Comic con proves welcoming to novices

Attending an official Comic Con event has been something we have both been wanting to do for years. In fact, we didn’t really realize we both enjoyed comics and all things nerdy before last semester when we became friends. Over the summer, it was casually mentioned that New York Comic Con tickets were going up for sale online near the end of June and that we should get tickets and attend together. After a whirlwind 24 hours, the two of us, Maddy Vogel and Palak Patel, had successfully purchased Saturday passes for the second biggest comic book convention in the country (second only to San Diego Comic Con).

We took an 8 a.m. train down to the city on Saturday, Oct. 11, completely unsure of what to expect upon our arrival at Grand Central. As the we got closer to the city , more and more cosplay-adorning adults joined us on the train, creating an atmosphere of burgeoning excitement. Grand Central Station was filled with groups of people dressed as various comic book and television show characters. There were the familiar superheroes and the unfamiliar manga characters. Little did we know that this was just a teaspoon of the visual assault we were about to receive upon our arrival at the Javits Center.

Before that Saturday, both of us had already downloaded the NYCC app and chosen a number of panels we wanted to attend. We ended up missing the first panel altogether, but we decided it was fine. Instead, we walked upstairs to the largest part of the Javits Center where NYCC had placed the exhibition show room. The space was packed wall-to-wall with tables and booths filled to the brim with comic books, action figures, t-shirts and novels. The room was loud, packed and not for the faint of heart, but we walked through several times throughout the day, taking in the different groups represented in the booths. The big names were obviously there: Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image, IDW Publishing, Comixology and a variety of large and small comic book sellers. Beside these booths were the large companies who helped to sponsor and pay for NYCC, like Geico, Amazon, Nerdist, ReedPop and AMC. The sheer amount of people packed into an already large room just went to show just how large an event like Comic Con really is. We wish we had gotten to spend more time here looking at comics and t-shirts, but it was too hard to navigate with so many people, so we decided to spend most of our time elsewhere.

After getting lost multiple times in the exhibition room, we made our way down to the bottom floor where the panels were set up. Lines for the panels would generally start about 30 minutes prior to the panel, but if the panel featured larger names then the line would start much earlier. On more than one occasion, we found ourselves cut out of a panel because the room was already filled. We ended up attending four panels: two that dealt with the creative process behind comics, one that featured an all-female panel who discussed their roles within the industry, and one that was just Stephen Amell talking about his role as Oliver Queen on the television show “Arrow.” The two about the creative process were interesting to us because we are both very interested in possibly writing or drawing for comics. IDW hosted the panel and the panelists each went over their work and how they find working with licensed titles versus original titles. The all-female panel was hosted by DC (there was a Marvel one the next day) and wasn’t as exciting as we had hoped. The panel was a mix of editors, writers and artists but was too crowded. Some women didn’t get to speak at all and overall, it was a bit disappointing. Our favorite panel was definitely the one with Stephen Amell. We waited in line for almost an hour and the room was packed, but it was worth it. He gave hints about the new season and answered fan questions. There was even a surprise visit from Colin Donnel, who played Tommy Merlyn. Though we were disappointed that we didn’t get to see most of the panels we wanted to—like one presented by The Mary Sue called “Strong Female Characters: Women Shining in Geek Media”—we definitely had a great time at the panels we got into.

In between the panels, we had plenty time to kill. It was during this time that we ventured over to Artist Alley where hundreds of comic book, manga and other artists had set up booths to sell and commission work. Artist Alley was by far our favorite part. The artists were generally happy to talk about their work and the process behind it as well as sign anything we had. This room was also a lot less crowded and more relaxed than the exhibition room, so we were able to take our time and see everyone we wanted to see while also purchasing cheap and one-of-a-kind posters and keepsakes. Both of us got prints by awesome artists and even got a Batgirl print signed by writer Gail Simone.

As a whole, the community at Comic Con was very welcoming and everyone was just excited to be there. We did run into a few people who weren’t so friendly when we tried to talk to them, but almost everyone else was happy to help us. Both of us even got compliments on our cosplays! About half the attendees were in costume—ranging from anime to superheroes to television to who-knows-what—but probably the most popular was Deadpool. Everywhere you turned there was a Deadpool taking a photo with another Deadpool. Next time we go we’ll definitely make more of an effort to dress up, but since this was our first convention we decided to play it safe in more casual costumes.

Overall, NYCC was a fantastic event and we both had a great time. For first-time goers, we had little trouble getting to the venue and navigating the Javits Center. However, the people running it knew what they were doing and it was all very well organized. The whole atmosphere was fun and inclusive and we both came home with far too much merch. We would definitely go again and tell all types of comic fans to go as well.

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