New York Comic Con returned for another year at the Jacob Javits Center marking its sixth year at the convention space. The NYCC is the east coast’s answer to the long running San Diego Comic Con. The two conventions are dedicated to comic book and their fans and over the years have grown to include graphic novels, anime, manga, video games, toys, movies and television. This year’s convention drew 116,000 attendees up from 105,000 in 2011 according to the ReedPop Group which owns and runs the for profit convention.
This year didn’t disappoint comic fans with DC and Marvel, the two biggest publishers in the world of comic books, showcasing their products. DC highlighted the strength of their New 52 line of comic books and Marvel introduced their Marvel NOW! line of comics which will also reset their continuity with #1 titles starting this fall. Both publishers seem eager to draw in new readers by giving them an easy entry point to their continuing series.
Lesser known comic book publishing companies such as Dark Horse, New-Gen Image Comics also made an appearance. Image in particular tried to capitalize on the recent success of “The Walking Dead” and promoted several panels and signings related to the series. Dark Horse introduced their “Dragon Age” series which will join “Mass Effect” as another comic based on a BioWare video game. New-Gen showcased their comic universe with several models dressed up as some of their well-known characters.
Fans had a chance to meet with their favorite writers or artists as all the publishers had their talent scheduled for signings. DC comics allowed fans a chance to meet Brian Azzarello, writer of the new “Wonder Woman” and two of their Before Watchmen titles as well as Scott Snyder the writer of their highly acclaimed new “Batman” run. Marvel had Mark Waid, who recently won an Eisner for his run on “Daredevil” and Dan Slott. Image Comics got Brian K. Vaughan to do signings of his classic “Y: The Last Man”.
Video games also have a large presence on the show floor with major companies such as Square Enix and Activision showcasing their upcoming products. Square Enix added a new installment to the Tomb Raider series that takes the protagonist back to her roots and Activision had a playable demo of the third installment in their Assassin’s Creed series.
Comic publishers also joined in the video game display. DC had a playable demo of their new brawler “Injustice: Gods Among Us” which allowed players to pit the heroes and villains of the DC Universe against one another. Marvel was on hand to promote “Marvel Heroes” their most recent foray into the massive multiplayer online game market and “Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth” a motion capture based fighting game that relied on Kinect technology.
NYCC absorbed the New York Anime Festival in 2010 and in the years since then anime and manga have made a strong appearance on the show floor. This year several booths were dedicated to selling anime related products but no major publishers were present.
This year’s NYCC expanded beyond the scope of last year’s show including the World Cyber Games Festival 2012 on the convention floor. This was similar to last year’s inclusion of the Intel Extreme Masters Global Challenge – New York which featured a series of eSport tournaments.
It also included companies such as Craftsman and Chevrolet who were promoting their tools and cars respectively. The inclusion of such companies made one question the limits of nerd culture and whether the convention was really restricted by anything.
Walking the convention floor one was constantly bombarded by stimulation with cosplayers, salesman and bright displays. Over time it can get overwhelming and as the convention continues to sprawl it becomes harder and harder to take everything in. The convention has been plagued with a lack of space since its beginning but as the size increase every year the convention loses its original focus. This year’s convention was the biggest it’s ever been expanding into the North Pavilion of the Javits Center. According to ReedPop 40,000 gross square feet of floor space was added this year.
Lance Festerman, vice president of ReedPop Group, addressed the crowding issues at convention in an interview icv2.com saying “Do I think it was too crowded on Saturday and Sunday? Probably. Do I think that’s a function of paying customers? No I don’t.”He blamed the majority of the overcrowding on counterfeit badge holders and other people who attempted to gain access to con illegally although only 300 fraudulent badges were confiscated according to the same interview.
The convention manages to rapidly sell out access badges every year and addressing concerns about expansion and limits on attendees Festerman was excited to be working with the Javits Center next year as approximately 90,000 gross square feet of space would be added as construction on the center finishes.
NYCC is a major draw for comic fans across the east coast, especially when their favorite content creator or actors make an appearance. But at the end of the day many may find themselves exhausted and overwhelmed hoping for a more intimate experience.
All photos by: Olivia Beteta