For the last eight years, I have failed in my primary mission at the New York Comic Con. I have not met Patrick Stewart or even breathed the same air as him. I have not met Greg Capullo, I couldn’t find Stephen Amell (I think I was there the wrong day) and I never get in line early enough to catch the screenings of the movies I really want to see. I got the time wrong the year and decided I needed to meet Christopher Judge. I spent one year wandering the floor looking for the BioWare booth because I’d heard David Gaider would be there.
But this is not a tale of woe. This is my write up of NYCC14 and…I didn’t have a mission this year, because every other year, despite failing to meet the stars in my eyes, I have met some amazing people. I’ve sat in on really great panels. I’ve bought way too much art, countless comicbooks and all the gimmicky bits and pieces that litter my bookshelves. Every year, I walk away with more than a handful of books, often signed by the author. Every year, I meet at least one person who makes that con memorable.
Before I get to the highlights of this year’s con, here’s what everyone else was doing:
Every year, there is a stage set aside for dancing and folks line up for an hour or more for their turn in the spotlight. When we first arrived, that light shone on two Stormtroopers dancing to ‘What Does The Fox Say’. Not sure ‘who’ that is in the middle. Either way, their performance made for great entertainment and a great introduction to the con. From there, my friends and I split up into two teams. They went in search of everything Pokémon and I ran down to the publisher booths.
Every year, the publisher presence at the con changes. When I attended the Book Expo in May, several publishers assured me that their Science Fiction and fantasy imprints would be represented at the Comic Con and they were, but not with a lot of fanfare. The booths were smaller and crowded and a lot of the author meet and greets and book signings were ticketed. The tickets didn’t cost anything, but they went quickly, leaving a lot of people shuffling up and down the length of the ‘lucky line’ trying to get a glimpse of the books on display. Not super-well organised, which is a shame. I was pleased to see the publishers drawing a good crowd despite the diminished number of giveaways, however.
I picked up three books. The first was ‘Uprooted’ by Naomi Novik, which is not due out until summer 2015. After mentioning the fact that my husband has lined up to meet Naomi every year for a signed copy of the next installment in the ‘Temeraire’ series, I received an advance copy for the price of a picture and a smile. ‘Uprooted’ is a new story with a fairy tale flavour. Yes, it includes a dragon.
I also grabbed a hardcover edition of ‘Half A King’ by Joe Abercrombie. Earlier this year, I read this book for review and loved it. I can’t wait for ‘Half The World’, which is due out next year. Even though I’ll get an ARC for it, I registered for a chance to win an actual copy because I love collecting hardcovers of my favourite novels for my library. ‘Half A King’ is definitely one of my favourites.
Finally, I grabbed a copy of ‘The Warded Man’ by Peter Brett. I missed the tickets for his signing, but they had extra copies put aside. I’ve wanted to read this one for a while, so I’ve placed it near the top of one of my TBR piles – which probably means I’ll get to it in the next ten years.
Peter Brett was also present in the one panel I attended. ‘Geek Geek Revolution’ was a game show style panel hosted by Pat Rothfuss where Science Fiction and fantasy authors compete for the chance to be top geek. Winner gets a prize, loser has to wear the Jar Jar mask. It’s a harsh price to pay for failing to be geeky enough. This year the panel included Peter Brett, Maureen Johnson, M.D. Payne, Amber Benson, Lou Anders and John Scalzi. The questions submitted by the audience were the stumpers, but there were a surprising number of flubs and stupefied silences. In between, the panel members bickered with one another and heckled the audience, all good naturedly, of course. I had a great time watching some of my favourite writers talk about something other than their own work and I imagine it was refreshing for them as well.
Never mind that head in the foreground there. I was using a camera phone which comes with no magical head cropping software.
I did not see the 3.2 million dollar comic. I’ll just put that out there first, just in case anyone was expecting that to be the most important item on my agenda. I will tell you a little about it, though. A rare first issue of ‘Superman # 1’ was available to view by appointment only on Thursday, October 9. I’m assuming that they locked it up tight after that. Can you imagine a comicbook worth over three million dollars? I can’t. Nor am I inspired to look through the tubs of old comic books we have mouldering away in the basement. I heard those shrieks of shock and horror. Trust me, there’s nothing down there worth that much money…and if there was, the damp probably already got to it.
I did pick up ‘East Of West Volume 3’‘ and is easily one of the best comicbooks I have read in years and cannot wait to dive into this installment. The story is a twist on the tale of our final judgment as imagined by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta. The four horsemen are afoot in a world that already appears post-apocalyptic. The seven seals are seven states, Death is searching for his son and the Beast is a horrible experiment in genetic manipulation. It’s great stuff. Click through to read my review of volume 1 and volume 2.
I also picked up an indie comic called ‘Skies oO Fire’, written by Vincenzo Ferriero and Ray Chou. I met the writers and quickly became infected by their enthusiasm for their project. ‘Skies Of Fire’ is an adventure comic set in a world where diesel powered airships engage in duels, dogfights and piracy. The art is absolutely gorgeous. The first issue of the mini-series comic is full colour and features over-sized panels that really showcase the story. Also included inside the front cover is a detailed map of the Aquilan Empire, designed by a qualified cartographer. I found the fact of fictional cartography as a career choice as fascinating as the map and the world it depicts. In another life, that would be me. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to reading the comic.
No Comic Con would be complete without meeting some of the artists who bring these stories to life. I didn’t spend a lot of time with the artists this year. Limited time and funds had me keeping a respectable distance from all the pretty colours, that and the fact I have yet to frame and hang last year’s purchases. My daughter and her friend did attend a Create Your Own Hero workshop, however, where they drew their own comicbook hero and got a chance to share their ideas with other artists. Incidentally, my daughter and her friend were dressed as their own characters for the trip to NYCC14, which many of the artists in attendance found engaging. (Insert proud mother moment here.)
We also had the chance to observe many artists at work, painting canvases and cars. You could try to win one of the cars.
With PAX East growing in popularity, the big game company presence at Comic Con is diminishing. The one company I might have visited – Ubisoft – had a very lacklustre booth and no opportunity to get hands on with ‘Assassin’s Creed: Unity’. They had a couple of laptops spread out where you could pre-order your copy and walk away with a postcard. That’s just not exciting. Not at all. Other companies did have demos, if you wanted to wait in line, and one of the most popular panels was Xbox One, PS4: One Year Later. You can watch that here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSSxFD-L18Y
This is the reason a lot of people get excited about cons. Wearing costumes, seeing costumes. Having their picture taken with someone dressed up as your favourite, second favourite and absolute favourite characters. With the character you can’t identify but think is pretty darned cool, with the character you won’t admit to liking publically, but now there’s a picture of you and he/she/it on Facebook.
Because I attended the con on Friday instead of Saturday and Sunday this year, I actually got the opportunity to see more of the costumes. NYCC sells out every year or has for the last few. Attendance on the weekends can top a hundred and twenty thousand. That’s a LOT of people and it makes it very difficult to see everything. Lines for game demos, dancing and meet and greets are long and sweaty and all those home-made swords are a health hazard. On Friday, however, the crowd is thinner and less rabid. The ratio of costume to geek shirt is more even.
On our way out, we saw a lot of cosplayers relaxing in one of the lower courtyards and my friend took the opportunity to snap a last photo.
For more pictures of the costumes and the con, visit NYCC on Instagram: http://instagram.com/newyorkcomiccon
(Posted edited from a convention review written for SFCrowsnest.