New York Comic Con 2010

Posted by under *mixed, Comics, Video Games |

This year’s New York Comic Con came and went this weekend (10/8/10-10/10/10), and this is a tough one to write up. In a word, it was overwhelming. I want to say I had a good time, but I don’t know that I came away from it with the experience that I was looking for. Thankfully, that wasn’t true for everyone here at MLD, and I did come back with a lot to write about.

The Show

Saturday was impossibly crowded. Reports indicate that 97,000 people attended the show throughout the weekend and it felt like every one of them was in the same aisle (Evan Dorkin sums it up well here). Attendees reported waiting up to an hour to get into the building and even to get into some of the panels. Both Saturday and Sunday were reported as “sold out,” but I’m not sure that point reflects a reasonable number for that space. Combining the show with the Anime Festival may have just been too much.

I hate to say it, but the staff was not helping the situation. Misinformation abounded and people were sent to wait in lines and to locations that just weren’t accurate. Many seemed to not have the information people were asking for, but with so much going on, how could they? We wanted to kidnap the guy who finally got us to where we needed to go and use him as our guide for the rest of the weekend.

The organizers provided an iPhone app to help with some of this, and it’s a great idea. The app just needed a little more information (like a map) and a way to create an agenda for the day. I’m sure these and other improvements are coming.

The Publishers

The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman

The Image Comics booth struck me as the best presentation. It was well organized and they had books readily for sale. I haven’t paid much attention to them since the first few years after they launched and it’s great to see the way they’ve evolved. I’m really impressed with their current publishing line with books like Elephantmen, I Kill Giants, Phonogram and The Walking Dead.

Marvel seemed to be doing its own thing and I was content to let them. Their area was very open, but very crowded. This is ultimately a good thing, but it really felt like there wasn’t much to see there. They had a stage with some bits/performances, but other than an action figure case, that was it. Things didn’t seem well organized for their signings or presentations, but that could easily have been a result of the sheer number of people.

DC Comics provided what was probably the highlight of the weekend for me. Around 5PM on Saturday, they stacked books on each of their six signing tables and lined fans up for a massive giveaway. Hundreds of copies of dozens of books (listed below) were handed out to anyone that lined up. These were all recent titles that are still on shelves and it was impossible not come away feeling good about DC.

  • Batman #701, Superman #701, Wonder Woman #601, All Star Batman and Robin #1, American Vampire #1, Garrison #1, DV8 #1, and $1 editions of Hellblazer #1, iZombie, Jack of Fables #1, Human Target #1, Green Lantern Secret Origins, Jonah Hex #1, Astro City #1, and The Authority #1.

And those were just the books I picked up! I didn’t take anything I already owned and there were a handful of things I knew I’d never read.

Highlights and Lowlights

Video games were a big part of the show, and Marvel vs Capcom 3 was a big hit. The booth was constantly packed, mostly with people watching other fans play the game. It’s about what you’d expect if you’ve played the previous editions, but there are clearly a lot of excited fans.

The recently announced X-Men: Destiny was something I paid particular attention to, but their photo booth gimmick fell flat. I thought this might have been something like Angie’s photo session at Lady Gaga, but it was just a green screen with some epically underwhelming background options. The writer of the game’s storyline, Mike Carey, was there for a panel but was not signing based on any information I could find. He’s my favorite X-writer currently, and I would have been thrilled to meet him.

The other big game highlight for me was the announcement that Konami’s X-Men Arcade game released nearly 20 years ago is coming to consoles “soon.” This will make another great addition to the XBOX Live Arcade and PlayStation Network.

Action figures and toys were just about everywhere you turned. The take home message for me was that the DC toy lines just look so much better than the Marvel 3 3/4″ figures. I appreciate that Marvel and Hasbro are going to great lengths to create a line that covers their entire universe, but I just don’t like the designs. The Planet Hulk and Cable/Infant Hope figures on display looked good, but I fear the final product won’t hold up. The real low point though, Hangover bobbleheads. Why do these exist?

A huge display was created to promote the upcoming Alien Anthology BluRay DVD set. Complete with sleep pods that fans could climb into, the presentation was pretty awesome. Facehugger “masks” seemed to be in every other fan’s hands or backpacks.

A great find for me was the Doctor Who Store. I’m a big fan of the series and seeing all that merchandise together in one place was pretty amazing. Action figures, books, CD audio dramas, DVDs and other things that used to be rarities in the US were all readily available. While the internet has shrunk the world of commerce tremendously over the years, it was still a treat to hold some of these things in my hands. There was also a fantastic t-shirt at another booth depicting Doctor Who as the center of the sci-fi universe.

Artist alley, as always, provided some great opportunities to interact with creators, yet it was once of the few places that wasn’t completely packed to the gills. It was nice to be able to walk up and talk to the likes of Peter David, Steve Epting, the Dodsons, Olivier Coipel, and Nicola Scott. With so many big names in attendance, it would have been easy to spend a day there.

The Bottom Line

This wasn’t the kind of show that you could really go into with an agenda and expect to execute it, but for an opportunity to just walk around and take in some sights it was great. I really wanted to at least get a picture of Guest of Honor, Stan Lee, but it just wasn’t in the cards with the way his availability was managed. I did get to meet another hero of mine though.

The show is becoming less about comics and more about genre entertainment – much like the San Diego Comic Con has – but it’s good to see a show grow the way it has. The thing it needs more than anything to compensate for that growth is better crowd management. I don’t believe that this show wasn’t oversold even for a place as large as the Javits Center. The show is set to return October 14 – 16, 2011, and I’m sure we’ll be there again as well.

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