NYCC 2008 CONVENTION COVERAGE
The New York Comic Con started for me on Saturday morning. Registration this year was a breeze. I didn't have to wait a half hour for my badge to be printed up. They took my business card, had me fill out a form, and handed me a badge. On the downside, my name wasn't printed on the badge. I like having names on badges. That makes it easier for those of us who handle social situations awkwardly and forget names readily. I saw a lot of people with press badges writing their names in Sharpie markers across the front.
While I'm thinking about that, I had brain freeze way too many times on Saturday. People who I see at every convention and talk to via e-mail the rest of the year had names that I had to think of to remember. That's not right. Normally, I'd chalk it up to being the first convention of the year. Since this is my only convention of the year, though, I have no choice but to come out of the gate at a full sprint. Ah, well.
On the bright side, I didn't blow any names and they all did come to me.
The press room was located downstairs again, and lots of media people hung out in there until the show floor opened. Already I could see the array of video gear congregating. These weren't just cheap consumer video cameras like families use to track their children's first steps. These were often high def cameras, cameras with big wind-shielded microphones pointing straight forward, and bulky things like you'd expect professionals to use. Welcome to video over the 'net, a new revolution where everyone is a TV star. It's a theme that repeated itself through the day.
Even I got into the game. I promised long ago that I wouldn't inflict my image on you all in video. Eh, times change. While I'm not doing my own video podcast (no time or equipment), I did accept an invitation from the guys at iFanboy to appear on a Mini video show, which we shot in the afternoon on the floor of the con. You can see that video today (Tuesday, April 22) over on their website. It's the weekly "What Comic Are You Most Looking Forward To?" episode and I went for something that's, honestly, an easy answer. I got a big laugh, though. Watch it.
The first sign that the show had exploded in size came from the holding pen. In San Diego, there's a spot upstairs "under the sails" that security congregates all convention goers in, prior to opening the door. The NYCC had one of those this year, too. It took me a moment before I realized the enormity of the situation -- the room that the con was held in last year is the room that they congregated attendees in at the beginning of the day this year.
That line took about 40 minutes to filter through the door into the hall, though the people-watching in the room was fascinating. Two girls dressed in belly dancer gear -- i.e., not much -- were handing fliers out to the line from outside the ropes. At one point, they both ran across the hall to the other side for reasons unknown. Hmmm, two girls with (basically) bikinis on, running full sprint in front of a line of comic guys. That seemed daring.
Saw one guy playing a Nintendo DS guy in line. Heard another near me complain that he wish he had brought his.
Best quote of the line, though: "This sucks like the metric system sucks."
The folks behind the NYCC are claiming attendance of 64,000. I think they're counting three day admissions as three people, though, which puts them in the same boat as WizardWorld. If the people behind the San Diego convention used the same methodology, they could probably claim 400,000 in attendance, or more.
Once on the floor, it was time to roam, attack, and conquer the show floor. I'm not sure I conquered anything. I just circled around a lot, landing at friendly booths as they were convenient. My goal was not to spend a ton of money and carry around a heap of books. I was successful in that, for the most part, though I did pick up some nifty stuff. You'll hear about some of it in the weeks ahead, I imagine.
The con floor was packed too tightly. It reminded me of the Comic-Con International: San Diego growing pains, when the crowds were getting bigger and the aisles stayed the same size. There were times I felt trapped on the show floor, and getting from Point A to Point B always took too much time. It's nice that they had a much bigger show floor this year and could add so many more vendors, but the ratio of vendor space to hallway space certainly didn't change. That said, Artists Alley was packed, with a lot of tables and lots of lines. I was impressed by that.
I can't imagine how bad it might have been if there hadn't been a major Jewish holiday keeping so many people home for the weekend. It might have pushed the show over the edge. Any time there was a bit of breathing room on the con floor, I was very happy. Thankfully, they designed a few slightly open spaces into the floor plan to accommodate that, notably down the middle and in the back of the hall.
The panel rooms were just around the corner from the food court downstairs, but they seemed too small and too far out of the way. That led to one of two situations: Rooms were either half empty, or too full. It's another sign of a young con that the fire marshal didn't think to look at the panel rooms. The "Stan Lee on Stan Lee" panel, alone, should have been shut down. The room was overly crowded, with people clogged in the doorways. Security in San Diego is sure to either close off a room after it's full, or keep the doorways free from stragglers. NYCC needs to work on that.
My plans this year had been to pop into some panel rooms, take some pictures, and move on. I was going to do this report in a photojournalistic style. That didn't happen. I found too much to do on the show floor, and the most interesting panels were in rooms far too small for their attendance. Don't get me started on the big theater room. That thing had lines waiting to get into it anytime I looked, plus a big scary notice that no cameras were allowed inside. Too bad.
I did catch part of a Marvel panel in the afternoon. I saw Marvel Editor Nick Lowe interviewing "Cable" writer, Duane Swierzynski.
A little later, I chanced across the last few minutes of an Image Comics panel, where you could see current Image President Erik Larsen and his predecessor, Jim Valentino, looking on as others on the panel answered questions.
It was on Sunday, however, that I learned something valuable: If the comic convention is in your own hometown, you're not as committed to it. When you go home at the end of the day to sleep in your own bed, you don't feel the need to stay out all night and go out to dinner and hang out at the bars and whatnot. Talking to some of the other locals at the convention, I heard many of the same feelings. Many were just ready for the con to be over. I ended up leaving early, as a matter of fact, to get home for dinner. I didn't feel the need to walk aimlessly through the convention hall for another hour and a half without a game plan with a heavy backpack dragging me down.
I think it might take a couple days to recover from all that walking around, too. I'm not in good con shape. That stinks.
There are other things that set this convention apart from Comic-Con International: San Diego. For starters, the geeks don't take over the whole town. Heck, they don't even take over the entire convention center. A second small convention was going on at the same time as the NYCC. It was downstairs, just off to the side of the panel rooms area.
At the same rate, you can't help shake the feeling sometimes that NYCC is seeking to emulate (to put it nicely) the model that SDCC has put together. (Really, "Comic Con?") This year's blitz of Hollywood is a good example of that. A packed panel listing is another, though there just isn't the room for all of them. I saw one interesting panel on Sunday morning being attended by less people than were on the dais. I felt bad for them and just moved on. The other problem is that the panels are downstairs and off to the side. It's hard to find them, and a couple of the smallest rooms (holding barely 100 people, I'd guess) are so tiny and well hidden that I'd be shocked if everyone knew they were there.
The big talk of the convention on Sunday, though, was the schedule for next year. Someone checked the calendar and realized that it's on the Super Bowl weekend. If the Giants make a repeat bid for a Super Bowl trophy, the con is going to take a big hit. If the Jets make it to the Super Bowl -- wait, no, never mind. That's not going to happen.
What crappy timing for a convention. I guess that's why they could get the convention center to themselves for the weekend.
The major accomplishment for Sunday was being able to see Stan Lee. His panel promoting "Election Daze," a new fumetti humor book with a political bent, was held in what looked like a larger room than Saturday's "Stan Lee on Stan Lee" panel, and was less well attended. Don't get me wrong; he still attracted a sizable and enthusiastic crowd. But there were plenty of seats available. Sunday mornings at 11:00 are bad times for panels.
Later on, I had some nice long chats at the Boom! Studios booth with the people there, including the pictured (seated) Kevin Church, (back row, left to right) Michael Alan Nelson, Chip Mosher, Michael Leib, and publisher Ross Richie. At the end of it, Ross Richie offered up some free trade paperbacks to Pipeline readers. Who am I to turn down such an offer? I'll be holding some random draws for these in the next couple of weeks, but let's start with "Left on Mission." This is Chip Mosher's spy drama with beautiful art by the current "Zorro" artist, Francesco Francavilla. You may remember it from Mosher's COMMENTARY TRACK a couple of months ago. It's a beautiful printing of the story and it can be yours - free - if you win the contest.
Send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and put "Left On Mission" in the subject line. Include your name and address in the body of the e-mail and get it to me before Friday, April 25th at noon, Eastern Time, U.S. I won't even set a geographical restriction on this one. Come one, come all. I'll choose an eligible e-mail with a random drawing over the weekend and announce the winner here next week before beginning the next freebie.
After the drawing, I'll delete all the e-mails and will not use your addresses in any way. Promise.
That's about all the time I have to type for now. Next week: more stories, more adventures, more pictures, more Boom! giveaways, and a special announcement. My NYCC coverage ain't over by a long shot.
IN CASE OF PODCAST, PULL!
Had there been a Pipeline Podcast last week, here's what the Top Ten list would have looked like:
10. "Wonderlost" #2
C.B. Cebulski's autobiographical coming-of-age anthology won't be for everyone, but I enjoy it. Once again, I'm reminded of what a barren wasteland my teenage and college years were. Oh, well.
9. "DC Wildstorm Dream War" #1 (of 6)
Yes, they insist on revitalizing the WildStorm Universe. I'm rooting for it, but don't see it happening.
8. "Batman And The Outsiders" #6, "Robin" #173
Two Batman books written by Chuck Dixon in the same week? Works for me!
7. "Noble Causes" #32, "Noble Causes Archives" TP Vol 01
This is the big flash forward issue, as Jay Faerber picks up his characters and jumps five years into their future to make a soft reboot of sorts. It's meant to drag in new readers, as is the accompanying "Archives" edition, which reprints a whole big chunk of the original series in black and white at an attractive price.
6. "Star Trek Year Four Enterprise Experiment" #1
This whole "write the next season of a cancelled TV series" theory seems to be the way to go. We'll see if D.C. Fontana as the same luck as Joss Whedon is having with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." They made a good move by getting veteran "Trek" artist, Gordon Purcell, to handle the art duties. Mario Boon's coloring is bright and colorful, but the soft highlights are repetitive and busy looking after a while.
5. "Avengers Initiative" #11
I'm still loving this book, and Slapstick is my new hero. Someone give that guy a mini of his own!
4. "Hellboy Library Edition" HC Vol 01 "Seed Of Destruction" & "Wake The Devil"
I like pretty repackagings of modern material. This looks to be no exception.
3. "Captain America" #37
Still a great book. Nothing to add. Good issue, if not over-the-top spectacular.
2. "Suicide Squad Raise The Flag" #8 (of 8)
As I write this, I still haven't read this issue, but it's very exciting.
1. "Perhapanauts" #1
Todd Dezago and Craig Rousseau started this book as a self-published ashcan done on newsprint. From there, it moved to Dark Horse for two mini-series. Now, it's over to Image, where it becomes a monthly series. Yay for Choopie and pals! Let's hope some of those mysteries in the series can start to be paid off with the new increased frequency.
We're also working on a COMMENTARY TRACK feature for the issue, so stay tuned!
The good news is, progress has been made on the podcast. Stay tuned. You might even hear one this week. Thanks for your patience in the last month. I'm looking forward to getting back into the podcasting habit after this brief sabbatical.
Next week: As previously mentioned, more NYCC coverage and lots of pictures. I might even sneak in a review.
The Various and Sundry blog carries on, with a return to "Big Brother," a look at the moon, more photography, more DVDs, more Twitters, and more of more.
If you're really interested in what daily news bits grab my attention in the worlds of tech and comics and more, the best way to track is it at the Google Reader Shared Items. Several items are added to that page every day. I'm an RSS feed junkie.
The only social network I regularly appear on is Twitter. It's a very fun place with low overhead and the least number of annoyances of any Web 2.0 site, aside from an unstable infrastructure.
More than 800 columns -- nearly eleven years' worth -- are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically.