Special Edition NYC Focuses on Comics

Special Edition: NYC in Javits North

ReedPop Provides a Summer Prologue to Fall’s New York Comic Con

Competing for the attention of comic book fans in the New York area this past weekend were three pop culture events. In addition to New York Comic Fest in White Plains and Eternal Con in Garden City, ReedPop, a unit of Reed Elsevier’s Reed Exhibitions, expanded their portfolio of popular culture shows with the inaugural Special Edition: NYC.

In contrast to the New York Comic Con ReedPop hosts each fall — which includes the full range of pop culture topics including movies and television programs — Special Edition: NYC is focused on comic books. “New York Comic Con has grown to include so much more than comic books,” Lance Fensterman, ReedPOP’s Global Senior Vice President stated in a press release. “Special Edition: NYC will give comic book fans an intimate destination to meet with publishers and special guests.”

And, compared to the New York Comic Con, it was intimate, indeed.

A study in contrasts: The corridors of the Javits Center during Special Edition: NYC (left) and New York Comic Con (right).

While New York Comic Con takes over the entire Javits Convention Center and attracts a reported 130,000 attendees, Special Edition: NYC was chiefly housed in Javits North, the space that holds Artist Alley in the larger fall event. Special Edition: NYC also offered two tracks of panels which, for some reason, were held at the farthest southern section of the convention center. Some panels were forced to begin late to allow presenters time to make the long trek from the show floor to the panel room.

Heading out of the bustling Javits North to pass through the vacant corridors of the Javits Center toward the panel rooms was an eerie experience, particularly in contrast to crammed chaos of New York Comic Con.

Because I went to New York Comic Fest on Saturday, I was only able to attend the second of the two days of Special Edition: NYC. That day’s panel sessions included:

The Valiant Comics panel.

The Valiant Comics panel with Dinesh Shamdasani, Warren Simons, Josh Johns, Joe Harris, Robert Gill, and Alejandro Arbona, moderated by Hunter Gorinson.

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The “DC Comics: Batman 75th Anniversary” panel.

DC Comics: Batman 75th Anniversary” with Gail Simone, James Tynion IV, Greg Pak, and Francis Manapul, and moderated by John Cunningham.

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The stars of the show: comic book writers and artists.

A moderate amount of cosplay was in evidence, although nothing approaching the costumed mania of the larger shows or the well-established regional comic cons. The centerpiece of the event was the array of comic book writers and artists on the show floor, including Howard Chaykin, Francesco Francavilla, Chris Claremont, Gail SimoneKurt Busiek, Greg Pak, Sara Pichelli, and many others.

By all accounts, Sunday was the slower of the two days of the event. Vendors I spoke with gave varying accounts of how they fared at the show. Sales were “fair to middling” as reported by one merchant and “good” according to another. One vendor characterized the crowd as “slow but steady” throughout the two days. Another described the show as “a one-day event stretched into two days.”

While one could view some of these comments as signs we are reaching the saturation point of pop culture mania, these events show no signs of slowing down. Indeed, ReedPop recently announced plans to expand this fall’s New York Comic Con into a weeklong pop culture celebration dubbed New York Super Week. In collaboration with bars, restaurants and retailers throughout the city, the celebration will include concerts, comedy shows, gaming events, lectures, and food tastings during the week of October 3-12, 2014 — and, presumably, around 130,000 people flooding into the Javits Center for the four days of New York Comic Con.

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