NYCC ’13: The wrap-up begins

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new york comic con 2013 NYCC 13: The wrap up begins

by Jeffrey O. Gustafson

First, I’d like to thank Heidi MacDonald for giving me the opportunity to report from the convention this year. I’d also like to praise the security and staff at the Jacob K. Javit’s center for accomplishing the very difficult task of corralling the tens of thousands of people who crowded into the building this weekend.

That said, the convention has clearly outgrown the space. Picture this for a second: At the heart of our sun, Hydrogen fuses into Helium, releasing energy and photons. But the photon created at the center takes a thousand centuries to escape the Sun’s core, because it’s just so crowded in there. The elements endlessly bouncing around at the extraordinarily crowded Sun’s core vividly represent what it was like trying to walk around NYCC this weekend.

The Javit’s center is simply not large enough to accommodate the sheer number of people attending the con. Even on Thursday, the main floor was unnavigable, far too packed with people to comfortably explore any of the booths. Friday and Saturday were beyond nuts. I usually avoid the main floor in favor of the panels, but every single panel I attended was standing-room only. Now, I see the latter bit as a positive, that it’s not just a hundred thousand cultural tourists swamping the floor to buy geeky tchotchkes and gawk at booth babes and cosplayers, but large amounts of folks genuinely interested in comics, the people that make them and the people that love them.

The convention’s role, like San Diego, as a pop culture event is undeniable. I see many old-school comickers lamenting the crossover nature of the convention, and that is understandable. It would be nice to have a low-key, uplifting, comic book heavy convention, something like a Heroes Con mixed with an SPX, but in the largest city in the country that is a pipe dream. This is the convention ReedPOP wanted all along, and this is the convention we’re stuck with.

Despite the madness, like every convention I’ve been to, the creators, editors and professionals attending the event have been friendly, accessible and entertaining. If you can wade through the seas of colorfully doffed flesh, you can have a pretty cool encounter with some of the best writers and artists in the industry.

I know the whole weekend was crazy, and so heavily pop culture focused, but I still get all mushy this time of year. I love comics, I love geek culture, and I love New York City. New York Comic Con combines all of these in one glorious, manic weekend. Beneath the throngs of people paying for autographs from B-list celebutards, the cultural tourists and media snobs who have never held a comic in their life, beneath all that lies a glorious celebration of comics, and of the vibrant, accepting, loving communities throughout geek culture.

I really love comics, the storytelling medium, and I really love superhero culture. Sometimes I lament that I’ve never been to San Diego Comic Con, that I’ve never been to Angouleme, or a World Con. And then I walk out of the hideous cubic structure that is the Javit’s center and walk through the streets of my beautiful city, surrounded by my people, walking through midtown at night, glowing and reeking and shining and flawed and perfect, and I remember that I am in New York, the greatest city in the world, my home.

I don’t need San Diego or Angouleme or Baltimore or TCAF or Comiket. I’ve got New York.

Comments

  1. John Shableski says:

    It was a fun, crazy, crowded show but I would argue that the cross over effect of shows like NYCC is what has continued to elevate the comics medium to new levels of overall market awareness.

    As for maxing out the capacity? I believe there’s still more space to be utilized on the lower level as well as on the third floor.
    Muwaaaahahahahahahahahahh! MORE! I want MORE!

  2. Tommy Raiko says:

    With regard to the crowds, as unnavigable as the floor may have been, the ICv2 interview with the show runner (http://icv2.com/articles/news/26950.html ) talks about how the “exhibit floor and other areas of the Javits Convention Center [were] noticeably less packed than the last couple of years.” Which is mind-boggling.

    It does seem that line management and crowd management will continue to be a fundamental challenge to these sorts of events. It sounds like they made some important improvements this year, which makes it plausible that they’ll continue to improve in future.

  3. I don’t see why a lower-key convention is a pipedream. While the Wizard conventions certainly aren’t what I’d call good, they are lower-key, and they hold one in NYC. Plus there used to be good, very comic-centric shows in Penna Plaza Pavilion ( I think), up until the early 2000s, and that was very comfortable compared to NYCC.

  4. Torsten Adair says:

    I avoided the show floor on Saturday. Thursday evening, I did the big booths in the middle, when crowds weren’t too bad. Friday, I did the sides… 1E and 1A. Again, not too bad.

    Sunday, when I did some bargain shopping, yeah, the aisles moved slowly, especially with everyone rubbernecking in the retail aisles. But traffic moved, if slowly, and I was able to do a little NASCAR-style maneuvering around people into pockets of empty space. Never did I shuffle my feet as part of a mass of humanity.

    Artists Alley? No problem.
    The concourse (“2A”)? Crowded, but people kept in motion. Yeah, a few cosplay photos clotted traffic, but one could move around them, and they didn’t pose for more than a minute.
    1A? Easy. The side entrance to 1B siphoned a lot of traffic out of the front of 1A, and those people found other entrances further south.
    1B siphoned a lot of people as well. Sunday, it was PACKED for autographing.
    The 1E stage also pulled many people down to what was once a dead zone.

    I don’t know why 1C can’t double as a queue hall AND an autographing hall, since the stanchions are already there, and that space is underutilized the rest of the day.

    As for attendance… It seems that about 40% of the crowd last year was counterfeit. Which puts the actual total near 150K? This year: 130,000.

    Compare to the One Million who attend the NY Auto Show over ten days.

    If ReedPOP can move events off-site, then that will also siphon the crowds as well.

  5. Torsten Adair says:

    Just about every type of comics show exists in NYC:
    NYCC
    Kids Con
    MoCCA Fest
    Wizard
    Dealer shows (Hotel New Yorker, soon)
    School shows (SVA, Hawthorne)
    Book festivals (Brooklyn)
    Curated shows (Brooklyn)

    A good comics-centric show? Asbury Park, NJ. They also have a new show up in Westchester in June. (See the ad to the right: “New York Comic Fest”.)

  6. Jim Caldwell says:

    Beneath the throngs of people paying for autographs from B-list celebutards

    … and people howl with outrage when the words “nerd blackface” appear.
    We live in interesting times.

    (What is that anyway? Is that a subsection of celebrity? Where does it fall on the Celebrity Alphabet? Who qualifies as an A-List “celebu****”? Does that group have a D-List as well?)

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