New York Comic Con, one of the biggest pop-culture gatherings of the year is once again close approaching at full speed. For 4 days, ReedPop takes over every nook and cranny of the Jacob K Javits Convention Center in New York City. Comic Books, Video Games, Movies, Anime and Manga and other nerdy/geeky stuff come full circle. In recent years, the convention has exploded in growth after merging with the New York Anime Festival in 2010. The recent popularity of similar conventions such as San Diego Comic Con may have helped with such rapid expansion. If you're reading this, you probably already have your ticket(s). At the time of this writing, only Thursday tickets remain on sale. UPDATE: Thursday just sold out LOL.) Let me be clear, I'm not going to tell you what panels you should see at the con. That is up to you. What I will do is let you know what to expect when you head to the Javtis. I attended my first NYCC in 2008, when it was just a 3-day convention held in April. I have attended every one since it was moved to October since 2010. Here are some important things to know before you go.
First things first: EAT. SLEEP. SHOWER. REPEAT EVERY DAY.
I know, basic con stuff, but if some of you are managing to do ALL 4 days in NYC, be sure to get at least 6 hours of sleep, eat at least 2 meals and shower once a day. Considering this is a convention that a lot of locals attend for a day or 2, this shouldn't be much of an issue compared to other, fan-run conventions that may run 24-7. I haven't really run into people with B.O. issues at NYCC often, but for some reason it was a bit more of an issue back when New York Anime Fest was its own separate thing.
Food, like everything in mid-town Manhattan is expensive. As it’s the norm with all convention centers, food is overpriced. Also, lines are long everywhere. Eat in the JJC only as a last resort. You do have a few lower-cost options for a quick bite, namely vendor carts directly outside the center. I would strongly recommend avoiding the McDonalds right outside the convention center as it’s swamped with dorks from dawn to dusk. You can walk further out for better dining options on 34th street. It may take awhile to walk down, but it’s worth it.
Sleeping depends on many things. Many of you are heading to the event by mass transit. Depending on your length or travel, it wouldn't hurt to get shut eye. Just be aware of your surroundings and don't miss your stop! I used to “commute” to NYCC on the Long Island Rail Road a few years ago and napped on the ride back to Ronkonkoma. Doing that travel back and forth, plus walking all day and night will tire you. If you can afford it, I recommend staying overnight. Don’t slum it up in a “hostel”; There are many affordable options on AirBnB. If you have a smartphone, you may luck out on a last minute room on Hotel Tonight. Keep in mind, events like New York Comic Con will drive up prices as all major events in New York City do. Staying in mid-town will cost significantly more than say New Jersey or Queens. Once again, if you can afford it I highly recommend staying as close to the convention center as possible. Carrying all of that swag back and forth will be less annoying and your feet will thank you.
Did I say everything in mid-town Manhattan is expensive? Budget!
It’s one of most exciting cities in the world. It’s also the most expensive. Especially in the tourist-heavy areas. If you’re not from this country, also it is expected that you tip for services. Services like Taxis, bellhops and full service restaurants. They expect TIPS for their livelihood. You might be compelled to spend a lot of money in the exhibitor hall (a.k.a. the dealers room). It’s a good idea to earmark spending money for that. As I mentioned in my BronyCon Survival Guide, not all prices are equal at all booths. For example, you will see a LOT of Funko Pop figures at many booths. Unless it’s a limited edition or retired model, you shouldn’t have to pay more than $12 for one. Just use common sense when you see that awesome limited edition comic book or toy. The dealers are expecting you NOT to. Restrain from throwing money at every thing you see.
New York Comic Con is more comic focused, but don't let that bother you if you're not big on comics.
I have a confession to make. I don’t really read comic books…well traditional comic books. I’m not a superhero type of reader. The only month comic book I read is “My Little Pony” (yeah, keep laughing at that fact, it’s a pretty neat AWARD WINNING, MILLION SELLING, all-ages comic.) And a few webcomics here and there. Just because “comic” is in the name, doesn’t mean this convention is all about comics. It is a convention that focuses on many nerdy things. You will have the big name panels for properties such as “The Walking Dead” TV series and other panels held by Adult Swim, IGN and others. If you’re thinking about San Diego, where it seems that basically everyone from Hollywood is there promoting something, it’s not on the grand scale and focus but still massive. In comparison to SDCC, there are many, many more comic related panels and events.
Comic Con International should take note.
NEW for this year is New York Comic Con Super Week. There are nerdy-type events throughout the city from October 3-12. Examples include a Dota 2 tournament at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden, Neil deGrasse Tyson for “StarTalk Live” and a cat film festival in Brooklyn. (No, really.) Keep in mind, many of these events are ticketed and cost money to attend. You can get a Super Week card to take advantage of bar, store discounts and preferred seating. So far, I don’t see it very compelling if you see mostly “deals” for tourist things like 20% off admission to Madame Toussands or the ubiquitous Midtown Comics discount. I would probably skip it but I may be wrong. I wish the Super Week website did not look so atrocious though.
It’s very, VERY crowded.
By national convention standards, the Javtis Center is considered small compared to the massive convention centers in Las Vegas and Orlando. Believe it or not, they did finish a expansion that opened recently in the northern part of building creatively named “Javtis North”. Its good for Artist Alley expansion, but not much else. Add to the ongoing construction for the “Hudson Yards” project and the new 7 Subway line expansion, it’s a perfect mess right outside the JJC. However, it should be less messy since construction is done inside.
Last year over the course of 4 days, an estimated 133,000 people attended New York Comic Con. Initially, Thursday back in 2012 was not very crowded at all. It was much easier for me to move around the floor. Thursday in 2013 was another story. There was actually a line to get in on that day, but still was less crowded compared to other days. Last year, every day was pretty busy, with Friday and Saturday being unbearable. If you’re NOT doing 3 or 4 days, only have 2 days and don’t care very much about attending a particular event or panel, I recommend attending Thursday or Sunday. If you have kids, Sunday is the obvious choice because it’s the designated "Kids Day" that will have more of a focus on family friendly events. If you love crowds and don’t hate all of humanity, by all means go on Friday and Saturday! If you're a day tripper, don’t show up at the start of business. You’ll be waiting on a never ending line that will snake outside the Javtis. Wait an hour or two after opening and it should be MUCH easier.
Don’t have tickets? Good luck with finding them.
Since 2012, New York Comic Con is a sold out convention. Every year, demand for tickets have increased dramatically. It took about 2 months for 4-day tickets to sell out last year.
This year, it took less than 90 minutes.
Don’t even get me started on the demand for VIP tickets.
While this is great news for ReedPop, this news doesn't sound very fun to you if you have no tickets on hand. About an hour to posting this blog post on Thursday, October 2nd, NYCC once again is sold out for the 3rd consecutive year.
Of course, the secondary market will be your only option at this point. Be wary of counterfeits! The legitimate NYCC tickets have RFID chips to prevent fakes from entering the convention center. If your pass is not legit, you simply won’t gain entrance. If you’re on eBay, you probably want to avoid sellers that have 100 of these things to sell at the same time. Check out a seller’s history first to avoid red flags and avoid prices that are too good to be true. As these tickets are sold out, demand will be high and so will the prices. Deal with it.
Compared to fan run, not for profit conventions, NYCC IS for profit.
Unlike certain conventions that do it for free (a.k.a non profit), ReedPop hires people and pays them actual money to run this convention. While some may whine about it being “corporate”, for the MOST part, it is professionally run behind the scenes by grown men and women. Unlike Otakon for example who had a massive failure with pre-registration, (and in this day and age, WHY do they make people pick up their "memberships" for a convention that draws 35,000 people?) a similar guffaw here may send someone packing. Still, NYCC has volunteers mainly to herd around the crowds outside and line control at panels.Generally, New York Comic Con is not very welcoming for some types of nerds. A strong example of this is the Anime fan. Don’t get me wrong, there are Anime focused events and panels, but in comparison to the comic “name brand geek” crowd, they’re greatly outnumbered. The last year that the New York Anime Festival was lumped with NYCC back in 2011 was a terrible experience for Anime fans. They were holed up the 3rd floor with just an Artist Alley and a stage. That’s it.The previous year was the "Anime Ghetto", in which every Anime-related event was lumped into the lowest floor of the convention.Artist Alley tends to draw people who are likely associated with the traditional comic book industry and often leaves out a lot of independent, obscure artists looking to get exposure. New York Anime Fest had more of these types of artists that you’re likely to see at an Anime or general geek convention. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for those who are in AA, but I personally wish ReedPop should open up the playing field a bit. It wouldn't hurt to buy a print or two , maybe even get a commission. After all, many of those in AA are comic creators at a comic convention.Panels at NYCC tend to focus on famous guests who have a large following. You won’t find an “Anime Court” panel or an “ask a X” panel here. It’s not as fan driven compared to other fan-run conventions.
Don’t be creepy.
Yet again, this is really basic stuff and common sense. Don’t go hitting on girls left and right thinking like the Javits center is big club. Put away your “Pick-Up Artist” literature. Don’t wear a fedora unless you're cosplaying as Michael Jackson or Frank Sinatra. Don’t “glomp” a special guest you like so hard that you dislocate their shoulder. Don't breathe deeply and stand next to someone of the opposite sex for a long period of time. And most importantly, don't film and interview girls for a public access show asking them uncomfortable questions. (this actually happened in 2013!) The anti-harassment policy, made in conjunction with “The Mary Sue” was revamped for 2014, likely because of that actual incident.
I know some of you guys are socially awkward nerds, but please learn to pick up on social cues. If someone doesn't like you, they're usually not going to make it VERY obvious unless you really make a scene. For those who feel that they're being made uncomfortable, track down a NYCC staff member right away!
ALWAYS ASK PERMISSION FOR A PICTURE. 99.6% of the time, the cosplayer will say yes. After all, that person probably put in hard work to make that costume or at least they spent their hard earned money on it from Party City or eBay.
The lines for panels can be long, but not San Diego long.
As I said before and others before me, New York Comic Con is not quite like San Diego. I have never been to SDCC, but I clearly know it takes over that city with tremendous force. In a city of 8 million people, you REALLY, REALLY have to be a BIG deal to stand out. This may change with “Super Week”, but I doubt it since most events are ticketed with a cost. Many sponsors and networks have their own little events going out outside in San Diego. New York, not so much. Also, you won't see the several day-long lines that are starting to become infamous at San Diego. Try waiting for the Walking Dead Panel overnight and the NYPD will kick you out of the streets for sleeping on the sidewalk. Still, lines for the biggest panels held in the largest panel room can be quite long. Previous years, people would stay in the panel room ALL day for the later events since they don’t clear out rooms. This year, ONLY the main panel room WILL be cleared. I find smaller panels to be a lot easier to get in. If you want to be absolutely sure you want in on a panel try this tip. Wait on the line for the previous panel, sit and be bored for an hour for a panel that you probably don't want to see and then be amazed with an actual panel you want to see.
Download the NYCC App. Just do it.
I always sing the praises of Guidebook. Every major convention should be using it. If not…well they're pretty lame. The tailor made app powered by Guidebook will contain useful information such as times for panels, autograph schedules, list of exhibitors, maps and artists in artist alley. If there are panel changes, the app will adjust to that provided you have a cellular or wifi connection. Please take note that you can also report incidents or harassment through the App as well. The App is available for iOS and Android and Blackberry 10 (why?) and other mobile platforms that are irrelevant in a web enabled version). Go to nyccmobile.com to access it.
DON'T be a BLOCKER!
This is perhaps my biggest pet peeve with conventions the size of NYCC. You KNOW who you are! It's those absolute JERKS who take a photo of a cosplayer in front of people trying to move from point A to B. In the exhibit hall, this can cause bottlenecks in foot traffic in addition to people gathered around other busy booths.
STOP. DON'T DO IT.
If you MUST take a picture of that awesome cosplayer, please have the courtesy of moving away from the flow of foot traffic. 130,000 people will thank you. There are spaces out of the exhibit hall that are conductive for pic taking of cosplayers. Just be mindful of your surroundings. If you haven't figured it out by now, this is a HUGE convention. Taking a picture in the middle of traffic makes you look worse than Hitler.
New York Comic Con 2014 returns to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center from October 9th to October 12th.
My name is Ronald Hennessy. I draw (and write) stuff. I'm coming out with a new book, "Merry Chrissy and the Naughty or Nice Truth" later this year. Be sure to follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ and Pinterest!