In the Limelight

Columbus Day is celebrated every second Monday of October, and as such gives America a three-day weekend to go out and have some fun. For pop culture fans it is a significant time of the year, because it is the weekend that New York Comic Con is held. Every year during that weekend a veritable army of comic book, comic book art, cosplay, toy, movie and TV fans descend upon New York City and the con’s home at the Javits Center, which is located in midtown Manhattan, where an estimated 250,000 fans were expected to attend what has certainly become one of the two biggest comic cons in the States.

This year NYCC added an Anime Fest and Expo at Pier 94 and the Studio at Shop Studios. A separate ticket was required to get in, meaning a NYCC badge did not give admittance to these events. 

The great thing about the show is it is not confined just to the Javits Center alone. All across Manhattan, events held in conjunction with NYCC were going on both before, during and after the show closed each evening. One needs a lot of stamina and time to try to keep up with everything going on, so as I have said in the past, planning is very important here as it is for any large show. Go through the panels to pick out which ones and where you want to go to. Check out the various events planned around town. For example, did you want to go to a “White Walker by Johnnie Walker” tie-in to the final season of the Game of Thrones hit TV series? If you did, you would  have had the opportunity to taste a new limited-edition blend and receive exclusive information surrounding the eight, rare whiskies from The Game of Thrones Single Malt Scotch Whisky Collection being introduced by Johnnie Walker. However, it was not held at the Javits (not allowed) but rather outside it on Saturday. With a limited space for the event, guests were admitted on a first come-first serve basis and of course they had to be 21 or older to attend. Dare I say it was a delicious experience? Well it was.

Another example of NYCC spreading its wings was that for the fans of Warner television on Saturday Warner ran Legacies, Roswell, Blindspot, Manifest and The 100 panels at the Javits Center, but Sunday for the Riverdale and Gotham panels you had to go to the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on 34th street - a pretty decent walk from Javits.

Besides the above, there were many professional panels that were held at the main branch of The New York Public Library, and other panels and events were held at the Hammerstein Ballroom. Another example of this was held at the Studio located at the Shop Studios which brought attendees inside the worlds of entertainment and storytelling by connecting them with top-tier talent and creators through a series of NYCC master classes, workshops, and exclusive conversations. Attendees had the chance to learn from the likes of Alex Ross, Bill Nye, Raina Telgemeier, Phil LaMarr, R.L. Stine, and a whole lot more. So as you can see, fans had to do a lot of traveling to different venues to keep up with all the things going on at this show, and all that traveling had to be part of the planning process. 

Alice went to several professional panels geared toward educators, librarians and comic book professionals (she is a teacher in her other life). These panels can be used for professional development for teachers and can give them professional days to attend by their supervisors. One was titled “How to Draw Your Imagination” which was geared to professional artists who want to work with writers but was applicable to teachers as well. A second one was called “The Full Picture: Art Creation, Informational Literacy and the Picture Collection With Your Students” which discussed the unique picture library at the central branch of the Manhattan Public Library. She found both provided her with ideas for her classroom as did the others she attended.

Big shows have a lot of everything in them and this is one of the biggest. The following is just a small sample of who the spotlighted comic guests were there: Brian Bendis, Dave Gibbons, Scott Snyder, Tim Sale, Todd Mcfarlane, Kris Anka, Adam & Andy Kubert, Aaron Lopresti, Adelso Corona, Agnes Garbowska, Art Baltazar, Arthur Adams, Billy Tucci, Chris Camapana, Chris Claremont, Dan Parent, Denis Kitchen Publishing, Ed McGuinness,Frank Cho, Joe Staton, Klaus Janson, Larry Hama, Peter David, Steve Orlando, and many others.

Dealers and buyers come from across the U.S. for NYCC and as far away as Australia and Europe, and comic dealers were prominent among them. The NYCC exhibitor list showed 101 entries for people selling comics estimated by one dealer I was speaking to as one third of the people set up there. Among that list were names such as Harley Yee, Metropolis Comics, Superworld Comics, Basement Comics, Best Comics, Bullet Proof Comics Inc., Chris' Comics, ComicXposure, Dave & Adam's Card World, El Rey Comics, Greg White Comic Books, Highgradecomics, JHV Associates, Kings Comics, Matt's Cavalcade of Comics Cards & Collectibles, Midtown Comics, Reece's Rare Comics, Royal Collectibles, St. Mark's Comics, The Comic Mint, Toy & Comic Heaven, TvComics, Zapp! Comics and a whole lot more.

Every big show has auction houses set up at them and of course NYCC was no exception, with Comiclink, Heritage Auctions and ComicConnect all in attendance.

Comic art is a big part of the comic collecting world today and comic art dealers were well represented including Albert Moy Original Art, Animation Art Emporium, Anthony's Comic Books, Original Art, and Collectibles, Dan Gallo, Romitaman Original Art, Scott Eder Gallery, Tri State Art  and Steve and Rich Donnelly among others.

Vintage toy dealers such as Mark Huckabone, ToyTokyo and the Toy Hunter Jordan Hembrough were among those in attendance, and there were many dealers of new toys as well.

Beyond the comics and comic art, there was a vast number of vendors who sold new toys, vintage toys, clothes, jewelry, food companies such as Jelly Belly, book publishers selling special edition copies, comic publishers such as DC and Marvel with large and impressive booths and really so much more. To walk each aisle front to back will literally take two days to go through thoroughly and that is not counting artist alley so one has to decide what the priorities are and really stick to them so as not to be overwhelmed. 

Media guests included Dean Cain, Mark Ruffalo, Anjali  Bhimani, Josh Grelle, David Tennant, Ben Savage, Mark Ruffalo, Teri Hatcher, Zachary Levi and a lot more. Both autographs, and photo ops were available for a fee for many of the guests.

Matt Nelson, one of CGC's primary graders, offered free evaluations for comic books at NYCC on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. He provided guidance on grading, pressing, restoration removal, and restoration at the CGC booth and I thought that was a very cool chance for newer collectors to learn some of the finer points of grading and maintaining one’s vintage comics.

In case you were wondering, ye,s cosplay was in full force at the show. Every year the outfits of the cosplayers who attend seem to get more and more amazing. My favorite one was from Andrew Arkham, who we met on the train coming into Manhattan. He was dressed as Captain Marvel (the original one) and whose lightning bolt on his chest lit up. I am telling you, that one really rocked. In addition Singer sponsored the NYCC Eastern Championship of Cosplay on Saturday on the Main Stage, and cosplayer Bob Lively won the championship and qualified for the final round of the 2018 C2E2 Crown Championships of Cosplay in Chicago, which is the final stop in the Global Championships of Cosplay.

I have a couple of traditions that I stick to at every NYCC, and one of them is that the first thing I do on the first day is stop at the Tomorrow Publishing booth and meet up with Eric Nolen-Weathington, who is an editor and designer for the publisher and who runs the company’s booth, in the same spot no less, every year. After catching up with him I renewed my Alter Ego subscription. It’s one of the best magazines on vintage comics out there and I don’t like missing any issues.

Walking the aisles at any show we attend, I get the chance to meet up with and talk to a lot of people. At NYCC I got to meet up with my friend Alan Fariello. He was having a fantastic time and gesturing around him he said that, “NYCC is the mecca of all things pop culture. If you want to be on top of the latest in media, this is the place to be.”

A real treat was meeting up with my Facebook and Comic Scholars email group friend, Professor N. C. Christopher Couch. He is a professor at Columbia University and wrote Jerry Robinson Ambassador of Comics and The Will Eisner Companion. Chris sees himself first and foremost as a comic geek and is such a nice guy to hang out with. I spoke to a lot of the comic and art dealers while there and I universally heard the same comments from each, many with big smiles, on how strong their sales were. Some went so far to say their sales were better than at the San Diego show.

Another of my NYCC traditions is our annual Friday night NYCC dinner, held for the second year in a row at Mustang Harry’s on 7th Ave. With a mix of collectors, dealers and creators it is a fun night and a highlight of the after party fun during the four days of the show for us. Frank Giella, the son of legendary Batman artist Joe Giella and my good buddy, came up to me during the dinner and I have to say that he was downright giddy as he said to me, “Art, I was so happy to see people buying comic art. Artist’s Alley was packed. It was great to see cartoonists getting recognition and I hope they all did well. It was refreshing to see that artists alley looked more crowded that the celebrity signing areas”.

I think that neatly sums up part of what the comic con experience is all about. Part of it is the fun, the camaraderie and the chance to find that special piece for one’s collection. But part of it is giving recognition to all the aspects of an American art form that means so much to the many different generations of fans who attend shows like New York Comic Con. I already cannot wait until next October.

New York Comic Con will return in 2019 on Thursday Oct 3 to Sunday Oct 6 at The Jacob Javits Convention Center located in Manhattan at 655 W 34th St., New York, NY 10001. for updates and further information you can check their website.

-Art Cloos
Photography by Alice Cloos