Show Runner Fensterman on NYCC '09 & Beyond

Wed, January 14th, 2009 at 11:18am PST | Updated: January 14th, 2009 at 12:35pm

Comic Books
Jeffrey Renaud, Staff Writer
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NYCC Show Runner Lance Fensterman

Having already announced heavy hitters including Geoff Johns, Brian Michael Bendis, Grant Morrison and J. Michael Straczynski as guests of honor, no doubt New York ComicCon (NYCC) will be the place to be February 6-8.

Lance Fensterman, NYCC’s show runner, has now confirmed exclusively for CBR News that the cast and crew from FOX’s hit new series “Fringe” will be coming to the Big Apple, as well, for the big show.

New York Comic Con, advertised as the East Coast’s “biggest and most exciting popular culture convention,” is second only in size and arguably importance on the convention circuit, behind only Comic-Con International in San Diego, held annually in July.

Fensterman shared some important dates and details with CBR readers, as well as what to expect in 2009, and what to look forward to in 2010 and beyond.

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CBR: When did you start planning NYCC 2009? Was it April 21, 2008, the day after NYCC 2008?

Lance Fensterman: Oh yeah, right away man. In some ways we start even sooner than that by negotiating dates, for example. Yeah, the rest after the show seems all too short.

NYCC 2008 photos by Pinguino Kolb

In terms of growth, compare this year’s event with NYCC’s “humble” beginnings back in 2006?

2006 versus 2009 are two totally incomparable events. The show has evolved so far that it’s hard to describe. New York Comic Con is now the fourth largest event that takes place in New York City. We are 200 percent bigger than in 2006 and I expect we’ll be about 20 percent bigger than 2008. The growth has been amazing.

Is there someone out there you'd love to get but haven't been able to land yet?

We always leave a ticket for Steve Ditko.

What do you personally love about NYCC?

What I love about this show is that there is something for everyone. And that the con is a place where people with all kinds of passions can come and have a great time and be amongst friends. I’ve said many times that our goal is to build a show with comics at its core and move outward into all realms of pop culture in equal directions. Every guest and every event sends a message to a different fan that NYCC is cool for them. It’s a place where his or her friends will be, a place where the stuff they love, no matter what it is, is represented.

Where do you spend most of your time during the event?

I run everywhere. I get to the building before anyone from my team, usually around 6:00AM on the weekends and see who’s out front waiting in line, talk with them, hear why they camped out. From there, I am literally all over the building, checking on how things are running, going to events I am interested in or I know will be popular, talking with fans, checking with customers to see how things are going, meeting with people in my office that have asked for me for one reason or another, looking over the show floor to check on crowding and aisle density, you get the idea. I put a lot of miles on my feet that weekend. I want a golf cart, but no one takes my request seriously.

Are there any important deadlines fast approaching for potential attendees?

NYCC 2008 photos by Pinguino Kolb

This Friday, January 16 is the last chance to buy a ticket and have it mailed to you. Buy your ticket by January 16, for real.

What about VIP passes?

We have completely sold out of our VIP passes.

In terms of the trade show, any major industry shifts you are recognizing?

Lots and lots of video game titles and companies will be on hand this year. The growth with gamers has totally exploded. We also built a business center for professionals to do business. We feel like that is an extremely important aspect of our show that sets us apart from all other cons.

Are there any additional updates for companies wishing to participate?

The show is selling out, so get a booth if you want one.

With North America struggling --to put it mildly – in terms of economics, do you expect to feel any fallout at NYCC?

We have not felt the pinch from the exhibition side. I am holding my breath on the fan side that the fans will still have the bucks to come out. However, I have always felt that if we build a kick ass show, we will earn their money. And I think we have.

Moving beyond 2009, what are the plans for 2010? We know you are not thrilled with the February date. Are you looking to push the show back?

My lips are sealed for a bit longer. The truth is Javits (http://www.javitscenter.com/) has no space to offer us for 2010 so heading into the show we had nothing, scary eh? However, we have applied some leverage that only a company like Reed can and we are very close to making a major announcement on the future of NYCC. Very close, but not quite ready yet.

NYCC 2008 photos by Pinguino Kolb

Does moving the date closer to San Diego’s Comic-Con International affect your ability to get guests and big studio announcements?

I can’t imagine a scenario in which we’d do that. We see our event as a complement to San Diego and it would be highly illogical for us to move closer to them. Not just for us, but for our customers who are ultimately who we wish to please.

Can you speak to the assumed synergy between NYCC and the New York Anime Festival? Do they complement each other? Is it the same promotions team? Does one in any way distract from the other?

We have, by and large, the same team on both events and I think the events complement each other in a sense. We really felt that Anime needed its own space and own identity. That show and the fans are very much about community and hanging out with peers and friends and to do that, you need your own place.

Any plans for any other shows from Reed? Are you looking to expand into other media?

NYCC started in ’06. In ‘07 we added NY Anime Fest. In ‘08 we entered into a partnership on Penny Arcade Expo, so here we are in ‘09 and based on the pattern, I think it's safe to infer you'll see us making some interesting moves in the next 12 months.

New York Comic Con takes place February 6-8 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York.

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TAGS:  nycc2009, lance fensterman, new york comic con

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