for upping their game in terms of the food offerings at the convention. Once upon a time, the selection was limited to fare like hot dogs and pretzels. While those are still everywhere, there are also great options like barbecue, Chinese food, Pinkberry froyo and even salad bowls! I also thought it was a great idea to have so many of the food areas spread out, giving some breathing space to what can be a very congested cafeteria area on the lower levels.
Protip Before the show, download a map of the show floor, highlight the vendors you want to visit and that way you can just head directly there instead of wandering aimlessly. This is especially helpful in the case of some vendors who sell exclusives that you have to pick up a ticket for first thing in the morning. You don't want to be wandering about aimlessly while others grab them all!
This was the first New York Comic-Con where I made it a point to attend several panels. Two of these were "Transformers" related, so of course I had to cover them (see Twitter feeds above for reports from those panels). The first was focused on the upcoming "Robots in Disguise" cast and crew. It's clear these folks had an amazing affection for each other, and Constance Zimmer (the voice of Strongarm) was very sweet about taking a photo with me even though we were all being booted out of the panel room. Also kudos to Will Friedle (Bumblebee) who stopped to take a picture with my friend Steve and his family. The second panel focused on the IDW Publishing comic books (not just Transformers, but all their Hasbro related properties) and it was exciting to get a preview of what was coming up in the next year. "Combiner Wars" has me intrigued to say the least!
This year NYCC changed the way panels were seated. In the past, you would enter one of the giant "main stage" rooms (there are two) and basically just squat there the entire day since the rooms were not cleared after each panel. This meant if you did not arrive at the crack of dawn, the odds of you getting into a panel that was popular (as "Game of Thrones" was last year) would be quite low. This year they shook the formula up. The rooms were cleared after every panel. In the morning, you would have to get on a line to get a wristband that was color coded and had the panel name printed on it. If you got a wristband, you got a seat. You just had to show up roughly 30-60 minutes ahead of the panel to get in line for the better seats. This system was a very welcome change and I really applaud NYCC for changing it to this system.
The first "non Transformers" panel I attended was the "Elementary" panel. For those not in the know, this show features Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as a modern day interpretation of Sherlock Holmes and Watson in New York City. The premise sounds wacky, but it's actually a fantastic show and is currently in its third season. You can see my Tweets from it linked above, but I was very pleasantly surprised that they showed us the entire first episode of the new season and still did a Q&A session! Miller and Liu themselves were in attendance and there was a very charming cameraderie between the cast and crew that was on stage. This season brings a new character into the mix, and the episode left me wanting to know more about her and how she fits into this relationship dynamic. It also had a really fun mystery for our heroes to solve!
I also attended two Marvel panels. The first was the "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." panel. No electronic devices were allowed, so I could not Tweet from that panel, but the show they put on for us made up for it. Marvel's head of teleevision Jeff Loeb acted as emcee and moderator of sorts for the Marvel panels. He cam eon stage and talked about how grateful he was for AoS becoming a successfull show and how small the panel was last year compared to this year. His enthusiasm was infectious, and then he revealed a Hydra T-shirt underneath his jacket and was met with mock jeers and boos. When Clark Gregg (aka Agent Coulson) walked on stage to "chastise" him, Jeff promised to make it up to him by showing us an episode of the show that had not aired yet! Even better? Afterward they showed us a clip from the upcoming "Agent Carter" show which had literally just been filmed four days prior! The clip featured Agent Cartner, Jarvis and Howard Stark and cut to a quick fight between Carter and a bad guy. The crowd was really into it. During the AoS episode there were laughs, cheers, jeers and even some "Awww" moments. Gregg also thanked everyone for the "Coulson Lives" campaign and seemed very genuine in his appreciation for the fan support. It was wonderful to be in a room with so many like minded folks expressing our enthusiasm for a show.
The second Marvel panel was for "Daredevil". This show is still in the works but is set to be a Netflix exclusive. It is the first in a series of five shows being produced for Netflix. Again, Loeb acted as the host of the panel and they brought out most of the main actors for the show including: . I liked the style of the panel as questions were put out to individual actors and they answered them succinctly. There was some back and forth and laughs of course, but it was very structured, informative and entertaining. We were shown footage from the show as well (another reason no cameras or electronic devices were allowed) and it looked really dark and gritty, as a "Daredevil" show should. It appeared Daredevil was wearing his early costume as chronicled by Frank Miller. No telling if Daredevil will switch to a more traditional yellow or red suit in the series.
The final panel I was able to attend was for "Gotham". Set in the era when Bruce Wayne just lost his parents, it focuses on Jim Gordon being a good cop in a rotten city and the change in power dynamics from the era of mobsters and crime bosses to super villains. The concept had me worried when I frst read about it, but truth be told I've since grown to be a huge fan. The show is well acted, has a great look and it's filmed in my hometown of New York City (meaning I recognize a lot of the locations). This panel also brought out most of the main cast including: . The cast and crew were rather secretive about the show's future storylines (and rightfully so), but they did firmly establish that this is not a "pre-Nolan-verse". This is a new and separate Batman continuity from all others, though it may be influenced by others aesthetically and by some storylines. Taylor in particular got roaring cheers a lot and is quickly growing to be a fan favorite on the show for his portrayal of Oswald Cobblepot, the future Penguin. You can see my live Tweets from the panel in the link above (some of which were retweeted by the official New York Comic-Con Twitter feed itself!).
Protip: Download the NYCC app onto your smartphone so you can plan your activities way ahead of time and receive regular updates. This will help you plan around panels. Also get there early to get your panel wristbands. Reports I got indicated people were on line for the "Walking Dead" panel at 7AM, you have been warned.
I admit, this is one of the main reasons I attend Comic-Con every year. The sheer amount of creativity, enthusiasm and talent on display was amazing. Yes you had the pros like the amazing Yaya Han (who was wearing an Assasin's Creed costume the day I met her) to the super cute couple who dressed up as Tetris blocks that could fit together. There were of course Deadpools and Harley Quinns everywhere but you also had Persephone from "The Matrix" walking around and Spider-Man 2099! As I've been looking at coplay galleries from other web sites, it's amazing how many cosplays I didn't see as hundreds of thousands of fans moved about the convention floor. What I als ofound fun was a bit of a cosplay party that would occur as the convention closed every night. Around 7PM, the convention staff begins to migrate everyone to the area near the exists. The result is a convergance of the cosplayers on one level and that's when photos begin to get snapped at a rapid pace everywhere. If you miss out on cosplay most of the day (and yes, that is possible if you're say, sitting in panels all day), then this is a great way to "catch up" on seeing some amazing works of art.
Perhaps my absolute favorite cosplay was one I literally saw as I was leaving the convention on Sunday afternoon: Transformers Age of Extinction Grimlock! Worn by a kid (who enthusiastically told us his father made the costume), the costume was designed so the kid could hunch over in "dinosaur mode", then when he stood up (and pushed the dinosaur head back) he was in "robot mode"! Even better? As he "transformed" a sound box made the traditional transformation sound from the original television series! It was the perfect cosplay note to end my NYCC on.
Protip: I do not recommend walking around the entire day in your costume as you're going to wear out eventually. Bring a change of clothes and bags and take advantage of the bag checks (only $3 this year). Also use the bathrooms on the outer perimeter of the show floor as they tend to be a bit less crazy.
One of the most important features of Comic-Con is Artist Alley. This large area is a mini-convention within the convention where artists set up tables to sell prints and books featuring their artwork. These artists aren't just comic-book artists, some are those who specialize in Fantasy Art (such as Frazetta) to artists who draw parodies of other art. There is an amazing array of art styles represented here. You have traditional comic books such as Dick Tracy, "modern" comics such as those drawn by Dustin Nguyen and Adam Hughes and Anime style art (seen at several tables). "Transformers" fans in particular had plenty of art to look at thanks to the presence of artists Livio Ramondelli, Dan Khanna and Sarah Stone!
In general, I find that if you want an artist to do a custom drawing for you, make sure they're doing that at the convention first. Sometimes they are only there for a day or two so they may not be able to do it. If they are, I recommend you get there early and book the time before they get too many other requests. One year I myself was "closed out" from getting a custom drawn picture because I had waited until Saturday night for one particular artist.
Pro Tip: Be cognizant of others waiting on line for each artist. Each artist has limited space for people to gather around their tables and you don't want to possibly cause someone that could have been a customer to wander off because they saw many people standing around and just talking. Politely move to the side if you see a potential customer approach so they can check out what the artist has to offer.
I only managed to get three autographs the entire session. One was with Karl Urban (Star Trek, Dredd, Almost Human) who was super cool. I was actually getting his autograph for a friend who wasn't feeling well and he gave me a fist bump and told me "You're a good friend.". Awesomesauce! The other was with cosplayer extraordinaire Yaya Han, who was super sweet. I had hoped to get others, but there were simply only so many hours in the day and some of the autograph lines such as Stephen Amell's (Arrow) had over 100 people on it by the time I saw it. My last autograph was from author Jack Campbell who writes two series I follow "The Lost Fleet" and "The Lost Stars" which are really fun scifi books. It was a thrill to meet him and I totally geeked out talking about potential future books!
New York Comic-Con 2014 was an absolute blast, and I made it a point to try to have a different experience this year than previous years. I really look forward to seeing what's in store next year!