Recapping New York Comic Con 2017
Another New York Comic Con has come to a close and there is so much to discuss. Let’s break it down as I always do starting with…
Fan Verification and Pre-Sale process
This process started in 2016 and those who were part of that process were given first crack at buying their 2017 tickets before the general public. I like this perk and if ReedPop continues it in 2018, it’s an added incentive to buy your tickets. Of course with the good always comes the bad. The bad this year came in the form of no more 4 or 3-day tickets let alone no VIP or Special Access. Instead only individual days were made available. In theory if you want to go all 4 days, it will cost you more than in years past. Not sure why this is the case. Depending on who you ask some think it has to do with the construction and expansion of the Javits Center while others believe its to create a fair experience for all convention goers. Honestly, not sure how much I put into either theory but the pre-sale overall seems to go without too much drama.
The Green Entrance
A major pet peeve of mine was the green entrance for convention goers. There was only one way to get in and if it rained, well, let’s just say customers were not happy especially if you were cosplaying. This year those concerns were met and was vastly improved by adding a second entrance, now there were two entrances that bookended the convention center. This improvement streamlined visitors and getting into the queue hall was never easier. Speaking of the queue hall, this leads me to…
The Main Stage (Tap and go)
By allowing visitors an easier and less stressful way of getting into the queue hall, gives them a better chance at choosing which panel they wish to see for that day. Each day I went, I had my chance at every one of them. That wasn’t always the case in years past. There is nothing worse than getting up bright and early and arriving at center only to find out that a panel is already closed. I was fortunate to attend six panels on the main stage, a record for me which included one with Neil deGrasse Tyson and seeing the world première of Batman vs. Two-Face which was Adam West’s final appearance as Batman.
As I’ve stated before when choosing a panel, prioritize what you wish to see and get to the convention center as early as possible. If you’re able to see more than one on the main stage that day, smile and consider yourself lucky.
If only the team at Epic Photos could run every aspect of the convention experience. Most of them are on their feet all day and I’m sure by the last day, their voices are a bit hoarse but their professionalism is second to no one. It doesn’t seem to matter what time of day it is, the staff is always helpful, informative and kind.
Like an episode out of Game of Thrones this is where it gets feisty. An improvement I like was the pre-show lottery for such vendors like the ever popular Funko and LEGO. The lottery gave visitors a shot at getting hot exclusives. But if you’re not one of the lucky winners, chances are local stores like Hot Topic or Barnes and Noble will carry some of these. Another improvement was the standby line for non-winners. I heard the wait could be upwards of 1-2 hours but if that’s what you want, God bless and good luck. I could see more vendors in the future using this system to help garner more interest in their merchandise.
Usually one of my highlights was one of my biggest disappointments. The disappointment comes from the fact that because the Javits is under construction for expansion, Artist Alley was relocated to the old Empire Stage area which was not spacious, it wasn’t well lit and was so humid that many convention goers were turned off and didn’t stay too long. It’s a shame because the artists are the real heroes of any comic con. This is where you can see and talk to the industries finest artist both seasoned veterans and up and coming new stars as well as getting some unique commissions done. It’s honestly hard to place blame when there is construction going on and the though of scaling down vendors will probably never be considered. I hope when the expansion is completed, Artist Alley will find a proper home.
Last year the undisputed king of autograph alley was without question the legendary Stan Lee. This year, without any debate was Mark Hamill. Even at nearly $300 per autograph, Hamill’s line was continuing wrapped around with estimated wait times of 2+ hours and 5,000+ visitors eager to meet their favorite Jedi. Everyone seemed happy and upbeat so you can’t ask for anything more.
Other guests included William Shatner, Felicity Jones, Kevin Conroy, Tara Strong, Michael Rooker, Nolan North, Jason Isaacs, Vic Mignogna, Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Ryan Hurst, Theo Rossi, Troy Baker, Ricky Whittle, Pablo Schreiber, Jess Harnell, Jim Cummings, Rob Paulsen, Tress MacNeille, Walter Jones and David Yost
Remember, Autograph Alley isn’t the only place to get to meet and greet celebrities. Throughout the show floor there are many booths where you can meet stars. And if you’re interested in meeting your favorites from Marvel, make sure to visit their booth first thing to not only get the signing schedule but get your tickets for those limited cast signings that take place throughout the weekend.
As always, respect the wishes of the talent. If they say no photos at the table, please honor that. It will make both yours and their experience that much better.
In other news…
I noticed that there were several more interactive experiences this year. Some of my favorites was the Justice League VR game in which you pick a hero you want to play as and with the proper instruction, you find yourself doing battle against all kinds of villains. I myself played as Wonder Woman and had a blast. For you time and efforts, a free Justice League t-shirt was handed out. Another fun exhibit was Spider-Man: Homecoming where you pretend to be Peter Parker entering his bedroom which is upside down and when everything is put together it would appear that you’re hanging from the ceiling. Those were just two of my personal favorites. There were others and what was nice is that with some you could register to take part and you would get a text when your turn was coming up. This was a nice way for attendees to not wait hours on line and instead enjoy other aspects of the convention.
Outside locations such as the Hammerstein and Madison Square Garden were utilized again for additional panels and screenings. As well as having BookCon take place at the same time. All of these were all first come, first served and no clearing was needed.
I talked about a lot of the improvements that were made over the past year but like any other event of such size, there are areas that should be looked at for future cons. A common complaint from attendees was the lack of celebrity guests when you compare it to other conventions like the one in Rhode Island and a new one called Ace coming into the local area in December. Their guest list seems to reflect current films whereas NYCC is a mixture. What goes into securing talent is unknown to me. What I do know is that fans want to know sooner rather than later who will be attending. Many feel very disappointed when they buy tickets sight unseen and when guests are announced and later because of scheduling conflicts, need to cancel and it leaves many feeling angry and discouraged. I’m sure the team over at ReedPop does everything they can to bring the fans the best talent possible.
This year ReedPop expanded its lottery system to not only include vendors for exclusive merchandise but for additional autograph signings and main stage panels. This expansion in the lottery system had some hiccups as some fans didn’t know whether they won or not and had to email NYCC for confirmation. This is while some fans won multiple things for the same event. Things happen and to ReedPop’s credit they promptly did their best to correct the issue. I like the system and I’m sure it will be improved for next year.
As I’ve said many times before it is nearly impossible to make everyone happy. No matter how much they try, it’s just not realistic. The best approach I’ve learned after nine years of attending NYCC, is to go in with an open mind and enjoy the experience. I guarantee that in the end the good will always outweigh the bad.
My Top 10 highlights are:
10. Meeting the cast of Man of the High Castle.
9. Spending an hour with Adam Savage who for my money is a genius.
8. Meeting and chatting with Vic Mignogna from Star Trek Continues. What a wonderful and down to earth gentlemen he is.
7. Climbing the walls like Spider-Man in the Spider-Man: Homecoming exhibit.
6. StarTalk Panel with Neil deGrasse Tyson with special guest Adam Savage.
5. Meeting Michael Rooker.
4. Seeing the World Premiere of Batman vs. Two-Face with William Shatner and Burt Ward.
3. Attending the final panel of 2017 celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series with Kevin Conroy and Tara Strong.
2. Meeting Tara Strong and having her call me “Mister J” in Harley Quinn’s voice.
1. The spontaneous meeting with Luke Skywalker himself Mark Hamill on the show floor. Seeing a celebrity wanting to walk and talk to the people was so refreshing and having a chance to take a selfie with one of my idols was a memory I won’t soon forget.
May the Dork be with you,
The Dork Knight