NYCC: A Post-Game Analysis
Fifty-nine weeks ago I slammed the first two New York Comic-Cons pretty hard, so it’s only appropriate that I comment on this year’s jamboree. The previous shows were held in February, so the mere fact that people waiting in line this year didn’t have to suffer in below-freezing wind chills is, in and of itself, a vast improvement.
The show was better organized, crowd flow on Friday and Sunday was almost manageable, and the convention staff from Reed Communications (not the volunteers, who were great) drifted more towards being hospitable and informed. In fact, they were neither hospitable nor informed but you could tell that this year somebody suggested being so might be a good idea.
Saturday was pretty much the same premise as last year: “What if you tried to squeeze the entire population of Manhattan into a phone booth?” They claim attendance records were broken and that would be nice to believe, but it would be even nicer if they were at a venue where they could actually obtain enough space so that people could walk down the aisles without getting bashed in the face by an endless number of backpacks and tripped by an equal number of light sabers.
I can’t help but wonder what the show would have been like if god hadn’t helped out. Passover started Saturday and the New York metropolitan area contains a lot of religious Jews. And the pope was in for the weekend, so a lot of Catholics were attending one or another event. In fact, it looked like he was on Frank Miller’s Dark Knight panel.
To my experience, the NYCC suffered its greatest problems in their panel rooms. Panels were shifted around at the last minute, small panels would be housed in huge rooms and overflow panels would be squeezed into tiny spaces, and some of the more popular panels started nearly an hour late. On Saturday afternoon, the domino effect was virtually fatal to their schedule.
I was on one panel this year, joining ComicMix columnist / artist / mogul Michael Davis, Ormes Society founder / cartoonist Cheryl Lynn, artist Rashida Lewis, and artist / animation impresario Denys Cowan for the "Blacks In Comics" affair. I had a great time, and while I chided the show in these precincts for giving it the end-of-the-day time slot, the 7:30 starting time allowed us to run well over without endangering other panels. I experienced greater enthusiasm, better questions and an awesome sense of involvement on this panel than on most of those I’d been on in a decade. Much of the credit goes to panel host Michael Davis, who moderated with the same joie de vivre that he exhibits every Friday in his ComicMix column.
I was seated between Mr. Cowan, an old friend and collaborator ( on The Question), and Ms. Lewis, a young artist whose work is as personally fascinating as her personality. I kept on trying to sneak a look at her comic book, Sand Storm (Newave Comics) but politeness kept me at bay until the panel concluded. It was worth the wait: Rashida has what it takes to be a major comics artist, and I strongly recommend you check out her work.
Next year, the New York Comic Con will revert back to its February slot – and the first weekend in February at that. This simply sucks: walking towards the Hudson River to get to the Javis Center in winter weather is like dancing in the road show of Doctor Zhivago. Not that there’s a lot of choice: The Javits Center is what it is, and the NYCC deserves better. So does New York, a town that loves to think of itself as the greatest city in the world. If they actually mean it, they should build themselves a world-class convention center that could compete with the likes of Las Vegas and McCormick Place.
Mike Gold is the Editor-in-Chief of ComicMix. You can find his weekly column, "Whizzy’s Wazoo," here on ComicMix every Monday.