My mission this year at the New York Comicon was to meet Greg Capullo. I failed miserably, in part due to the NYCC mobile app being all but useless and because there were 125,000 people pressed hip to shoulder inside the Javits Center. Navigating the crowd became the featured activity, seconded by finding an empty piece of wall to slump against for a few minutes. Waiting in line for the restroom was the third. But, that’s a convention. The crowds are part and parcel of the experience. If you’re averse to being sandwiched between strangers for longer than a minute or being poked in the eye by someone’s homemade sword, a con isn’t for you. A convention has a lot more to offer than a lethal cocktail of body odour, though.
This is why I go to cons. I want to meet the authors and the artists. I love chatting to them about their work, from inspiration to perspiration. Where they get their ideas and how they perfect their techniques — from learning to use a drawing tablet to hammering out a plot point. I enjoy telling an artist or writer what I enjoy about their work and seeing that flash of ‘Yes! She gets it!’ That would be gratifying, wouldn’t it? It also makes a difference if you are familiar with their work. It’s a much better conversation than, “Hi, no idea who you are, but I saw a line for a free signed copy of your book and I had room left in my backpack for one more”.
This year, I had the pleasure of meeting Nick Dragotta, the artist for East Of West and Jason M. Hough, the author of The Darwin Elevator. Both of their names were on my list and their autographing events were high priorities. I plowed through crowds half an hour in advance for each and then milled outside the booth like a stalker waiting for the queue to form. I was unashamed in either case. I wanted to meet these people!
Both were absolutely lovely and very easy to talk to. Both were obviously thrilled to meet a fan who had read and loved their work and I was equally thrilled to walk away with signed copies their books, both of which I had reviewed favourably.
There were many other authors (book and comic book) and artists scheduled to meet their fans and give away signed samples of their work. Most were listed in the planner, but some were last minute drop ins, which makes scheduling your day a bit of a nightmare. Best bet is to visit publisher’s sites and blogs to get their autographing/giveaway schedule.
For those with less specific goals and the patience to push through the crowds two hours in advance of an event, there were entertainment guests like Sir Patrick Stewart, Kellan Lutz, Liam McIntyre, Gillian Anderson and so on (full list of guests available at NYCC website). I would have loved to have glimpsed Sir Pat, but getting anywhere near the main stage was akin to an expedition to the peak of Everest. I didn’t have enough sandwiches in the BatPack for that one. I really wanted to meet Kellan Lutz, too. I had even worked out what I would say, so as not to make an idiot of myself. But his panel wasn’t until late and conventions are tiring. And I’m old.
There is a lot more to a comic convention than comics. Usually there are toys, electronics, publishers of speculative fiction, the big game companies, independent game companies and publishers and a lot of peripheral industries. Comic distributers, websites for gamers, clothing and fan made merchandise for everything. Even cookies.
But being a comic convention, art is a huge component and artist alley is always a destination that requires hours or possibly even a day. I spent a total of three hours in artist alley and I covered maybe half of it and not in the depth I would have liked. Still, I did meet some fabulous artists and when I left, only a single dollar remained in my wallet. The artist I spent the most time with was Livio Ramondelli. I was not familiar with his work before this convention, but this picture caught my eye as I passed his booth.
We got to chatting and quickly discovered we were both fans of BioWare games. The obligatory Mass Effect 3 ending conversation took place and we did not have to agree to disagree! We both loved the endings and the concept of the entire game. He did not have any ‘Mass Effect’ art on display, which is a shame as I probably would have bought all of it. I did buy a Transformer’s poster, though, as well as the Star Wars picture above.
Take look at his site. He has an impressive list of credits.
I also chatted with artist Daniel Govar who loves to paint the dragons from Naomi Novik’s ‘Temeraire’ books. Pictured below is Temeraire, himself.
He had two versions of this piece, the one I’ve linked here and a full colour one. I love the Japanese/ink wash feel of this one. It’s going to look great on my dining room wall, next to the other dragon pictures I’ve bought at other conventions.
Daniel also has an impressive list of comics and book covers on his website.
I met a lot of other artists and bought many other fabulous sketches and paintings, including a great depiction of Batman by Jason Metcalf.
Which brings me to the comics. You couldn’t turn around in the convention hall without tripping over a comic, a comicbook character or the aforementioned homemade swords…and more impressive cosplay, as pictured left. If you like to dress up for a con or look at the costumes of others, Sunday is the day. It’s Kid’s Day and I felt out of place dressed as myself. Sunday also features a lot of comic book giveaways.
The two publishers I spent the most time at were Image Comics and Dark Horse which was right next to the Nintendo space and therefore extremely crowded. With the release of Pokemon X and Y, the Nintendo space was NUTS for the entire convention. I have a daughter who is a huge Pokemon fan, so I had to push my way through that crowd more than once. Luckily, a slice of sanity was right next door.
I like Dark Horse comics, primarily because they publish The Dragon Age and Mass Effect comics and also handle the art books for both series. On Sunday, I got to meet Mac Walters, lead writer for the Mass Effect games, and that was a delight. I enthused about the series and told him Mass Effect 3 was my favourite game. He looked suitably pleased! When asked about my favourite character from the games, I nominated Jack, which seemed to surprise him.
My husband lined up for his minute with Mac (which included a signed Mass Effect Foundation preview comic) and when he mentioned his wife (I have an Australian accent and am therefore memorable), Mac remembered me as The Big Fan! I might have gushed a little. But I love the games and everything to do with them, so why not? It’s why I bought a ticket and trekked into the city to rub shoulders with 125,000 other people after all.
I also got my hands on a real live actual copy of Dan Luvisi’s book ‘L.M.S: Last Man Standing: Killbook Of A Bounty Hunter‘. I was absolutely floored. It is GORGEOUS. A thing of beauty. If you are in anyway familiar with Dan Luvisi’s work, this book is a must buy. It’s huge and fully illustrated. It’s actually hard to believe one guy is responsible for the entire thing.
I have a digital review copy of L.M.S. (which I will post about in November), but actually getting to see the real thing was great.
Image Comics also had a great booth with posters of my favourite two comics, Saga and East Of West and prominently featured.
So that’s it, the highlights of my experience of the New York Comic Convention 2013. Despite being disappointed some of the larger game publishers weren’t there (Bethesda, BioWare), I have to say it was the most fun con yet. Certainly the largest. I’m looking forward to next year.
(Edited from the original article written for and posted at SFCrowsnest.)