Every year just before fall, it seems midtown New York is congested with swarms of exuberant, costume-clad nerds. There is nothing funnier than watching a portly version of ‘Skeletor’ navigate his way through a bustling Times Square. The reason for this is that New York Comic Con (NYCC) is underway. NYCC has been running for almost 10 years now and is growing exponentially with each event. It has become an entertainment bonanza with panels, exhibits, autographing, artists and events all under the Javits Convention Center roof. This was my second NYCC and having metDoctor Who’s Colin Baker, Stan Lee and William Shatner last year, I was excited to see what would happen this time.
As part of New York Super Week there were other events going on in the city and I bought tickets to see a Star Trek: The Next Generation reunion compèred by William Shatner. It was a fantastic panel with the entire crew present (bar Jonathan Frakes) and Shatner was on razor-sharp form. His phony bewilderment about Captain Picard being kidnapped by the Kardashians (as opposed to the ‘Cardassians’) was just delightful. There were many anecdotes and stories and a personal favorite was Patrick Stewart telling how he drove his new car to the set in LA and complained to the cast thinking it was faulty, having no idea there had been a big earthquake.
For Comic Con itself, I was only able to purchase a Sunday ticket, which should have been an indication of what was to come. Sales were through the roof (attendance for 2014 was over 150,000) and you could really feel it walking around the show floor. I arrived at 10am precisely and headed straight for the Karate Kid Reunion panel. Unfortunately arriving an hour early is no longer enough time as it was already full to capacity. I changed my plans and went to queue up for the Lost Reunion panel but that had unfortunately been cancelled. My final option was to wait in line for the 12pm Doctor Who panel, but guess what? That was full to capacity and I was unable to get in there either. Having spent a few hours essentially lining up for no reason, I was a little put off by the whole event. I felt bad for the guy behind me who (in perfect “Tom Baker” garb) had come from Boston for this specific panel. He left, mopping up his tears with his extra long scarf as he was denied entry too. What was interesting was that whilst I was waiting I got the time to chat to fellow attendees. They all agreed that things had gotten out of hand –apparently some people had been sleeping out on the streets to be the first inside to get wristbands for the popular panels. I found this all a bit ridiculous and very different from last year where I could walk into any panel I wanted to during my day. One reason might have been that the panels were pretty sparse this year compared to last year where there seemed to be an abundance of choice and plenty of high profile guests.
I decided to wander around the autographing section, which seemed more like a cattle market. Long, penned-off queuing corridors were daubed with the celebrity’s name and the cost to receive their autograph. I found it quite amusing that each celebrity had a value. $60 for Gillian Anderson! $44 for Marina Sirtis! $20 for Cary Elwes, but you had to buy his book, which seemed like quite a harsh punishment. Maybe next year you’ll have to buy two of his books to get his autograph. I have to admit, I did crack and get my picture taken with the Karate Kid cast for an amount that shall remain my secret, but was totally worth it to me. I suppose that is the point of the autographing business; people are willing to pay for a little piece of memorabilia that is important to them.
The exhibition floor was a bit like Grand Central Station on a holiday eve, except everywhere you looked there were fascinating costumes and nerdy things to buy. It was really, really busy there. If you wanted to get from one side to the other, it would take about half an hour. I did make it all of the way round however and there were some great exhibits. The BBC Doctor Who exhibit was there (as before) as well as all the big name brands; Marvel, Bandai, Nintendo, Lego, Walking Dead for example. There were plenty of toy exclusives and I was happy to see both Ted DiBiase (Million Dollar Man) and Hacksaw Jim Duggan from WWF circa 1980’s.
I also ran into the Glass Eye Pix guys who I have worked with in the past. I did one of my first visual effects jobs for them supplying CGI bats for Ti West’s horror flick The Roost (2005). I also had a small acting role in my friend Glenn McQuaid’s I Sell the Dead (2007). They make some great independent horror movies and it was nice to see them doing so well.
The merchandise and artwork on display in the exhibitors hall always fascinates me and there is always something I usually want to buy, but this year I simply enjoyed walking around and looking at the various costumes people were wearing. Some stand out examples were: a Groot costume, Mortal Kombat cast and a perfect Penguin from the Tim Burton era Batman.
Overall I did enjoy NYCC but if I am going to attend next year I will need to get the 4-day pass and go when things aren’t quite so busy. Even though I didn’t get to see any panels, it was still a lot of fun and worth going to be amongst fans, check out the entertainment merchandise and get that oh so exclusive Karate Kid picture.