This past weekend fans of comic books, anime, and all things science fiction and fantasy flowed into the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center for New York Comic Con.
In the seven years that the ReedPOP division of Reed Elsevier’s Reed Exhibitions has run the annual extravaganza, New York Comic Con has become a major pop culture event, with an estimated attendance of 115,000 this year.
With that scale comes the attendant problems, and New York Comic Con showed signs straining at the seams. The IGN Theatre, which hosts the major movie and television panels, seats 3000 — less than half the size of the famed Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con. On Saturday, the theater had programming scheduled until 7:15 PM, yet by 2:30 PM the staff had closed the line to enter the auditorium, stating that many of the estimated 2,000 people lined up to see the evening panels for Evil Dead, “The Walking Dead,” and “Firefly” wouldn’t get in.
Yet, the difficulty of accessing the large presentations provided more time to walk around the show floor, visit Artist Alley, and stroll through through the corridors of the Javits Center to watch the parade of cosplayers. While this year’s New York Comic Con showed signs of encroaching corporate commercialism — with significant presences by traditional companies like Craftsman and Chevrolet (see Knowledge@Wharton, “Consumer Brands Go Geek at Comic Con“) — there was plenty to see in the traditional Comic Con domain of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.
Some of the most enjoyable moments at Comic Con are found not in the scheduled programming but, rather, in the unplanned moments. While crossing the Javits Center atrium heading to Artist Alley, I encountered a small crowd gathering as Coheed and Cambria appeared to perform a short acoustic set. Moments before, Coco Austin strolled past, adorned in her regalia as Cleo from Gekido. On the show floor, as I approached the Vanguard Productions booth to speak with Jim Steranko, artist Dave Gibbons walked up to chat with Steranko.
As Woody Allen is reported to have said, “80 percent of success is showing up.” And so it is with Comic Con. Despite the crowds, the lines, the missed opportunities. There’s a sense that you just have to be there to share in the experience, and to encounter these moments of serendipity.
Here are highlights from the 244 photos in my Flickr account from New York Comic Con 2012:
Spotlight session on comic book writer and playwright Grant Morrison at New York Comic Con 2012.
Illustrator Dave Gibbons chats with Jim Steranko in the Vanguard Productions booth on the show floor.
The “Joe Simon Memorial Celebration” at New York Comic Con 2012 with Angelo Torres, Paul Levitz. Dave Gibbons, Jim Simon, Emily Simon, and moderator Steve Saffel.
Comic book creators: artists, writers, and editors.
Cosplay — costumed characters at New York Comic Con 2012.