At the end of the last day of New York Comic Con 2016, Clinton, Will, and I sat down for you all to record a brief recap of our thoughts on this year’s convention. Now that the dust is settling and I have had the time to really think about my experience, I wanted to use that dialog as my jumping off point.
We spent a lot of the video complaining about the faults of New York Comic Con and ReedPop’s shitty management of a massive convention. We discussed what we liked but we also discussed what we felt the convention was missing. I mentioned that I was excited about booths from pattern makers – there were bargains to be had and cosplans to make on the spot based on my purchases. Ranging from $5 to $20 you could buy patterns from cosplay specific lines – something that is difficult for a New Yorker to do without traveling out to a JoAnn’s in New Jersey. I certainly appreciated that. I also felt great when a purchase gone-wrong was quickly corrected by the nice folks at CultureFly. I enjoyed spinning the wheel at the Viz Media booth. I had fun looking at the books at the Yen Press booth. I was satisfied with the one panel I managed to get into. I had a lot of fun meeting up with friends and taking pictures in cosplay.
Of course, only a small percentage of my enjoyment was related to comics or graphic novels. Will and I touched upon the convention needing more video game content. I casually mentioned TEKKEN (Yes, I know there was a TEKKEN 7 booth but you try waiting on that line) simply because it’s a great example of the diminishing video game presence at such a major convention. Once upon a time Bandai-Namco had TWO booths. So when I wanted to play TEKKEN, if one booth was packed I just wandered off to the other one at the other end of the dealer’s room. When I wanted to play ASSASSIN’S CREED on the PS Vita, the line moved super quick because Ubisoft had a massive both with several gaming stations to play various demos. This year the lines were out of control because booths were smaller. Despite attending NYCC for three full days, I had very little opportunity or desire to really traverse the dealer’s room. Additionally, as the years go by, there are less and less booths that call out to my interest.
This year we had many booths that had zero to do with geek culture. NYX Cosmetics had a booth – nothing says comic books better than poor quality drug store makeup. Last year KISS nails had a booth, because, press-on-nails have everything to do with fandom. VAMPIRE FREAKS usually has a booth and quite frankly, I have no idea why half naked goth chicks would be even remotely interested in Comic Con. The real comic con section of the dealer’s room was crammed way off in the 3000s aisle, far away from the main entrances. I suppose that is testament to ReedPop’s commitment to promoting comics and supporting the local comic book shops who purchase overpriced tables with the risk of barely breaking even.
The Artist Alley is another example of poison that has infected NYCC. It’s all the way at the end of the Javits Convention Center. If you’re at the 34th street entrance, you’re literally walking all the way to 37th street(but inside the building) to get to the Artist Alley. Yes, there are artists there.. but quite frankly, I’m not interested in someone like Chris Claremont or a Mad Magazine artist having a table there. Those people, who have made their claim to fame ought to be selling their art and autographs in the dealer’s room just like Yaya Han. The Artist Alley used to be a place I could go to buy art from local, unknown amateurs who had real talent waiting to be discovered. I could buy a cool drawing or cutely crafted pillows, accessories, pottery, you name it and it could be found. Now, the Artist Alley is really just an extension of the main sales floor, with artists and authors trying to sell me their comics. That’s okay but it’s not really what a lot of people are looking for. Now I understand why this has happened. Just as badge prices have skyrocketed for attendees, buying a table anywhere at NYCC has become unfeasible for a lot of young and unknown artists.
With all of this complaining, I realize I have become no better than any of the random fandoms that use NYCC as a meetup opportunity. I want NYCC to have more video games and more anime. While there is a lot of overlap between the two – if we really look at comic conventions for what they are supposed to be, is there any room for video games or anime? Is there really room for anything but comics? If that is the case, than perhaps we should all go back to our own conventions. I should go to anime and video game conventions and leave comic con alone. You tv watchers should stick to conventions focused on tv fandoms. Goths should stick with night clubs, and makeup companies should stay out of all of these venues.
I have been attending NYCC since nearly the very beginning and it is with a heavy heart I must admit that if I go with the intention of getting into panels or getting a hands-on with new stuff related to my hobbies, I’m going to be burned hard. The only people I know who enjoyed NYCC2016 were those who went with zero expectations at all. Those are the same people who simply used NYCC as a reunion of sorts. It was a chance to meet up with their old sci-fi, anime, or comic book club from college or high school. So, for me, if I plan to go to NYCC again, it will be for that purpose. But quite frankly, I don’t even know if a ReedPop event is worth that much to me.
Here’s to hoping smaller conventions trying their luck in 2017 succeed.