Martha Thomases: Pop Goes New York
The occasion was the first Special Edition NYC, held last weekend at New York City’s Javitz Center. Now, the Javitz Center is one of my least favorite places, noisy at the best of times, somehow both isolated from the city and yet frequently jammed with people. I especially haven’t enjoyed the Reed shows there because they get far more people than the space was designed to serve, resulting in lines for the bathrooms that can take over an hour. At those times, I am grateful that I can no longer be pregnant.
Special Edition was different from NYCC (which, for the record, stands for New York Comic-Con) in that it was only about comics. No movies. No television. No games. Just comics. It’s a much smaller show, taking up just the northernmost part of the center. The panels, of course, were all the way at the southernmost part of the center, a distance of about four city blocks, or 1/5 of a mile.
My first impression on walking in was that it was so pleasant. I arrived on Saturday a bit after noon (doors opened at 10 AM), and there were groups of people walking in, but in a relaxed manner, because they weren’t being jammed together against their will. The security people checking badges were smiling and helpful, directing us down the corridor to the main room.
And then I walked onto the floor. The front half of the room had dealers and a few publishers (the largest, I think, being Valiant). The back half of the room was Artists Alley.
Artists Alley is my favorite part of the show. As someone who loves comics, its exciting for me to meet the people who create them. This show had a good mix of new (to me) people and respected veterans. The longest line I saw was for Jerry Ordway.
On Saturday, I didn’t get to any panels, although I had hoped to see this one. I commend Reed on hosting a panel on this topic, which is a tad more sophisticated than the usual “Women in Comics” cliches.
One reason I didn’t get to the panels on Saturday (besides my personal inertia) is that the panel rooms were not well marked. Despite having well-trained and helpful staff at the main room, it was difficult to find anyone to give directions to the panel rooms.
My favorite part was seeing Howard Chaykin, a man on whom I’ve had a schoolgirl crush for at least 35 years. The only other person in the business at whom I gush in the same adolescent manner is Kyle Baker who, alas, was not at the show. Howard was kind enough to put up with my fawning, and even recommended some books I might like to read.
It seemed to me that there was a smaller percentage of cosplayers at this show, and those that were there were mostly on-theme (in that they were dressed as comic book characters, not Doctor Who or Walking Dead). I also had a sense that there were fewer people behaving like creeps, not only to cosplayers but also to women and girls at the show. If I were to speculate (and I’m about to), I would guess that the assholes who attend the bigger shows are drawn to the movies, the TV shows, etc. and not to comics. Comics require the ability to read, and people who read, especially fiction, must occasionally consider the possibility that other people have feelings.
Or maybe the show wasn’t on their radar. This was the only hype I saw in the mainstream press.
I look forward to seeing how Special Edition New York develops. It is a great reminder of the fun and friendliness of comic books.