New York Comic-Con 2017
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On October 5-9, 2017, New York Comic-Con set new records for attendance, truly showing off its might as the four day event in New York City for interests including comic books, movies, TV shows, card games, action figures, Anime, art and more. Beating previous records, this year it was reported that over 200,000 fans attended the convention! So large is this event that it has maintained its expansion to the Madison Square Garden Theater and Hammerstein Ballroom. There were also many off-site events held such as Freeform's show promotions, which were held across the street from the Javitz.
Once seen as a "smaller scale" Comic-Con, NYCC has rapidly grown in prominence. Marvel features many of its upcoming and current shows there every year. Stars like Keanu Reeves, John Boyega, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Michelle Yeoh make appearances to promote their projects. Major collectible companies including Diamond, Bandai, Hasbro and Funko make it a point to have a large presence on the show floor. This is balanced out to a degree by a plethora of independent artists, dealers and shops attending. From a pop culture standpoint, there is something for almost everyone at this show.
Pro-tip: Bring snacks and even a lunch if possible. Food is fairly expensive at the Javitz and food trucks (though they are a good alternative since there is little in the immediate area food-wise). Also wear comfortable clothes and shoes, especially if you will be running from site to site.
Not just a con, an experience
NYCC is no longer a con where you just go to a panel or two, take a few pictures, buy an action figure and go home. Various companies are making it a point to have a strong showing at this convention. Sure, maintstays such as Marvel and DC have always had gigantic exhibition areas displaying everything from movie costumes to upcoming toys. However other companies in recent years have ramped up experiences for fans beyond just handing out some literature and a free pin. For instance, last year they had a "Westworld" VR experience that was incredibly cool.
This year the experiences included a new "Westworld" experience (which ran out of spots so fast all four days I never stood a chance of getting in). To advertise their "Jack Ryan" series, Amazon set up an Escape Room experience which focused on using their Amazon Echo/Alexa product as a key to getting out of the Escape Room. One of my favorite experiences was the "Hang Like Spidey" room where a reproduction of Peter Parker's room from Spider-Man Homecoming was constructed and you could go into it and act like you were "crawling" on the ceiling! This was filmed and sent to you as a video. Events like this not only serve to advertise the products involved, but they also make the entire NYCC event feel more special and I am glad to see them taking place at NYCC.
Pro-tip: If there is an exhibition or event you want to go to, be sure to get to the booths as early as possible to sign up. If they are out of spots, ask about other days you are attending. Some booths sign up people early, others do not.
For me, panels are an essential part of the convention experience. It is a great way to find out more about the projects you are interested in but it also gets you in the same room as some of your favorite stars and that is always fun. I attended several panels this past weekend which ranged from medium sized ones (such as the "Tara Strong Spotlight") to ones that filled the Hammerstein Ballroom ("The Orville"). Some of these panels also give you a great chance at seeing advanced footage from upcoming shows. For instance, at the Hulu Marvel "Runaways" panel, the audience was shown the entire first episode of the series and then a sizzle reel for other episodes. There is something wonderful and visceral about sharing the experience of being excited and cheering about your favorite things with a room full of hundreds of people who feel the same way. When I was at the "Pacific Rim" panel for instance it was awesome hearing the audience cheer as the giant robots appeared on screen!
The sheer quantity of panels this year was extraordinary. By the time I had finished planning out my schedule the week before NYCC I realized there was no way I could attend everything I wanted to go to, so scheduling became a game of picking and choosing among lots of great choices. It is also important to note that panels are not just about TV shows and movies. There were panels held to talk about copyright law, another about women in science fiction and still another about comic book writing.
Pro-tip: Download the NYCC app and schedule out the panels you want to go to at least a week ahead of time. Leave time for yourself to move from place to place, especially if your panels are at off site locations. The app will also alert you if panels are filling up or full.
Part of the spectacle of NYCC is the cosplay. My mind is constantly blown at the creativity, effort and dedication fans show when they dress up as their favorite heroes and villains. The cosplay covers a spectrum of media from TV shows to movies to books and someone even dressed up as the Javitz Center itself! Sadly however one of the main areas where a lot of cosplay used to happen (affectionately called "cosplay alley") was partly taken up by food trucks this year, so you had to hunt around for the cosplay a bit more this year. In general I make it a point not to ask cosplayers for photos if they seem to be running from one place to another or if they are eating or trying to rest.
Pro-tip: Always ask permission before taking a photo of a cosplayer. If you have a card handy, offer it to them so they know where their photos will wind up. I was unaware of this protocol until this year on Sunday when I saw several professional photographers doing it.
Artist Alley is a section of the convention where artists of all kinds (mostly comic books) are set up to take on the spot commissions and sell samples of their art. Sometimes this is original artwork that actually made its way to publication. Other times the art for sale may be prints of a well known art piece from a comic book or graphic novel. Prices vary wildly from artist to artist, partly based on who the artist is and how long the commission may take.
This year, Artist Alley was moved away from its usual location on the north side of the convention center because it was under construction. Instead, the Alley was crammed into a smaller space on the south side of the building. It was a bit tough to maneuver and I really hope it moves back to the original spot next year. That area is much more well lit and full of wide open space so you could get through the aisles without bumping into too many people.
Pro-tip: While some artists take cards, cash is still king in this area, so bring plenty of it if you intend to purchase several commissions and autographs. In some cases you may need to set up a commission, pay for it and pick it up later in the day or the next day. If there is a specific artist you are interested in, I recommend visiting them early on to book their time as far in advance as possible.
New York Comic-Con 2017 was the most jam packed one yet both in terms of sheer attendance numbers and the amount of activities available. The convention has made some great improvements in how it is organized including more notifications via their app and using badges to reserve a spot in panels instead of physical wristbands. I just hope that more of the activities can be folded back into the Javitz Center in the future. I had a wonderful time at NYCC and look forward to next year!
Ben's World of Transformers would like to thank Reed Pop for providing BWTF with a Press Pass for this event.