Big Apple Comic Con was last weekend in New York. Now while we and most of the mainstream comic media do not consider it a main comic con, there is still a huge amount of people that turnout for the event. The con is ran by Wizard and despite trying harder and harder to reach the status of mainstream, it fails over and over again. This is mostly due to the fact that they focus more on celebrities than anything else. DC themselves has stopped attending the cons that Wizard puts on. SteveJRogers made it out to the con last weekend and gave a report of what was going on. He has included many pictures that I have posted along with his entry. Let's see what he thought:
Big Apple Comic Con
A First-Hand Report
Day One-Friday Evening:
First off, this was my first official comic con. Been to too many baseball card shows to count over the years and also the Major League Baseball All Star Game Fan Fest when it was held in New York City in 2008, so I know how these shows generally work. I had heard that Wizard World doesn’t do a great job when it comes to these shows, so going in, expectations were a bit low. As well I’m not an autograph hound, and the only items I would be interested in purchasing would be trading card sets. So armed with a bunch of TheBatmanUniverse.net flyers to pass around, I headed to Pier 94 in Manhattan.
Now, my experience with them is the annual NYPD Emerald Society post-parade St. Patrick’s Day bashes. They are great times, and loads of fun, but I was curious as to how this would fare as opposed to hotels or convention centers, where one would expect something that would have multiple rooms and a setup that would be fitting for a trade show, as opposed to a giant party. When I got there, I was pleased with the set up they had. While you knew you were in loading docks, they did manage to keep the feel of a trade show; though I will have more to say about the organization of the setup.
By the way, I do have a general question for New York City cabbies. At 3:30 PM, why is it so hard to flag one of you down? And what is up with the directions you are going towards? Yes I wanted to go a bit uptown, so what?
Well, anyway, finally hailed a cab, and made my way to the Piers and got in. My first celeb experience happened right away as I walked in around the same time as Adam West and Julie Newmar were getting pictures taken in front of the entrance. I snapped some pictures myself, as well as a shot of West standing next to a 1960s Batmobile replica that was on display, but unfortunately when I went to upload the files on the memory disc onto my computer, they weren’t there! Ah well.
I did have a good time walking around the floor, handing out website flyers, checking out the retailers and Artist Alley. While at Artist Alley I said hello to the man credited with creating The Joker, Jerry Robinson. I figured “why not” and had him record a promo for the comic podcast. Kind of kicking myself for not including “creator of The Joker” in the hastily written script I gave him, but ah well.
Also made my way to legendary Batman artist Neal Adams’ table and also got him to record a promo for the podcast! Not bad in getting a Golden Age and Bronze Age artist (and probably in the eyes of many, the “definitive” Batman artist) to record podcast promos.
Day was pretty much winding down, and I was getting hungry, so I ended up not staying until closing time, and so it was off to get some food in mid-town Manhattan!
The first evening of the con, while not a complete letdown crowd size wise, was a bit smaller than I’d figured it might be. Not sure if the Yankee League Championship Series game had anything to do with it, or quite simply Friday night isn’t the night for convention goers! Friday did feature some interesting panels such as a “What’s up with Marvel” panel, but since this is a DC specific site, I took a pass! As well a Dukes of Hazard panel featuring the Good Ol’ Boys and Daisy! As well as separate panels for Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols, Brent Spiner and Kate Mulgrew. I was really more interested in walking the floor of the convention, and my real focus would just be Batman related panels.
On Saturday though, the panels proved more to my liking, and there were also more celebs on hand for autograph seekers. So clearly, Saturdays are the days to go if you want to go to just one day of a convention!
In any event, my merchandise mission for the show had failed miserably Friday night. First I wanted to check out exhibitions by current DC license holders, DC Direct and Mattel. Neither one of them had a presence! Lego did, but was not showing off its Batman related products. Also Hasbro was there with a very small set-up, but nothing Marvel related! Ah well, guess going to have to wait until Toy Fair this winter for products on display.
Second, was a search for non-sport trading card sets. This is really the only hobby I have when it comes to comic books and the genres they appear in. I’m not a comic book collector by any means, and I ended a brief dabble in the action figure hobby after I noticed I lacked the time, space and money to keep the hobby going. So, trading cards are the only things I collect. And that was what I was searching for this weekend. I just could hardly find any dealers! Oh there were dealers with figures, statues, T-Shirts, fine art, novelty collectables, and, oh yeah, comic books! But nothing in terms of non-sport trading cards! Well, until Saturday and even then it was just one dealer! And in a small corner of a table in a booth that was more into selling loose and still carded figures. Also the selection was very early 1990s, some of the sets I either had, or wasn’t interested in the subject matter, but hey beggars cannot be choosers, especially when this was all I was going to see all weekend! So I just picked up a couple of early 1990 DC sets, one entitled “Cosmic Teams” and the other a set dedicated to Superman #75, The Death of Superman story. Pretty cheap as well, so even though it didn’t quite work out, it did a little bit.
Well, the merchandise end of the weekend may have been a bust for me; I did want to take in a panel. And so I did with a Neal Adams panel on Saturday afternoon. It was a good panel, with questions and discussion about what Adams is doing now as opposed to his past. There was some talk, but mostly it centered on Adams’ studio’s current project with Marvel’s venture into Motion Comics with Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men story. As well as a discussion of his soon-to-be-solicited work with Frank Miller called Batman Odyssey. That should be an interesting book, when it finally gets out.
Now, it was leaving the Adams panel that got me a bit annoyed at how security was running the flow of traffic at the con. The main floor of the con was in one building, Pier 94 which was what was promoted as the location for the show, while registration, the ticket office, and the panels were held next door in Pier 92, which coincidentally is where the NYPD Emerald Society has its Saint Pats Post-Parade Parties. Not a bad setup, but since there is nothing connecting the two buildings, when you were leaving the panel, you literally had to get back on line with people who were showing up for the first time that day. Doesn’t quite make sense when you think about the fact that someone; already was in the convention, now in order to continue to be at the convention, had to go back on line as if they were just arriving to the convention at that time. But, be that as it may, what can you do. At least the weather was just a bit raw and cold!
While I’m still ranting about displeasures, my next target is the fact that they were serving pretty adequate small cups of coffee. Now, mind you, this was a small cup of coffee, probably 6 ounces, and what do you think the price of it was? 2 dollars! And 3 up in the panel building! The same size, and quality, that I could have gotten in some random deli on the streets of Manhattan for about 99 cents! So this isn’t a grande mocha-latte-achino from Starbucks we are talking about! Oh and a bottle of beer was 7 bucks! I honestly wondered if for a brief second I hadn’t been teleported somehow to Yankee Stadium! Then I realized that at the Stadium, the price of a beer is about 10 dollars! Just very strange to see those prices, well I guess they have to pay the celebrities, and whatnot, but still?
Anyway, when one goes to one of these, one would expect to see a ton of costumes. Oh I did see some, but not too many for whatever reason. Perhaps I was just too early as the costume contests were panels held after I left for the afternoon, though I did get some good photos of con goers in Batman related costumes.
Thinking I learned a lesson, I headed into the city early to catch the 11:00 Adam West panel. Perhaps I was a bit too early for it, as I was stuck upstairs on the pier for a good hour and a half. I did catch up on a couple of week’s worth of The Batman Universe Comic Podcasts though while waiting! I Also managed to walk past Donald Trump in Grand Central as they were prepping to film The Apprentice in the terminal. So I went from a billionaire to someone that played one on TV!
The West Q&A panel was very nice. West was very engaging, and fielded questions ranging from the Bat-Disco Dance, to the “Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb” scene, to an obscure sci-fi film called “Time Warp” that West had done that also featured Kirk Alyn, who was the first live actor to play Superman in the 1940s movie serials. They did not share any scenes though. West also had some nice things to say about the direction of the Christopher Nolan Bat-Films, and jokingly, I hope, suggested that he’d make a cameo as a Batman from another dimension!
After the panel had wrapped, I walked the main floor for a little bit longer, holding out hope that I could see more modern card sets on a dealer table! But nothing was really there, as the crowd had gotten much more subdued as it was the final day of the show. So I figured since there wasn’t anything left for me to do, I just called it a day, and left!
In all, it was a fun experience. I tried to make some connections with local area stores and some pop-culture related podcasts for the website at the show, which is always a good thing in terms of getting this site to grow! Well, I do recommend that you do take in a convention just to get the feel for it. No matter what it is, whether it is a crazy huge one like San Diego, or even a smaller one held at a local hotel or whatnot.
So what do you think? Is it worth it? Wizard World Texas is where Apple and I went last year, but as I mentioned before it was more about the celebrities that make an appearance than anything else. Even the email announcements that get sent out from them brag about only the celebrities. What happened to having getting publicity for your show by having some excellent comic related news announced? To make matters worse, Wizard has announced that it is going to go head to head with the fellows that run NYCC next year. They also scheduled another con the same week as C2E2 which is run by the same guys who bring us NYCC. I don't think the NYCC fellows have anything to worry about since DC announced that they will have not only a presence at both cons, but booths as well. The Wizard cons are already more celebrity then the comics. So I think we will plan on attending C2E2 and NYCC over the Wizard cons.
Posted by Dustin