New York Comic Con: The Brain-Dump Roundup
Here we are, two days after the beast that is New York Comic Con settled back into hibernation, and all that’s left of the big show are piles of discarded promo cards, comics with dinosaurs fighting tanks, and a bunch of skrull masks missing their rubber-band straps. Welcome to my post-NYCC highlight reel, folks.
All things considered, the convention was a fine time. Sure, the bar was set pretty low when you consider the debacle of the first NYCC show, but even when one adds all of the other recent conventions to the frame of reference, this year’s NYCC fared pretty well. With a few exceptions, it felt like just the right level of crowd — not packed to an uncomfortable San Diego Comic-Con level, but not the empty, depressing little ghost towns of Wizard World Texas and Philadelphia. The creators I spoke with seemed happy about the show, too. They weren’t hustling to cover the cost of their attendance or feeling frazzled by crowds, contradicting policies or inevitable scheduling issues that pop up at these types of events.
Friday was manageable, Saturday was tolerable and Sunday was actually somewhat relaxing. The temperature allowed attendees to dress comfortably — no winter jackets to increase the sweat level once you enter the building, and no oppressive heat outside to raise the humidity levels before you even reach the front door. The big programming dust-up on Saturday, in which a perfect storm of late-running panels and big-name guests prompted the convention staff to close the panel area for a short time, was the only major problem I had with the show — and only because it made me slightly late to the panel I planned to attend.
In ComicMix HQ (a.k.a. Conference Room #10), the vibe cycled from loud and frantic to quiet and studious over the course of the three-day adventure, with a steady diet of bagels and caffeinated drinks to keep the ship afloat. Saturday’s coffee-and-canoli birthday cake for ComicMix VP of Corporate Communications Martha Thomases was a nice bonus, too.
There was a steady traffic of notable creators wandering in and out of the ol’ HQ, too — and many of them I was meeting for the very first time. From industry legends like Dennis O’Neil, Mark Evanier and Denys Cowan to up-and-coming creators like Joanna Estep and Andrew Pepoy, the parade of talented writers, artists and other creative types crossing the threshold of the conference room was impressive, to say the least.
At one point, I let Mark Evanier use my laptop to send out a script he had been working on that weekend. I found myself hoping that, by doing so, some of his prolific talent might find its way to the machine’s next user — namely, me. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Out on the convention floor, I found time to catch up with the good people at print houses Avatar Press, Top Cow, DC Comics and Devil’s Due Publishing, as well as Dumbrella, the webcomics collective. Avatar has big things in store for the upcoming Wizard World Chicago convention, and publisher William Christensen shared some of his plans for luring Warren "Internet Jesus" Ellis across the pond once again.
What sort of plans, you might ask? Well, all I can say is that they involve several "pallets" of Red Bull, folks. ‘Nuff said.
During one of the DC after-hours events, I spent some time catching up with writer/artist Todd Nauck, who is quite possibly the nicest person in the entire comics industry. Nauck has a busy month coming up, with his byline on at least one issue every week for a full month. It’s like his personal 52.
Nauck and I were soon joined by Teen Titans: Year One writer Amy Wolfram, and it was a real joy to see how happy she was with the series and the reception it’s received thus far.
As far as panels go, my time in the spotlight with (or possibly in the shadow of) noted comics journalists Heidi MacDonald (The Beat), Matt Brady (Newsarama), Jonah Weiland (Comic Book Resources), Brian Heater (The Daily Cross Hatch) and Richard George (IGN Comics) seemed to go over well. The big-site/small-site dynamic formed the basis for much of our "Choosing the News: The Changing Face of Online Journalism" conversation, as the unique opportunities and obstacles inherent to each environment played big roles in determining each panelist’s take on the issues. The specific topics, however, covered a wide variety of interesting subject matter, including viral marketing, contributor compensation and how to develop and differentiate your site’s identity. Our conversation could have gone on another two hours and I would not have minded it a bit. I’ve posted some images from the panel at the end of this article.
The weekend included a few humorous moments worth noting, too. On Saturday, our ComicMix TV host decided it would be a great idea to start off his interview with Hellboy star Ron Perlman by mentioning the actor’s late-’80s television series Beauty and the Beast — and without spoiling the surprise, let me just tell you that things got a bit weird. (The interview will hit the site at a later point, so keep an eye out for it.)
The location of ComicMix HQ, off a hallway between a men’s bathroom and the changing room for costumed attendees, not only provided a great seat for the parade of Slave Leias, stormtroopers and Supermen heading into the show, but also made it likely that any time nature called, the guy in the neighboring urinal would be dressed in a spandex suit. After my third or fourth trip to the bathroom, I decided that if I ever walk into a bathroom and don’t crack a smile at seeing Superman emptying his bladder, it’s time to find a new job.
Looking back on our coverage of this year’s show, though, I’m reminded of something I mentioned during Friday’s "Choosing the News" panel: There are a lot of sites out there that provide the same press releases, company announcements and panel reports as their competitors, but what really sets a site apart are the voices unique to its content — the columnists, reviewers, bloggers and feature writers (and, I’d like to think, interviewers) that form the collective voice of the site. That’s why we’re proud to have such a great pool of noted industry professionals providing exactly those types of content here at ComicMix during the New York Comic Con and on a daily basis. Whether it’s columns by John Ostrander, Dennis O’Neil or Mike Gold, reviews by Andrew Wheeler and Van Jensen, or news from Wade Gum, Chris Ullrich, Karl Cramer or any of our other talented contributors — not to mention the free, original comics by Ostrander, Tim Truman and Mike Grell — there’s a lot to see on ComicMix that you won’t find anywhere else.
So, with that in mind, here are some images from Friday’s panel, as this is as good a time as any to post them.
See you at the next convention!
Right between Kids Comics and MINX, that’s where you’ll find us…
The gang’s all there (l-r Jonah Weiland, Brian Heater, Richard George, Rick Marshall, Matt Brady, Heidi MacDonald)
(all photos courtesy of Tony Mark)