Event: New York Comic-Con 2015


New York Comic-Con 2015

When I started attending New York Comic-Con it wsa a much smaller affair than it is nowadays. Back then Thursday was the day you could go in and wander around without hundreds of people in front of you. I once went through an entire aisle in the showroom with my arms out and I didn't have to stop, true story! However with last year's record attendance of the event the game has changed. While I'm certain Thursday won't be the busiest day of the convention, it was certainly a lot more busy than I had ever seen on the first day! As I'm typing this I'm heading in for Saturday and I'm almost nervous about what the crowds will be like.

You can go to Comic-Con for many reasons. You may have a specific actor you want to meet, maybe you're shopping for a toy, perhaps you're a cosplayer or all of the above and more. For me, most of my fun at Comic-Con comes from attending panels and visiting vendors and that's what I wound up doing on Thursday.


I attended three key panels on Thursday, which doesn't sound like a lot until you consider that each panel is roughly an hour long (and you have to stand on line for about a half hour to an hour beforehand to get a good seat). That sounds worse than it is. Between looking over photos, uploading, writing and occasionally trying to get some food in my system the time flies by and it's over before you know it.

"12 Monkeys"
For those unfamiliar, "12 Monkeys" was a film from the 90's (based on a short French film "La Jetée") that focused on a future where a plague has wiped out most of humanity and civilization as we know it. A group of scientists send back a prisoner to the present day to try to stop the virus before it ever begins the apocalypse. It's a really good film and a personal favorite. This past year when SyFy launched a "12 Monkeys" series I was nervous that it would not do justice to the original source films. All that concern was gone by the end of the first episode. The "12 Monkeys" series uses the film as inspiration but has gone off in its own direction that kept me engaged every episode. The season finale left me wanting more and that's exactly what you want from a show. The panel featured most of the primary cast and footage from season two was shown. You can see my live Tweets from the panel here. Overall I really enjoyed seeing how the cast interacts. They really have a great sense of humor and you can tell they enjoy riffing off of each other. The season 2 footage shown was really compelling even though we the audience had no clue what was going on. All we know is the characters will be time jumping and they will have evolved from the first season.

"The Expanse"
"The Expanse" is a new SyFy show based on a series of novels under the same name. I've never read these books so I went in with "fresh eyes". I was partly excited because this show is part of SyFy's initiative to get away from "reality based" programming and get back to their roots: science fiction. This series is a bit more "hard scifi" than their past endeavors and that got me excited too. We were shown the pilot episode of the series and let me tell you, I was raving about the series on Twitter before I even left the panel room. "The Expanse" features a compelling story about the political machinations in a Solar System that has been colonized by mankind 200 years in the future. The show begins with a conspiracy around a destroyed cargo ship and possibly a plot to instigate a war. The first episode leaves you dying to see the next and that is one of the best compliments you can give a show. Some key cast members and two producers were on hand to talk about the show and they all have really given a lot of deep thought to their roles and how to adapt the books. In another ringing endorsement for the show, there were about a dozen folks in the audience who were huge fans of the books and they were very enthusiastic for the series! If that's not a vote of confidence, I don't know what is.

"Transformers Generations"
Hasbro assembled a group of producers, writers, designers from Machinima and their own team to talk about the upcoming direction for both the toy line and the entertainment behind it. Unlike "Rescue Bots" and "Robots in Disguise" which skew towards a younger audience, "Generations" focuses on older fans starting around the time they "age out" of "Robots in Disguise" all the way to fans who grew up with the original series such as myself. 2016 will continue the current "Combiner Wars" series until the Spring. Then the "Generations" imprint gets a new tagline of "Titans Return", a series which focuses on interactivity between all toys with the common foundation being the "Titan Master" gimmick, where a small robot becomes the head of a larger robot. Older fans will know these as "Headmasters". True to the "Generations" spirit, many of the figures are new interpretations of characters from the original series including Fortress Maximus, Hardhead and Skullcruncher (now named Skullsmasher for trademark reasons). Machinima is being brought in to produce an online animated series telling the story of the "Combiner Wars" leading up to "Titans Return". These two chapters are part of a larger storyline called the "Prime Trilogy". What's the third part? That has yet to be revealed! The panel gave fans a look at upcoming toys as well (most of which had been revealed at the previous night's Hasbro event).

IAmElemental was started by two moms who saw a distinct lack of female-centric action figures in toy stores and decided to do something about it. Backed by a successful Kickstarter they launched their line of action figures. Each one features a female hero representing an aspect of a person such as Honesty and Bravery. Coming together all these features form a strong whole, just as they do in a person. It's an extremely positive message and I dug the design of the figures. They do integrate pink into their color scheme but these aren't Disney Princess figures. They all have cool looking armor that seems inspired by historical armor you'd see in a museum. There was an exclusive version of Honesty at the show with a gold deco. Even cooler they had a version of Bravery for sale with proceeds going towards breast cancer research. I picked that one up. As a fan of action figures, this is something I'd like to see more of.

For Beginners
From their web site, this is a description of "For Beginners": "Every book in the series serves one purpose: to present the works of great thinkers and subjects alike in a straightforward, accessible manner. With subjects ranging from philosophy to politics, art, and beyond, the For Beginners series covers a range of topics in a humorous comic book-style.". When I saw this display I saw topics like "Postmodernism" and "Ayn Rand". Quite a range! I picked up a couple more focused on art ("Dada and Surrealism" for one) as they are subjects I've seen in museums and liked. The style of these books is really cool. With a good mix of text and illustrations they explain a topic that could be very dry in an entertaining way.

Dynamite Comics: Grumpy Cat Photo Op
For those who don't know, I am a devout fan of Grumpy Cat. Tardar Sauce (her real name) has captured the affection of a legion of fans online and this has (in part) led to Dynamite Publishing putting out a Grumpy Cat comic book series. The book is a spiritual descendant of books like "Garfield" and "Get Fuzzy", though largely removing the human element. Instead the comic focuses on Grumpy and her brother Pokey (he does exist in real life) and their (mis)adventures. It's a very cute book and the art style is fantastic, looking very animated. Grumpy herself was at the Dynamite booth for an hour and a half on Thursday afternoon and it was, to say the least, a mob scene. The sheer enthusiasm and wonder people who is very gratifying. For the briefest moment in time, all these kids and adults across a spectrum of backgrounds have one thing in common: the love of an adorable cat - and that's a very special thing to behold. I myself didn't get on line to take a photo with her but I took a photo walking by as she calmly chilled out in her cat bed probably wondering what all the fuss was about!

Zapp Comics
It seems counter-intuitive, but over the years "Comic-Con" has become less and less about comic books and more about pop culture and multimedia entertainment. However, comic books still make a strong showing with an entire section of the showroom floor dedicated to comic book vendors. Some sell back issues, others sell original art pages from various eras (I saw some from the 50's I recognized that surprised me). I hadn't planned on buying any comics but for some reason I figured I'd check out Zapp comics' "Transformers" box - and I'm glad I did! They had a bunch of Marvel G1 comic books (about 25 or so) all in fantastic shape. While I do own all these issues, they are quite worn from being read over and over again throughout my youth so having minty fresh copies at $2 a piece was a treat!

They say time flies when you're having fun and boy, that was true for Thursday. Whereas in the past this day was a calm day to just kind of chill at the con, this time out it was every bit as crazy, exciting and busy as any other day.


Friday was an odd day. I had wanted to go to a couple of panels during the day but they were offsite at the nearby Hammerstein Ballroom. Now, when I say "nearby" I mean several long city blocks over. Long story short, I was not going to make it to those so I spent most of the day wandering the convention and taking in the sights and sounds. I did attend one panel (perhaps the biggest panel of the day): the Marvel "Agents of Primetime" panel focusing on "Agents of SHIELD" and "Peggy Carter".

Agents of Primetime Panel
This is only the second year I've attended a Marvel panel at NYCC but it seems tradition is to have Jeph Loeb host the panel with Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson) joining in as co-host. The pair really know how to put on a show. They don't just come out at the same time. Instead Loeb usually starts off the panel (partly by thanking fans for helping to make Marvel a success) and then that leads to him introducing Gregg. When Gregg gets on stage, the audience loses its collective mind (I've seen this two years in a row). The audience pretty much starts yelling "Coulson! Coulson!" almost as if on cue. It's really something else to experience the sheer joy everyone seems to feel about seeing their favorite SHIELD agent on stage!

Sadly no one from the "Peggy Carter" cast could be at NYCC as they are filming the show during the con. However, they did put a video together featuring Hayley Atwell and James D'Arcy thanking fans for their support and claiming that Dominic Cooper could "not be found" and therefore would not be in the season. As they walked out of frame (and bumped into scenery) we see Cooper sweeping the ground behind them! It was a hilarious video and fans got a huge kick out of it.

 The panel (and my Tweets) were cut short however when Loeb announced they would show a full episode of "Agents of SHIELD"! The episode shown was "A Wanted (Inhu)man", the third episode of the current season. The crowd loved it and I have to say, watching an episode of a show like this with an audience is really a different experience than watching it at home. There was one great sequence where Agent May fights three bad guys and the audience lost its collective mind. It was a really fun fan moment!

Artist Alley
"Artist Alley" is a gigantic warehouse sized section of the Javitz Center where comic book artists are lined up in aisles for fans to meet. The artists typically have prints and original art for sale. Some artists even take orders for sketches that they draw on site for individual customers. Several "Transformers" artists were on hand during the convention. I managed to spend some time chatting with Dan Khanna (who has been working on "Transformers" art for years, and helped create the current logo for "Ben's World of Transformers"). He and I did a lot of reminiscing about the "old days" of fandom and he talked about his art expanding beyond just Transformers and into the realm of superheroes. I also met artist Ken Christiansen who has recently done a ton of work on "Transformers" packaging art (much of the Deluxe art from "Combiner Wars" is his work). We had a great conversation about his work with Hasbro and I got to see some of the pencils he did for the "Combiner Wars" art. It was super cool to see it at its most basic level before all the inking and coloring.

I also visited the table featuring Frank Frazetta's art. Frazetta was an artist whose work I grew up with in the 80's. He passed away years ago but his granddaughter was the one running the booth. I looked through the catalog of prints you could buy and purchased "Scramble", based on Battlestar Galactice (you can see it here. I've never owned a print of Frazetta's art before so it was cool to add it to my collection of prints (that I hope to have wall space to hang up on one day!).

The rest of the day was largely spent wandering the floors of the convention center. While going from one side to another I suddenly realized there was a crowd gathered around one of the "Jurassic World" displays. I managed to blunder into the front row and I realized something was about to happen - and it did! Check out the video below to see what happened!

I spent some time floating around to different vendors that had caught my eye the previous day. One of the ones that impressed me the most was the Mega Bloks booth. They had a Star Trek display! I didn't realize they had acquired the license for vehicles and figures from the original series. They had a replica of Captain Kirk's chair that you could sit in for a photo op. To the side was a giant Enterprise made up of 3,000 pieces! There was also a smaller Klingon ship and a Transporter Room showing figures that will eventually be blind bagged.

I also stopped by the Play Arts area to see their awesome interpretations of super heroes like Batman, Iron Man and Captain America. They also had video game based figures including Lara Croft from "Tomb Raider" and "Halo". They're expensive figures, and the ones I own have trouble standing on their own (there are stands for the figures). They definitely fall into the category of figures I would collect if I didn't already collect Transformers!

Friday was a fun day at NYCC, with the Marvel panel being the highlight. I always feel like Friday is the calm before the storm that is Saturday and Sunday and the next day would prove me right as the crowds grew as did the fun!