In the Limelight

Contributed by collector and Overstreet Advisor Art Cloos
Photos by Alice and Art Cloos 

New York Comic Con began its second decade on Thursday, October 5, 2017 at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan New York with an awful lot of excited fans there for the party. That is one of the cool things about the show, a party can break out anywhere from a corner of the floor where a group of attendees sit and show off their finds to parties that go on after the day’s activities come to an end.

ReedPOP, which runs NYCC, provided tips to help smooth the con experience in an email sent out to all attendees. These tips ranged from providing an NYCC app to keep you up to speed on times and dates of the show events, Twitter announcements, maps to help attendees find their way around, and a list of what was allowed at the show.

I have said in the past and I will probably say it again in the future: you have to go to a big show with a plan on how to tackle it and I tried to follow my own advice at NYCC. There are tons of panels and events, vintage comics to hunt for, publisher exclusives, and cosplayers to see. One thing to remember is to never expect to do it all in one day, or even in this case four. This becomes even more important as the major shows now regularly schedule events off-site at separate venues. For NYCC that meant panels at the main branch of the New York Public Library and the Hammerstein Ballroom.  

A sample of the guests were Aaron Mahnke (Lore), Abbie Cornish (Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan), Adal Rifai (Hello From the Magic Tavern), Adam Savage (Mythbusters), Adrianne Palicki (The Orville), Allegra Acosta (Marvel’s Runaways), Anthony Atamanuik (Drunk History), Billie Piper (Doctor Who), Felicity Jones (Rogue One), Frank Miller (comic book creator, film producer), Gillian Anderson (The X-Files), John Harlan Kim (The Librarians), Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Animated Series), Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina the Teenage Witch), Peter Sanderson (comic historian, writer), and Rosario Dawson (The Defenders). There was an impressive list of literary, anime, and manga guests at the show as well.

My first stop was at the TwoMorrow booth where I talked to Eric Nolen-Weathington to conducted my annual ritual of renewing my Alter Ego subscription. I talked to author Kim Dwinell about the differences between Comic-Con International: San Diego and NYCC, particularly that New York attendees are more interested in books than at San Diego. I found the Jelly Belly Artist in Residence Kristen Cumings who once again was working at the Jelly Bean booth, this time creating a Superman portrait live out of jelly beans (last year it was Wonder Woman). Cumings is one of the only people in the world that uses jelly beans as her art form. At the booth, all their DC licensed products from the Hero Collection were also on display.

I run into friends and former students a lot at NYCC, including buddies Andy Heller and Alan Fariello and one of my favorite former students Nurul Khuka, which is part of the fun of going to shows. I went to the vintage comic dealers section, and it seemed like there were more comic dealers than last year. I got to talk to old friends Harley Yee, Superworld’s Ted VanLiew, Frank Cwiklik and Vincent Zurzolo from Metropolis, Greg White, and Steven Striker. Rick Whitelock was sharing a booth with Filter Comic’s Danielle Smith and we talked about the state of the vintage comic market today.

This area also hosted the original comic art dealers such as Mike Burkey, Hans from Tri-State Original Art, Albert Moy, and Anthony’s Comic Books, Original Art, and Collectibles.

A large number of workshops were held each day, including some for educators. Alice attended the educator panels “Lesson Planning for the Comics Classroom” where different strategies were discussed to use comics in the classroom and in the library and “Gender Identity Understanding through Art” about the nature of gender identity in our culture and how it is interpreted in comics.

Allie and I were able to attend the “DC Universe Original Movies 10th Anniversary” press conference with DC media talent to discuss their work on the company’s movies. First was Batman voice actor Jason O’Mara who told us that he is a lifelong Batman fan making the role a natural for him but that he loves to do live-action movies too. Next was Wonder Woman voice actress Vanessa Marshall who talked about learning a lot from reading the comics while researching the role. Third up producer Bruce Timm who said Batman is all about the mission but that he has moral values which Timm admires. Then came producer James Tucker who talked about how Batman got him into animation and that he is Tucker’s favorite character. It was quite a thrill to talk to writer and producer Alan Burnett, who shared his plans for retirement and that his proudest achievement was Batman: The Animated Series. Our final interview was with writer and producer Jim Krieg who brought out a beautiful boxed DVD set with 10 years of DC animation and commented that there is room in DC movies for different flavors and styles.

After the press conference and more exploring the convention floor, we headed out for a dinner party at Trattoria Casa Di Isacco with friends and librarians Karen Green and Runita Toomer.

On Friday I talked comics with collectors Robert Weinberg and Paul Zuckerman, and chatted with Steve Borock of CBCS. At Smith’s booth I met Kenny Sanderson, one of the leading comic book restoration experts in the country. He talked about some of the processes used in restoring damaged comics and it was quite the educational experience for me.

Once again Allie hit the educator panels, including a family event called “Create A Comic Live.” In it, comic book writer Amy Chu and artist Thom Zahler created a three-panel comic in real time while teaching about character, creation, story structure, and visual narrative.

That afternoon I attended the DC press conference “Batman: Gotham by Gaslight.” Once again I talked to Timm who shared that he had the option of making the movie R-rated, though he didn’t set out to do so. Next was director Sam Liu who handles DC animated movies. After that was writer Jim Krieg who talked about the amount of research needed for the 1897 period piece.

After the convention we went to Mustang Harry’s for an annual NYCC dinner with art dealer Mike Burkey, his brother John, Sean Rutan, Marvin Hoover, Wonder Woman collector Susan Natoli, and comic dealers Mike Wilbur and Joe Vereneault.

On Saturday morning, Allie attended the panel “Telling Stories With Patrick Rothfuss, Jonathan Coulton and friends.” In it, the panelists discussed strategies for storytelling and going from good ideas to finished product. Allie found this to be a very funny and interesting panel and liked that it was interactive with the audience.

In the vintage toy section, I talked to Mego collector Mark Huckabone, Steve Savino at the Toy Hunters booth, and the Tinkerbee Toys & Treasures people who reported good sales.

After the vintage, I checked out the new collectible toy makers. Sideshow Collectibles presented a first look at new collectibles including the Guardians of the Galaxy to Thor: Ragnarok. Three all new interpretations of iconic characters from the Spider-Verse from comic book artist Mark Brooks were on display there as well. The Imaginext team showed off a show exclusive limited edition version of their DC Super Friends Batbot Xtreme that was available exclusively to NYCC attendees. This is a direct nod to 2015’s “Superheavy” story arc in Batman #40-46, during which Commissioner Gordon steps into the role of Batman using a special mechanical batsuit after Bruce Wayne is presumed dead and can’t perform Batman’s duties. Pretty cool stuff.

Cosplayers continue to be a major feature of any pop culture show and each day there was a veritable army of them walking the aisles. NYCC had three Cosplay Fix It Carts sponsored by the SyFy channel to help cosplayers who needed emergency repairs on their costumes. With all the cosplayers at the show it got to the point where picking cosplayers to take pictures for this review became overwhelming. One in particular, though, who really stood out to me was Elizabeth Mooney who was wearing a one of a kind outfit that was named “Beyond Blue” which was a dress that was like something out of a 15th century fancy European ball. It was based on a Ryan Jude Novelline painting and took two months to construct in the artist’s studio. It was adorned with 25,000 hand placed Swarovski crystals, with a 55-foot cathedral train with a Novelline painting on it. It was amazing.

In my canvassing of the show I did not meet any dealer who was unhappy with his or her sales, which indicated to me that the dealers were going to be happy with their final totals for the show when they added them up.

With this year’s New York Comic Con now concluded, fans can start the countdown to 2018 when the 12th edition will be held October 4-7 at the Javits Center in Manhattan. You can keep track of NYCC news on their website and on Facebook.