A Few Thoughts On New York Comic Con

Right off the bat, I’m going to say that I’ve learned over the last five years of attending New York Comic Con that big comic shows  like this are not my cup of tea. I don’t care about seeing panels for the most part (I’ll read about the news online), I’m not into getting celebrity autographs anymore (used to be when I was a kid), I don’t want to dress up, I like getting sketches but they’ve gotten pretty pricey and I generally don’t like standing in line. I do like flipping through cheap comics, perusing original comic art and buying cheap trades. Oh and seeing all my friends who come in for the show, that’s the best part. I guess I’m pretty simple when it comes to what I’m looking for in a show.

Basically, NYCC is too big, too crazy, too packed and the people walking around seem a little too rude for my tastes. Sure there’s lots of nice folks around, but the number of people absentmindedly flailing around the aisles with signs sticking out of their backpacks poking me in the face and pulling suitcases or hand trucks filled with comics taking me out at the legs is way too high. If I ran the show, I’d ask retailers and vendors to relax on the overly huge giveaways that just end up getting in the way. Weird Alien facehugger mask things? No problem there though they were littered all over the place, but those big huge Anime signs? Too much.

The costumes also caused a few different problems. I’m not saying people shouldn’t dress up, but try and be considerate of the people around you. Skintight’s alright, but carrying a giant hammer or sword? Ridiculous. I would imagine it’s also pretty damn uncomfortable after about 20 minutes. Oh, and if you’re wearing a costume that obscures vision, don’t act pissed off at me when you bump into me and don’t say “Hey, sorry.” I can’t tell you how many “sorrys” or “excuse mes” I dropped at the show. But even the costumes that don’t get in the way while you’re trying to walk the floor can be a pain when other people stop them to take a picture. I personally don’t understand the appeal of dressing up for these things, but to each their own. I understand wanting to take pictures of every Chewbacca or Scarlet Spider you see (I saw three myself) even less. But, if you’re going to do something like that, please, for the love of Mike, do it off to the side and not right in the middle of the aisle. Many of my problems with the show come down to basic human courtesy not being observed.

But not all of them. I went down to the show on my own during the day on Friday only from about 2 to 5 or so and the first thing I did was go down to get my press pass. I was shocked to see a line so long I half expected Jim Lee to be on the other end handing out free art and hugs. Nope, it’s the press room. I don’t really know what the hold up was. There were four or five volunteers helping people out and the guy who helped me was super nice, but it took a good half hour. I heard that this year, Reed accepted a lot more press credential applications, which was painfully obvious as I stood in line with a dude in a Viking helmet, people in costume and dudes running fan sites. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I think people from the press should handle themselves professionally.

The press line was just the first hint at how crowded and busy the show was going to be. Friday wasn’t terrible, but it still wasn’t easy to move around the show floor. I wound up spending my last hour of the show hanging outside with some friends and then took off. The next day, the missus and I planned to get down to the show around noon and it was ridiculously packed. We made our way to a few booths to see some friends, but even after that I was pretty tired of fighting the crowds, especially trying to get from the main show floor to artists alley which was not easy thanks to a gigantic Animal Planet structure they put in the back corner.Basically, this year seemed like a complete 180 change in the problem that people had the first year or two when they actually closed off entry onto the show floor because it was too crowded. The only problem with that was that some pros and panelists were actually kept from their tables and appointments.

I think artists alley has been in a different configuration each year of the show and this one was pretty good, though having the gaming stuff crammed back there lead to some more aisle-cluttering. In my opinion, the best year for the alley was when they had the whole thing on the upper level, but I hear this year, that area was being redone.

At first I thought about not even bothering with this post because it’s kind of like a hardcore horror fan taking Twilight to task for being aimed at teenagers, because these big shows aren’t really my thing anyway, but they should be my thing. Any comic fan should be able to go to a show, have a good time and take advantage of whatever the show offers. I know going in what I don’t want to bother with, but when I can’t even get to the comics, that seems like a comic show that isn’t being run very well. I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the volunteers, but I didn’t have any problems with them. I was shocked that I never once saw a place to pick up programs. They could have been right in front of me, but the crowds were so thick that I couldn’t see them.

I don’t expect much to change with NYCC. It sold out on Saturday and Sunday, so it made huge money. Things that make lots of money tend not to get scaled back to make less money. Maybe some limitations on what attendees can bring into the show could be made (no giant hammers or suitcases on the show floor, but also give people an opportunity to access their comics at the rental place) and the aforementioned request for smaller, more manageable giveaways. A much more well handled crowd would also be appreciated and make the crazy number of people walking around feel less daunting. Even if nothing changed on the part of Reed and NYCC, it would be awesome if people just relaxed a little bit, weren’t chasing after people in costume to take a picture of them in the middle of the aisle and freely smashing into people without apologizing. I don’t expect the show to be completely turned around to fit my ideal show (quarter boxes as far as the eye can see), but it would be nice if the people in charge made a change or two to make the show a little more easy to swallow.

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