Contributed by collector and Overstreet Advisor Art Cloos
On March 11-12, 2017 Mike Carbonaro ran his first two-day Big Apple Comic Con as he celebrated the 20th anniversary of the long running comic convention in New York City. It all began in the basement of St. Paul's Church on 59th and Columbus Avenue in 1997 and now is held at the Penn Plaza Pavilion and Pennsylvania Hotel.
Carbonaro pulled out all the stops for this one with appearances by big name comic creators, a ton of panels, cosplay contests, and celebrity guests. Dealers were many of the east coast's top people, including Dave & Adam’s Card World, Metropolis Comics, Anthony’s Comic Book Art, Gary Dolgoff Comics, Toytastik, The Encounter, CBCS Comics, Toys N’ More, Pop Culturizm, Royal Collectibles, St. Mark’s Comics, Zapp Comics, Harley Yee Rare Comics, Pop City Collectibles, Kryptonite Comics, Superworld Comics, Geek Depot, Gus’s Silver Age, J&S Collectibles, Northside Comics, Desert Wind Comics, Lady Arielle, Metro Orange Art, and Nostalgic Investments among many others.
There was a wide variety of comics, toys, clothing apparel, videos, original art and more to look over and buy. Dealers reported strong sales. “I always do well at a Big Apple show and this one is no exception,” Harley Yee said. Other dealers seemed very happy and most had shoppers in front of their tables.
Among the panels at the show Johnny Brennan talked about the history of prank calls and how his Jerky Boy characters led to the creation of Mort Goldman on Family Guy. Filmmakers Jackie Zbuska and Keith Larsen presented an interactive panel that featured exclusive content from The Charlton Movie. Elden Henson, Peter Shinkoda, and Geoffrey Cantor talked about their Daredevil show. Jim Simon the son of Joe Simon, gave a discussion of his famous father’s teamwork with Jack Kirby and the creation of their most famous character, Captain America on the 100th anniversary of his father's long-time partner Jack Kirby's birthday and discussed the social impact of their groundbreaking work in comic books.
Roy Thomas, Jackson Bostwick, and Captain Zorikh talked about how the name Captain Marvel is one of the most famous, yet misunderstood, names in comics. They began by noting how there has been many superheroes with that name, from several different companies, and some people call at least one of them “Shazam.” This panel set the record straight about all the Captain Marvels in a revealing, in-depth analysis of their history and significance.
With cosplay such an important part of the comic con experience there was a big crowd of cosplayers on hand. Big Apple had it covered with multiple events for cosplayers. Enthusiasts showed off their costume skills and character presentation in the fast-paced, non-stop frenzy during the Captain Zorikh Costume Contest. Prizes were awarded according to the results of the Applause-O-Meter which included gift certificates, goodie bags, collectibles, and Captain Z’s Amazing Box of Wonder. Sponsors included Artist & Craftsman Supply, Forbidden Planet, Midtown Comics, and Halloween Adventure/Gothic Renaissance. The Big Nazo Intergalactic Creature Band animated the cosplay contest.
There was a Kids Costume Showcase that was sponsored by Squishables. The Kids Showcase was open to all kids 12 and under and every kid got a prize. There was a Sci-Fi Cosplay Contest where a panel of judges awarded prizes based on originality. There was The Workmanship Cosplay Contest which was a contest for the cosplayer who made at least 80% to 90% of their costume themselves. This contest was completely pre-judged by a panel of professionals. Contestants were allowed to bring reference material for the judges to review and no store bought costumes were allowed. There was a Superhero Cosplay Contest which was a contest based only on the comic book and movie versions of the contestant's comic book characters. Finally, The Lighter Side of Cosplay Contest was devoted to cosplay that doesn’t really fit into any other category. Prizes were awarded for creativity and ability to think outside the box in this one.
I have said in past show reviews that celebrity guests have become a staple of any major comic con and Big Apple continued the tradition with appearances by Jason David Frank (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers), Johnny Brennan (Jerky Boys, Family Guy), Elden Henson (Daredevil, Hunger Games), Barbara Eden (I Dream of Jeannie), Peter Shinkoda (Falling Skies, Daredevil), Geoffrey Cantor (Daredevil), and The Amazing Kreskin among others.
Of course no comic convention is complete without artist and writer appearances and Big Apple had plenty this time with Frank Miller, Jim Steranko, Jim Lee, Roy Thomas, Howard Chaykin, Mark Bode, Arthur Suydam, Barbara Ang, Brian Kong, Renee Witterstaetter, Michael Golden, Jesse Wolfe, Chelle Mayer, and Dan Fogel.
Carbonaro is known for surprises at his shows and this one was no exception with he and his fiancée Nina Martinez getting married on Friday night. It was one of the most unique weddings Allie and I have ever been to. Stan Lee was supposed to perform the ceremony, since he is a licensed minister, but after he had to bow out it was Vincent Zurzolo from Metropolis Comics who stepped in and preformed the ceremony (yes, he is licensed to perform marriages too). Food was provided by White Castle and there was a cash bar. White Castle gave a video presentation of the company's history and inducted Stan Lee into the White Castle Hall of Fame. Jim Steranko was on hand to give away the bride.
Music was provided by the band Big Nazo who are an international performance group of visual artists, puppet performers, and masked musicians who create bizarre and hilarious larger-than-life characters, environments, and spectacles. Renegade circus family contortionists, a rowdy rodeo horse, a giant three-eyed robot percussionist, break-dancing police officers, mountain trolls, blob-like GO-GO dancers, a charismatic lab rat and his giant man-eating chia pet are just a few of the characters, environments, and spectacles that the members use to create an irreverent musical experience, much of which was on display at the wedding.
As always it was fun meeting up with old friends. Getting to hang out with Gary Dolgoff at Mike's wedding was so much fun as well as talking to Ted VanLiew of Superworld Comics fame and Harley Yee. Friday night before the wedding Bechara Maalouf and I caught up and Allie and I used his booth as our base of operations during the show on Saturday. Art collector and all around good guy Matt Stock and I talked collecting for a while and Allie and I also got to meet and make some new friends too such as Lauren Sisselman a very serious comic book collector and Overstreet Advisor as well as a fellow writer.
There was early admission to the con for attendees who could enter at 9:30 AM to get special deals from dealers and be the first on celebrity lines. The early admission ticket for Saturday or Sunday was $55 and the early admission two-day tickets were $100. General admission for Saturday was $30, Sunday was $25, and two-day tickets were $50. Tickets for children ages 6 to 12 years old were $10 per day and children 5 and younger got in for free.
It was very easy to travel to the show with Penn Station across the street from both the Penn Plaza and the Pennsylvania Hotel on 7th Avenue, as well as the Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey transit, Metro North into Grand Central Station – which is only ten minutes away, and other transportation options.
Carbonaro has long range plans for his show and this edition of Big Apple is the first of three shows which will continue over the next two years with a unified theme. To find out what that theme is, don't miss next year’s show (he wouldn't tell me what it was, darn it). As of this writing show dates have not been released for 2018 but check the Big Apple web site to keep informed www.bigapplecc.com.
See more photos from Big Apple Con in our In the Limelight section.