Contributed by collector and Overstreet Advisor Art Cloos
Photos by Alice Cloos
The 2019 Big Apple Comic Con was held on March 9-10, 2019, at the Pennsylvania Hotel in Manhattan. For over 20 years, Big Apple Conventions have been a fixture of the comic and pop culture convention scene in New York City. It was founded and owned by comic book collector and dealer Mike Carbonaro in 1995. What started in the basement auditorium of St. Paul’s Church on 10th Avenue in Manhattan, has been situated at the Pennsylvania Hotel for the past 12 years.
By 9 AM on Saturday morning, there was already a line stretched around the block to get in to the con. The place was packed all day. Some dealers told me they were exhausted by the activity at their booths. I saw buyers carrying stacks of books that they were pulling from the walls and boxes for purchase. Even at shows like the New York Comic Con, I have not seen that kind of buying frenzy in so short a span of time.
This buying frenzy was helped by the strong dealer turnout at the show who brought an equally strong display of vintage comic books and art. Among the comic book dealers set up there were Dave & Adam’s Card World, Metropolis Comics, Gary Dolgoff Comics, Superworld Comics, St. Mark’s Comics, Kryptonite Comics, Best Comics, J&S Collectibles, Alex Needleman, Gary Platt, Harley Yee’s Rare Comics, Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find, and Royal Collectibles among others. Comic graders CBCS and CGC were in attendance, so buyers had the opportunity to have their books accepted for grading at the show.
Comic art dealers in attendance were Albert Moy, Nostalgic Investments, Anthony’s Comic Book Art, and Rich Donnelly Cool Line Art. Toy dealers included Toytastik, Good Time Toys, Next Generation Gaming and Toys and Milo’s Toys among others. Auction houses in attendance were Bruneau & Company, ComicConnect, and ComicLink.
Mike Carbo, as he likes to be referred, put together a strong line up of comic book creators, including Frank Cho, Tony Isabella, Jim Steranko, Mark Texeira, Ramona Fradon, Larry Nemecek, Robert J. Sodaro, Larry Stroman, and Dave Ryan, among many others.
Any big time show today, no matter how comic-centric it might be, will feature media guests from outside the comic world and there were some big names here which included William Shatner, Brent Spiner, Kathleen Turner, Geoffrey Cantor, Debbie Rochon, Chris Rankin, David Gerrold, and John O’Hurley, to name a few.
Panels have been part of the convention scene since the beginning and there were a good selection of them at Big Apple. From a first panel tribute to Stan Lee to panels with Shatner and Spiner to one by The Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center, among many others, attendees had many opportunities to be enlightened and entertained.
Big Apple even had a Con Alley where promoters from other shows were giving out information on their events. So East Coast Comicon, Empire State Comic Con, Garden State Comic Fest, The Great Philadelphia Comic Con, Long Island Comic Book Expo, New Jersey Horror Con, Nickel City Con, and TerrifiCon all worked the room to generate interest in their upcoming 2019 shows.
First and foremost, I am a comic fan and walking through the room I was impressed with the variety of comics for sale. There was plenty of Golden, Silver, and Bronze Age issues in abundance with many of the key books as well as a nice selection of the more esoteric ones that serious collectors like. From Detective Comics #1 to Action Comics #1 and Superman #1 to Amazing Fantasy #15 and on to Batman Adventures #12, there were lots of choices. But there was more than just comics available for sale. There were t-shirts, toys, original comic book art, photo opportunities, and more to check out. Allie and I were very happy with our purchases.
Lots and lots of cosplayers were there, wearing some absolutely stunning costumes. The creativity and craftsmanship seemed to take it up a notch, which is saying something for New York area cosplayers who always put on a great show. The Big Apple’s Captain Zorikh held his costume contest and it was open to all levels of costuming competence. It was left to the audience to judge the contestants on the quality of their costumes and their enjoyment of the presentation.
In walking the aisles and taking her show pictures, Allie got to speak to the Amazing Kreskin about his career, his many books, and that he was happy to be at Big Apple. Wherever she went Allie encountered Star Trek cosplayers who posed enthusiastically and talked about their tunic colors. They were all excited to meet the Star Trek guests in attendance.
While there was a vast number of places to eat outside the show, attendees did not need to leave the con to get refreshments. Wild Bill’s Soda was set up with sodas of all kinds served in New York City collector metal mugs. Coney Island hot dogs were also for sale in multiple locations with long lines of hungry attendees.
As usual, I met up with many longtime friends such as Paul Zuckerman who told me he found some goodies for his collection. As we left, we really didn’t want it to end and if the rest of the shows in the upcoming convention season are as good as this one was, then the hobby is poised for a very good year indeed.
The Big Apple Comic Con will return in 2020, once again at the Pennsylvania Hotel. Details and updates on the next show will be available on the Big Apple Comic Con website.