Television, Movies, Comic Books, and Immersive Marketing at NYCC
New York Comic Con, organized by the Relx Goup’s ReedPop, once again featured a rich array of pop culture activities during the four-day fan fest.
A number of outlets reported a record high attendance of 200,000. A change in the way tickets were allocated this year, however, makes comparisons to previous year’s attendance uncertain. [For more, see: “Comic Con Attendance: Numbers, Numbers, and Numbers.”]
Yet, by any measure, New York Comic Con is an enormous enterprise. The event outgrew the confines of the Javits Center several years ago and now holds sessions at a number of additional venues around the city, including the Hammerstein Ballroom, the Theater at Madison Square Garden, and Hudson Mercantile.
The event sold out, although not instantly. While tickets for the popular weekend days sold briskly, the announcement that tickets for Thursday were sold out didn’t appear until just one day prior.
Here is an overview of New York Comic Con from my perspective, with links to additional photo galleries. [Click on the thumbnail images to view.]
TV, Movie, and Podcast Panels
In recent years New York Comic has excelled in presenting high-profile television panels. This year was no exception.
The Amazon Prime Video panel for The Man in the High Castle and a new anthology series, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, brought together actors and creators from the two series, including producers Michael Dinner, Ronald D. Moore, David Kanter, Isa Dick Hackett, and Eric Overmyer; director Dan Percival; and actors Liam Cunningham, Rufus Sewell, Alexa Davalos, and Jason O’Mara; in a session moderated by Deadline‘s Dominic Patten.
The “Netflix Presents Black Mirror” panel featured the show’s producers, Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones, who talked about their inspiration for the series and plans for the upcoming season. The lively session was moderated by actor/director Jodie Foster, who directed one of the episodes in the new season.
Writer Grant Morrison was featured on the panel for SYFY’s upcoming adaptation of his comic book Happy! along with actor Christopher Meloni, writer/director Brian Taylor, writer Patrick MacManus, and moderator Brian Truitt from USA Today.
The panel for Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan featured showrunner Carlton Cuse, actors John Krasinski and Abbie Cornish, and producer Graham Roland, moderated by IGN’s Terri Schwartz.
While many panels featured television properties, other sessions focused on forthcoming movies.
The upcoming film Professor Marston and the Wonder Women explores Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston and his relationship with the two main women in his life: his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston and his romantic partner Olive Byrne. Fandango’s Tiffany Smith moderated the panel with the film’s writer/director Angela Robinson and actors Rebecca Hall and Luke Evans.
There was a moment of drama during the Q&A session when pop culture writer Dr. Travis Langley questioned the evidence of the film’s portrayal of a romantic relationship between Elizabeth Marston and Olive Byrne. Robinson responded that, in light of facts that she viewed as open to interpretation, she chose to tell her interpretation of the story. [For more details on the exchange, see Langley’s Psychology Today article “‘The True Story’ of Wonder Woman’s Marston Ménage à Trois“]
In addition to television and movie properties, podcasting was also in evidence with Jesse David Fox recording a podcast with actor and comedian Wyatt Cenac in the session, “Good One: A Podcast About Jokes Live! With Special Guest Wyatt Cenac.”
Comic Book Panels
In addition to the television and motion picture panels, New York Comic Con also included a broad selection of comic book panels, including several celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of artist and writer Jack Kirby.
“Jack Kirby’s 100th Birthday Celebration with IDW!” included noted writer/artists John Byrne and Wal Simonson, who were joined by IDW President Greg Goldstein and CCO Chris Ryall to honor the work of the famed comics creator.
Marvel Editor Tom Brevoort, was joined by historian and podcaster Greg Young, comics journalist Meg Downey, and comics writer Brandon Montclare for a discussion on how Kirby’s work was influenced by the city of his birth in the panel “Celebrating 100 Years of Jack Kirby: The King’s New York.”
Over at the Hudson Mercantile, authors Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jason Reynolds talked about their influences writing for Marvel’s Black Panther and Miles Morales characters.
The panel session on Dark Horse Comics’ imprint Berger Books, headed by the noted former Vertigo editor Karen Berger, featured images and conversation on the publisher’s upcoming titles. On the panel were Karen Berger, Richard Bruning, Ann Nocenti, Anthony Bourdain, Joel Rose, José Villarrubia, and Dave Gibbons.
Dr. Sheena Howard, Janice Chiang, Karen Green, and Amy Chu presented the panel “Women in Comics: Celebrating Over 100 Years.”
BOOM! Studios and GLAAD presented “The Future is LGBTQ” panel with creators
Brooke Allen, Mariko Tamaki, Gabby Rivera, James Tynion IV, Shadi Petosky, and Steve Orlando; and GLAAD’s Megan Townsend; moderated by Vulture.com’s Abraham Riesman.
A large contingent from Mad Magazine’s “usual gang of idiots” celebrated the history of the popular humor magazine in the “Mad about MAD” panel. The session included moderator John Ficarra with Sam Viviano, Al Jaffee, Nick Meglin, Dick DeBartolo, Mark Fredrickson, Teresa Burns Parkhurst, Joe Raiola, and Charlie Kadau.
It can be argued that most of what takes place at a comics fest is, at its core, marketing. From the comics publishers and studios hosting panels to the creators in Artist Alley, much of the focus is on raising awareness for a product. This is particularly true of the booths on the exhibition hall floor and, increasingly, the large-scale “offsite” events happening outside the convention hall (and, in many cases, not officially affiliated with the convention).
One of the most impressive marketing experiences in the exhibition hall was Amazon Prime Video’s The Tick: Dangerboat, a full-scale reconstruction of the show’s watercraft for fans to explore.
The large, immersive marketing experiences, known in the industry as “activations,” took place outside the convention center.
Westworld: The Experience, which debuted at San Diego Comic-Con this past summer, came to New York this year. The exclusive event — open to only 120 participants each day — allowed fans to enter the Westworld universe, interacting with the show’s synthetic “hosts” and enjoying several rounds of drinks at the Mariposa Saloon. Unlike last year’s Westworld Experience at New York Comic Con, which was built around a virtual reality simulation, this year’s event consisted of live actors interacting with fans in detailed physical recreations of settings from the show. [For a more detailed account, see: “The Westworld Experience at New York Comic Con.”]
USA Network’s Mr. Robot brought an extensive marketing campaign to New York Comic Con, with a presence in the Javits Center and multiple offsite events. Inside the Javits Center, fans who signed up for an account with the show’s Bank of E received small gifts including Bank of E branded sunglasses, key ring, and credit card holder, along with an fsociety pin. Once a Bank of E member, additional opportunities for perks are available online.
The centerpiece of Mr. Robot‘s presence during New York Comic Con was the Ecoin launch party on Thursday evening at Terminal 5. The event featured drinks, hors d’oeuvres, live music, and a keynote address by E Corp CEO Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer). There were many surprises, some occurring in plain sight and others hidden behind the scenes for those who discovered the clues.
For a detailed write-up of the Mr. Robot experiences, including the immersive alternate reality game at the Ecoin lunch party, see: “Mr. Robot’s Multifaceted Marketing Experience at New York Comic Con.”
Creators and Cosplayers
New York Comic Con has historically had an outstanding assemblage of comics creators in the show’s Artist Alley. That was true once again this year although, due to construction in the Javits North Hall, Artist Alley was moved from its traditional location to a smaller, more crowded space with less photography-friendly lighting.
Nonetheless, the show was brimming with noteworthy comics creators both in Artist Alley and at panel sessions.
And, as at all comic fests, cosplayers were prevalent strolling through the corridors of the Javits Center and posing outside in the parking lot.
As rain drizzled down on the Javits Center on Sunday, another New York Comic Con came to a close.
For the gallery of photos from this year’s New York Comic Con, see: New York Comic Con 2017.