New York Comic Con 2018 Recap and Photo Highlights
This past weekend the RELX Group’s ReedPop division hosted the 13th annual New York Comic Con. It was big (and crowded), although the exact scale of the event is difficult to determine. ReedPop projected an expected attendance of 250,000, spurring another round of reports claiming the New York pop culture fest is larger than Comic-Con International’s San Diego Comic-Con, which typically states an attendance count around 130,000.
The two organizations tally attendance differently, however, making comparisons between the two meaningless. Comic-Con International counts the number of unique attendees, regardless of the number of days they attend, while ReedPop counts the number of individual tickets sold. Someone attending all four days would count as one attendee at San Diego and four at New York. In addition, New York Comic Con includes additional activities, such as Anime Fest and The Studio @ NYCC, which are separately ticketed and can thus further inflate the attendee count. [For more on the various methods used to report attendance, see “Comic Con Attendance: Numbers, Numbers, and Numbers.”]
Nonetheless, by any measure New York Comic Con 2018 was an enormous event. In addition to the Exhibition Hall, Main Stage, and panel rooms of the Jacob Javits Center, NYCC has expanded in recent years to include programming at the 5,600-seat Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden and the 2,200-seat Hammerstein Ballroom, as well as events at smaller venues such as this year’s The Studio @ NYCC.
Also new this year was the NYCC Live Stage set up in a corner of the Exhibition Hall which hosted a series of brief (typically 15-minute) interviews with guests who were also featured in other, longer panels. It’s a great concept, giving fans who may not be able to make the panel sessions the opportunity to see an array of personalities. The execution, however, left much to be desired. There were only a limited number of seats near the stage, with a crowd of standing observers blocking the view for anyone else. The noise on the show floor was a further impediment. If ReedPop can find a larger, more accommodating space for these mini-panels, the Live Stage could be a strong addition to New York Comic Con.
Below is an overview of selected highlights from New York Comic Con 2018. Click on the images to see full photo galleries of each event.
Television: Broadcast, Cable, and Streaming
While San Diego Comic-Con takes the spotlight for featuring top-flight Hollywood talent, particularly in support of major motion pictures, in recent years New York Comic Con has excelled in panels for popular television series. This year was no exception.
The Riverdale panel in the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden included showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and actors KJ Apa, Lili Reinhart, Luke Perry, and Mädchen Amick. During the session, fans learned that season 3 will introduce Gina Gershon as Jughead’s mother and Trinity Likins as his sister.
Following Riverdale, the Gotham presentation included showrunner John Stephens and cast members Chris Chalk, Donal Logue, Cory Michael Smith, Robin Lord Taylor, Camren Bicondova, David Mazouz, and Sean Pertwee. The session included a sizzle reel with highlights from past seasons along with glimpses of the upcoming fifth and final season. Stephens announced that Shane West will be joining the show in season 5 as Eduardo Dorrance who, we learned, will become the Batman nemesis Bane.
SyFy’s Happy!, which debuted at last year’s New York Comic Con, made a return visit to the Hammerstein Ballroom in a panel moderated by Michael Ausiello with executive producers Patrick Macmanus, Grant Morrison, and Brian Taylor; and cast members Medina Senghore, Christopher Meloni, Lili Mirojnick, Patrick Fischler, and Ritchie Coster.
Following Happy!, SyFy’s upcoming series Deadly Class took the stage at the Hammerstein Ballroom. Based on the graphic novel by Rick Remender and Wes Craig, the panel included both Remender and Craig, along with moderator Dominic Patten and cast members Benjamin Wadsworth, Lana Condor, María Gabriela de Faría, Luke Tennie, Liam James, and Benedict Wong. The session included an extended clip from the program’s first episode, which will air on January 16.
Comics and Creators
In addition to the Hollywood and television panels, New York Comic Con is also one of the strongest shows for comic book creators.
NYCC has long featured an excellent Artist Alley. For many years NYCC’s Artist Alley was in the Javits Center North Hall, which was both spacious and provided diffused, bright sunlight perfect for photography. Due to construction to expand the convention center, the North Hall has been closed the past two years, forcing Artist Alley to move elsewhere. Last year, it was squeezed into a cramped, poorly lit basement hall. This year, although it remained the basement, the space was much larger, with wide aisles making it easy to browse the vast array of artists’ tables.
NYCC also offered many programming sessions focused on comic books.
Danny Fingeroth moderated the panel on “1968: The Year that Changed Comics and the World!” with Denis Kitchen, Denny O’Neil, Paul Levitz, and Sean Howe. Fingeroth presented a slideshow that covered the political and social background of that turbulent year, along with highlights of key comics from 1968. The panelists, particularly Denny O’Neil, added colorful personal anecdotes about the era.
“Berger Books: The Second Wave” provided an update on the Dark Horse imprint, which held its launch panel at last year’s NYCC. Publisher Karen Berger moderated the panel with Ann Nocenti, Dean Haspiel, Martin Marazzo, Christopher Cantwell, Darin Strauss, Adam Delva, Joel Rose, Corin Howell, J.M. DeMatteis, and Richard Bruning.
In the “DC Spotlight on Geoff Johns,” Tiffany Smith interviewed the creator on upcoming plans for DC Comics characters in movies, television shows, and comic books. The session included trailers for both the Aquaman and Shazam! feature films. On the comics side, Johns showed new artwork for Doomsday Clock by Gary Frank and Shazam! by Dale Eaglesham. Artist Jason Fabok joined Johns on stage to show artwork from the upcoming The Three Jokers mini-series.
The “Archie Comics Forever: Riverdale and Beyond” panel included creators Nick Spencer, Frank Tieri, Micol Ostow, Dan Parent, Jamie L. Rotante, and Alex Segura; executives Mike Pellerito, Victor Gorelick, and Jon Goldwater; and moderator Ron Cacace. At the outset of the panel, Archie Comics President Mike Pellerito presented an award to Editor-in-Chief Victor Gorelick in honor of his 60 years at Archie Comics. Following the ceremony, Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater leaned over and bestowed an affectionate kiss on Gorelick. In the audience, the company’s other Co-CEO, Nancy Silberkleit, quietly observed the panel.
“IDW Publishing: The Big Scoop” presented upcoming titles from the publisher in a panel with Gabriel Rodriguez, Joe Hill, Michel Fiffe, Shelly Bond, and John Barber, and Vita Ayala.
The “Women of Marvel” panel included Judy Stephens, Sana Amanat, Kathleen Wisneski, Margaret Stohl, Leah Williams, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Jen Bartel. The creators discussed their upcoming projects as well as answered audience questions about opportunities and challenges in the industry.
On Sunday, “Todd McFarlane Talks Movies, Comics, and Toys” featured an hour-long solo session with the artist and entrepreneur. McFarlane gave a lively discourse including tips on success and previews of upcoming projects. Midway through the session he introduced his daughter Cyan in the audience.
Cosplay, Feedback, and a Rally
As always, there were plenty of costumed fans strolling the corridors of the Javits Center.
Sunday afternoon, representatives from ReedPop met with fans for the annual NYCC Team Q&A, the New York Comic Con version of San Diego’s Talk Back session. ReedPop Global Head Lance Fensterman, who typically moderates the session, had just become a new parent and couldn’t attend this year. ReedPop Event Director Mike Armstrong filled in for Fensterman, along with other members of the team, for a relatively easy-going session of feedback and complaints.
One of the final official NYCC activities was the Love is Our Superpower Rally held in Hudson Yards Park outside the Javits Center. Actors Chase Masterson and Robert Picardo were joined by activists, such as MomsRising Senior Vice President Monifa Bandele, to speak on issues of justice and civil liberty.
For a full gallery of images of the year’s New York Comic Con see the Flickr album: New York Comic Con 2018.