New York Comic Con 2014 came to a close today with the main floor closing at five o’clock. Before that, though, there was plenty of stuff to still be seen and done. There were panels like “Dothraki as a Living Language” which taught how to speak a little of the strange tongue heard in the HBO show Game of Thrones. Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to any panels as I was trying to finish up some things like getting some comics signed, turning some comics in to be graded, and picking up some commissions.
One of the first things I did was check in with artist Matteo Scalera to see if my commission of Dr. Strange was ready. It was, and it is amazing. I was, and still am, completely blown away at how awesome it came out. Matteo laughed a little when he saw my reaction. I thanked him heartily for creating such a fantastic piece of original art for me. I can’t wait to get it framed and hung on my wall. On a side note, I also commissioned a head shot of Spider-Man from one of my all time favorite Spidey artists, Mark Bagley. I was able to pick it up on Saturday and while a bit more simple than the piece I got from Scalera, it still makes me very happy. While I was in artists alley, I was to pick up a sketch for an acquaintance who couldn’t make it to the show, but it wasn’t ready yet, and I was told to check in a couple hours later.
Since I had some time to burn, I went to the main floor to hang out with my friend who had come to the con with me. We decided to walk the main show floor and check out some vendors and exhibits that we may have missed previously. At one point during the day, Scott Snyder hurried past, nearly brushing into me due to the lack of space. I pointed this out to my friend who is a huge Batman fan and turned to look, finding that Snyder had stopped to talk to someone. My buddy wanted to get something signed by Snyder so we waited patiently for him to finish his conversation before approaching him to see if he was going to be signing. He indicated he was getting on the escalator in front of us, and invited us to follow. He posed for a picture with my friend while we rode upwards to the next floor. As we got off the escalator, we asked if he was signing at all today. As it turned out, he was heading to a signing at the Image booth that very moment. We continued to follow him, asking if it was a ticketed signing, like many of the other signings at the con had been all weekend. Snyder was unsure, but told us to follow him and he would make sure we got something signed. He bobbed and weaved his way through the throngs of people that filled every aisle, hastily making his way to the Image booth, but making sure that my friend and I were still in tow. When we got to the booth, a long line was already waiting for him. Before sitting down to sign autographs, he indicated to a guy working the Image booth that we needed tickets. I’m not sure if he misheard Snyder, but he only handed a ticket to my friend. Since we only had a couple of items between us to get Snyder to sign, I didn’t want to stir up any trouble and potentially ruin this good thing we had going. I just gave my book to my buddy and let him stand in line. I waited along side him, and was sure to thank Snyder and shake his hand after we got to the front of the line and he signed our stuff. This was easily one of the highlights of the entire convention and Scott Snyder is officially one of the coolest comics pros I’ve met.
While waiting in line to get books signed by Snyder, approached my friend and I asking if we would mind getting a comic signed for him. He had a wristband that allowed him to get something signed by Robert Kirkman later in the day, and was willing to get something signed by Kirkman in exchange for us. We agreed, though we didn’t have anything on us to be signed by Kirkman. The issues of Outcast we had brought for that very reason were in my car, in a parking garage a few blocks away. Our new friend, who introduced himself as Paul, said that the Kirkman signing wasn’t for just over an hour and if we wanted to run to the car and get the books, he’d be more than happy to get them signed for us in exchange for the Snyder signature. We agreed and hustled to the car and back in plenty of time to get the comics to Paul, who was already in line by the time we got back. In a very favorable turn of events, it turned out that both Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta were signing at this event, so Paul was able to get our copies of Outcast #1 signed by both of the creators. Afterwards, we thanked Paul, and wished one another a good rest of the con, and went our separate ways.
At one point while I was waiting for Paul to get through the Kirkman line, I noticed Matt Fraction (Hawkeye, Satellite Sam, Sex Criminals) standing in the Image booth, playing on his phone. I approached him and mentioned that I had brought some books with me that I would have liked to have gotten signed, but they were in my car, so I asked for a picture with Matt instead. He immediately agreed. I pulled out my phone and got a picture of us together. I shook his hand and thanked him, and he told me it was no problem, and if I wanted to run to my car to get my books for him to sign, he’d be hanging around at the Image booth for a while.
Once all that was done, I went back to artists alley to pick up a final commission and then dropped off some comics that I wanted to get graded. After that I made one final stop to pick up something for a friend back home, then decided that I was all conned out and was ready to go back to the hotel and relax for a bit. So that was the end of my first New York Comic Con experience. There were some frustrating things about the con. There were just SO many people. This year’s NYCC apparently had more attendees than SDCC. That’s great, but it makes it hard to get around without people bumping into you every couple of minutes. Some people walked around like they had no sense of purpose, slowing down everyone else around them. When you’re trying to get to a panel you really want to see, or a signing for one of your favorite creators that is only going to last for so long, you don’t want to get stuck behind someone who seems lost. Part of this problem may have been to disorganization on the part of the convention planners. NYCC has a website and an app that you can download on your phone. Both have lists of guests and exhibitors as well as panel schedules. The app even lets you make a handy to-do list and create a schedule for panels, even allowing you to set reminders for yourself. Unfortunately the info isn’t as detailed as it could be and the site and app don’t always match. I had seen on the website that Garth Ennis was going to be at the con all four days. When I was at the con and wanted to find him, I pulled up his name in the app I had downloaded on my phone. It just said he was going to be there all four days, and what panels he was taking part in. No mention of where to find him outside of those panels. When I checked the physical program that I picked up on the first day of the con, I couldn’t find Garth Ennis’s name anywhere. He wasn’t listed as an exhibitor, and he wasn’t listed as being in artists alley. I eventually found him at the Avatar Press booth after making an educated guess based on the fact that the two panels he was at were centered around comics he’d written for Avatar. Now, the app and program, and website all served their purposes, and without them I would have been completely lost, but it just seems to me that these things could use some work.
Another great annoyance: cosplayers. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for people expressing themselves, showing off their creativity and ingenuity, and publicly displaying their love for a particular character. I also get that cosplayers (some of them anyway) put a lot of time and effort into their costumes and want to show off their hard work. But some of these folks don’t seem to care about anyone else. They stop in the middle of major walkways to let people take pictures of or with them. They block off stairways, escalators, entrances and exits for photo ops. Some of them have costumes that are much larger than their actual body and make it difficult to get around them when they decide to stop and pose for the camera. I can’t count the number of times I got bopped by wings or tentacles or swords or some other extension of a costume over the course of the weekend. I don’t have a problem with cosplaying, I just wish the people doing it would be a little bit more aware of their surroundings, and perhaps a bit more considerate to their fellow fans who choose to appear in public as themselves.
On the other hand, I know it’s not news, but I decided to talk about my encounters above, because honestly, they are prime examples of what made the con worth it for me. Getting to meet some of my favorite creators is cool in and of itself, but when they are awesome and willing to take the time to treat me, a fan, like I mean at least a little something to them… well that just makes it beyond cool. I had met Matt Fraction earlier in the year at Heroes Con and he seemed like a great guy, and today he just proved it all over again. Scott Snyder writes some really entertaining and compelling Batman stories, but he’s also just a genuinely nice guy who seems to really appreciate his fans. Fabian Nicieza took a few minutes away from his friends, during his personal time, to sign some books for me on Friday evening, when he coud have just as easily told me he didn’t have any more signings scheduled for the weekend when I asked him about it earlier in the day. These guys are the nerd equivalent of rock stars, and for them to be so grounded and real, it makes me feel good about being a fan and, in a strange way, validates my choice to be a comic book geek.
Then there was Paul, who was looking to make a trade. Sure, we both got something out of it, but we also made a connection based on something we had in common. That’s not the only time during the course of the convention I found myself talking to people that I was in line with as though we were good friends. I stood in line to get autographs from Rob Liefeld for around 45 minutes or more on Friday afternoon. I had the same guy in front of me, and the same guy behind me for that entire time. We talked about what books we were getting Liefeld to sign, swapped convention stories, and got to know each other a little. Once we got through the line, we wished each other well with the remainder of the con, and never saw each other again. But stll, while we were in line, we made a genuine connection because we all love comics. It made standing in line enjoyable instead of just being a chore.
I did a lot of walking this weekend, way more than I normally do. My feet, legs, back, and shoulders (from carrying around a backpack all weekend) are sore. I wanted to yell at cosplayers to move to one side, or stop blocking off some stairs while they let people take pictures of them. But in spite of all that I still had a good time. I picked up some cool swag, but what’s more, I got to meet some great people, both creators and fans like me, and that’s what would bring me back to the con next year.