The Winners and Losers of New York Comic Con 2018
New York Comic Con 2018 has been and gone and while mentally you may have moved on, there’s still a few minutes to give the Winners and Losers of Con as chosen by the Elite Beat Staff for NYCC.
WINNER: New York Comic Con
Yes, it was crowded, yes, there was no place to go to the bathroom, yes, the logistics were often exasperating, but as more than one person told us separately, there was still so much joy at the show; people dressing up and seeing their idols, whether in comics or from TV. Far more than the collector-minded crowd at SDCC, New York’s fans are just that – fans, young and passionate. Despite all the commercialism, there was genuine happiness and self-expression of the best kind.
LOSER: New York Comic Con
Okay, but the bathrooms. Were women not allowed out in public in the 70s so there were not enough stalls? The lines at the woman-dominated BEA are also long, but not 40 minutes. You did not enjoy the go.
Also, so many little logistical things about the show are annoying, from the outdated Speaker’s Manual that says to bring a VGA converter (a long outmoded technology even at the creaky Javits where it’s now HDMI all the way) to the lack of names on badges (even though they are now pre activated with ALL YOUR PERSONAL INFO on them.) And all the branding and activating and data mining. These young fans are ripe to be marketed to and that’s often gross.
WINNER: The Harvey Awards
Sorta. The actual event was about a solid B with great presenters (although one forgot to announce the nominees in their category, oops) and another who couldn’t pronounce Jeff Lemire’s name. There was also zero promotion for the event, and many other behind the scenes snafus. Still, a 45 minute long awards ceremony is a thing to be treasured in this day and age. But not enough food for an 8:30 start time!
LOSER: Anime Fest @ NYCC x Anime Expo
The hard to remember name should tell you this is a hybrid cash grab. I’m in a tough spot here since I’m friends with ReedPOP and Leftfield’s Greg Topalian and Peter Tatara, who throw next month’s Anime NYC event. Topalian and Tatara used to work for ReedPOP and this is clearly a con war. AF@NYCCxAX was announced a few months ago to fill the Anime/Manga void that Anime NYC had begun filling. This is a pretty common Reed Exhibitions maneuver: they ditch an event when it isn’t profitable (in this case the old New York Anime Festival which ReedPOP used to put on) and when someone jumps in to put on their own event in the abandoned space Reed suddenly gets all territorial.
In this case, the show was very problematic. ReedPOP announced 18,000 ticket sales, which if you divide by four is 4500 a day. There was also the matter of the announced sellout on Saturday.
— Anime Fest @ NYCC (@AnimeFestNYCC) October 6, 2018
I was there at peak times Saturday and it was no way crowded. It’s nice that they allowed a more open and inviting show floor but it still seems weird that all these sellouts were announced.
This is the dashcon level we’re at folks pic.twitter.com/XYJhmjbQTr
— crowley: crowley (@FRAXlNUS) October 5, 2018
That said, Anime News Network has another theory:
The event’s less expensive Anime Fest badges allowed access to New York Comic-Con programming in addition to what was available at the Pier 94 location, leading to some speculation that attendees were snatching them up to see things like the Dreamworks Voltron: Legendary Defender panel, the Dragon Ball Super: Broly film panel, or the RWBY and gen:LOCK Mega Panel in the Hulu Theater. Single day tickets for Anime Fest were priced at US$20-25 compared to a NYCC ticket for US$50-55. NYCC tickets and Anime Fest tickets were sold separately.
This makes sense. Pier 92/94’s max capacity is 7000 people– given the huge, drafty, dystopian layout, I’d have a hard time saying that 7000 people were there when I attended. But I’ll let the very vocal anime community work this one out. I will say that at Sunday’s talk back, complaints about AF@NYCCxAX were very loud and vivid. (HM)
People may not be clamoring for a new line of superhero comics, but the diversity focused roll out with a lineup of both fresh and veteran creators got just the right kind of buzz going.
LOSER: DC Comics
Maybe it’s just New Yorker’s general affinity for party hopping via cab, Lyft or on foot, and drinking, drinking and drinking, but the party scene at NYCC seems more congenial than the SDCC version. In San Diego, the party scene is almost entirely exclusive Hollywood fetes, and crashing them is best left to pros and Instagram influencers. Comics folks are left to hang out in various hotel bars – it’s fun but crowded and often loud.
The NYCC parties were crowded, but they were often just who you wanted to see, and they are starting to give SDCC a run for its money as far as rooftops go. The Harveys, Lion Forge, Aftershock, Webtoon, Skybound and the CBLDF all threw great bashes and there were a few private ones as well. Marvel’s traditional party has gotten more exclusive, but it’s still a place to see European pals. I definitely caught up with more friends in New York than I did in San Diego, and the gatherings had that “anyone could be here” vibe that marks a good social scene. (HM)
WINNER: Cosplay Headquarters
Cosplayers had a dedicated space for wardrobe change and panels. Not everyone knew about it from the get-go and a lot of people still took to bathrooms to change, but the idea was certainly appreciated. Better communication, with signs, next time.
Extremely cool to be told by a badge scanner at NYCC that I have “a nice chest, nice arms, and nice face” while he grabbed my arm and stared down my shirt. Fuck right off.
— Meg Downey (@rustypolished) October 6, 2018
Loser: The really rude security staff. One of the exhibition floor security bosses was really nasty to me when I politely asked if I could go to the booth of a comic publisher to get a phone charger I’d left there just after the floor had closed. He questioned if I was actually press twice while I was holding out my press badge, then asked repeatedly who my contacts were at the booth and insisted on escorting me. He told me my press badge was “no better than a regular con badge” and when I said “ok” he replied: “don’t give me attitude I’m doing you a favor.”
WINNER: Shirtless Kevin Conroy
After moderator Gary Miereanu gifted him a Batman shirt with his name on it that prompted Conroy to put in on in the middle of the Batman: TAS Blu-Ray panel.
WINNER: Wakanda Forever!
Black Panther still as popular as ever and cosplay presence may be stronger than SDCC. Think I saw more Killmongers than Black Panthers. My friend remarked that Killmonger is the new Deadpool cosplay. Shuri also reached mainstream similar to same level as Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel and Squirrel Girl.
WINNER: A Somewhat Cozier Artist Alley
The change of location for Artist Alley made getting to your favorite creators a more pleasant experience. Last year made you feel like you had to plan an expedition, with rations to spare for safety, to get there. A cleaner and easier route made for a better experience.
LOSER: Lines blocking other booths
On more than one occasion, lines of people trying to get autographs in Artist Alley or pictures with guests on the show floor blocked access to booths that paid just like everyone else to show their work. In Artist Alley, the main problem was that too many big names were bunched up together, and lines snaked around other booths. Creators were visibly upset. Maybe next time try to think about strategic placement for certain creators to open up the floor.
LOSER: In The Shadow of Funko
Funko had another year of vinyl figure chaos as people who were on the line for their pops reported being harassed by other people who couldn’t get into the booth to buy figures for them. Money was being flung around and, according to reports, security was sorely lacking in preventing the experience from going sour for badge holders that got there fair and square.
WINNER: The MTA
New York’s Transit System was able to have another exit/entrance for the Javits stop, helping with the crowd congestion as people don’t have to crunch in and take a 60 second escalator ride up from the 2 level of Hell.
LOSER: The MTA
On probably the busiest weekend of the Javits Center, the MTA decides to do signal work on tracks that can’t be more than five years old and then have shuttle buses without clear signage on where they pick up passengers.
WINNER: The 8-Foot She-Ra Statue On the Show Floor
LOSER: The MTA, Always
– Super 7: This San Francisco-based brand make the raddest licensed merch and apparel you never thought anyone would put together, including the only new She-Ra figures so far
- Carla Speed McNeil & Yanick Paquette: two of the best designers and world-builders in comics sculpting the new Humanoids H1 universe from the ground up
- Staying in New Jersey: it’s the worst, don’t do it. Springsteen has sold us all a pack of lies
With the ever more intense scrutiny over every quip and burp at San Diego, studios have become wary of releasing material there. However, NYCC has become a more hospitable and less critical venue to debut trailers and footage. Everyone is doing it, writes THR’s Graeme McMillan.
What was on offer at NYCC was a doubling-down — or ramping up, depending on your preference — of that idea, which has two obvious benefits for the studios involved: It adds buzz for the project (assuming the footage is well-received by the target audience, at least), and the mere potential of it happening again makes future panels for that movie, or merely from that studio, into more of a destination for fans and media alike. Certainly, Dark Phoenix and Spider-Verse’s footage were much talked-about on the New York Comic Con floor afterwards.
There’s a temptation to compare NYCC this weekend to this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, but it’s not a comparison that SDCC would appreciate. For the past couple of years, the California event has felt lacking in terms of exclusive footage that truly wows audiences — not necessarily because there’s little to be seen, although this year was surprisingly light on that front — but also because San Diego Comic-Con is expected to be the destination for fans looking for this kind of thing, and the reality is, increasingly when it comes to genre material, almost certain to disappoint when compared with unrestrained fan expectation.
It’s worth noting that in NYC the relative distance of the two main entertainment panel venues – Hammerstein and MSG – compared to the so-near-yet-so-far Hall H spectacles, makes NYCC’s panels a little less frantic. Since you can’t see the lines while wandering around the Javits, there’s less FOMO. But this could change – see below.
LOSER: Hellboy fans
The sizzle reel shown at the movie panel was very well received and so far exclusive; this kind of you snooze you lose material may make NYCC’s entertainment panels a lot hotter in the future.
HEIDI’S FINAL THOUGHTS
WINNER: The Beat
I won’t lie, I had a pretty awesome NYCC because I didn’t have to do all the work because I had an amazing, amazing line up of writers. The team not only included some of the hardest workers I’ve ever had the pleasure to collaborate with, but people passionate about comics (at least three people have degrees in comics studies.) The list of thank yous starts with the great Steve Morris, who, like Erkenbrand at the battle of Helm’s Deep, rode in when things looked darkest, and handled the most content we’ve ever posted during a con without even batting an eye. Steve has ridden off back into the sunset to run his own amazing newsletter THE MNT, which I cannot recommend enough that you subscribe to. Steve is as good an editor/manager as he is writer, and having him back for even a few days was fantastic.
I also have to call out the regular Beat editorial team of Kyle Pinion, Alex Lu and especially Hannah Lodge for helping with logistics. And I’m honored that my podcast colleague Erica Friedman, a recognized expert in manga in the US, was able to contribute many insightful reports.
Our wily veterans Edie Nugent, Torsten Adair, Taimur Dar, George Carmona, Billy Henehan and Brandon Pascall staked out their beats with guile and insight. Staff artist Meg Fabbri kept it real with her amazing Overwatch cosplay.
And the new Elite Beat Squad members – Aaron Halls, Adam Karenina Sherif, Amanda Steele, Deanna Destito, Kelly Kanayama, Ricardo Serrano Denis, Samantha Puc, Sara L. Jewell and Will Henderson – went above and beyond with professionalism and on the scene reporting. What an amazing crew!
The whole team is one I’m so proud to be working with.
And there is more to come!
WINNER: The end of con season
Okay there are more cons this year, and I have one tomorrow and two more local one day shows to go to before the calendar year is up. But this was my 13th con/trade show of the year and I’ve been on the road with most of my comics comrades since January when I went to Angouleme. But the travel season is over, and it was a little sad saying goodbye to my frequent travel companions Deb Aoki and Brigid Alverson and a few others who kept me company on this long grueling tour. IT felt like it was time to sign each other’s yearbooks. We’ll all be reunited in a few months at Emerald City Comic Con, but the hot stove league is nigh and with it endless speculation. NYCC 2018 was a watershed con for a lot of reasons. The business is shifting, and people are either embracing it anxiously or bunkering down in fear. But in a few years we’ll be looking back at how things used to be.
What will the future hold? Well, for that you need to keep reading.
Be seeing you!