I’m Thacher E. Cleveland, one of the Super-Fly Comics podcast hosts and until the end of November I was one of the two owners of Super-Fly Comics & Games. After a lot of soul-searching I decided it was time to hang up my Comic Guy license and move on to new adventures. Not only do I have a new job in a new city but I’ll be buying comics again for first time in almost 7 years instead of just reading whatever I want, whenever I want. With the comic industry at a turning point with price wars, “event fatigue” and digital distribution, I’ve picked a hell of a time to get…Back in the Game.
Sometimes it’s fun to do things on the spur of the moment. I’d been planning to go to New York Comic-Con this year since last year’s NYCC, excited to return to the region of my birth for what has become the second largest comic show in America. As I reached the end of summer it began to look like that dream was going to quietly fade away, but after some creative financing, the generosity of friends and the kind of decision making ability that makes me question my status as a grown-up I found myself wheels-up for the Big Apple.
I often have people ask me if I ever want to go to the San Diego Comic-Con because it’s the biggest or “nerd Mecca” but I usually tell these people that the whole SDCC experience seems like too much work. It’s a giant show with tons of people going and it seems like more often than not people have to spend tons of time in line sacrificing one thing they’re interested in seeing for another. That doesn’t seem like that much fun just so I could go “I went to the big one.”
After NYCC 2011, I think I can safely say that now more than ever I’m willing to eschew the Big One.
NYCC was massive. After going to two years of C2E2’s, I thought I was ready for New York-style massive (which I imagine is just as good, but thinner and easier to eat, where as Chicago-style massive is thicker and more packed with stuff). I’m not going to say that I was overwhelmed, but the density of the crowd and the style of the Javits center certainly made many aspects of the weekend a challenge. At C2E2 I found myself mostly going to panels and trying to broadcast comic news as I came across it at panels. At NYCC I found myself with a couple of obstacles to that. First and foremost, it was very difficult for me to get a stable signal on my phone at the Javits Center. Granted, I do have a first gen iPhone (which I think has the processing power of Sputnik) and I’m on AT&T (which definitely has the signal strength of Sputnik) so I knew I was going to be behind the eight-ball on that front but holy cow was it rocky. I was basically Twitter-dark the entire time I was in the show and text-message dark most of the time. Even in the Press Room there was very little signal to be found.
As for the panels themselves, it seemed like both Marvel and DC were incredibly vanilla with their panel offerings. Each company just basically ran down each of their families of titles, gave them a panel and have creative teams talk about what’s happening next. That seems pretty standard fare and there’s nothing wrong with that per se, but…it’s still pretty standard fare. Looking over the panel descriptions I found myself wondering where the surprises and big announcements were, and when I found myself unable to make it to a panel and then heard about what happened in it I became less and less inspired to make my way through the crowds and stand in line for the next one. Some announcements were interesting (Shazam backups in Justice League, Remender taking over Secret Avengers) but others just seemed like more of the same (Storm joins the X-Men, a third Bendis-written Avengers title). Since I had other things I wanted to do all day than bounce from panel to panel I caught up on most of the news that was announced at NYCC after the fact.
The one thing that the big shows have that other shows may not are big name, real-world celebrities and the chance to show them off. I’m not normally one to get all weak in the knees at the thought of meeting famous people, but given the right situations it’s great to hear them talk. Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick didn’t have any news or footage or special guests but hearing them just riff and talk about stuff was kind of amazing and the kind of thing that you’d only get at a show like NYCC. There was also, of course, the really big name panels like Walking Dead and Avengers, but here I got my first taste of the big con striking back. Thanks to getting very little cell service, I didn’t get the messages from the PoP!-Comrades that the IGN theater was filling up rapidly and that I needed to make haste in order to get a seat. I left the panel I was at early to get a jump on the crowd (and try to do little things, like eat) when I finally did get the messages. At that point, two hours early wasn’t going to cut it and even the fancy press credentials the 11th Hour video-ninjas got me weren’t going to get me inside. Like I said, I knew intellectually that sacrifices were going to have to be made in order to see the really big stuff, but I guess I didn’t know exactly how to go about that.
Ultimately, New York Comic-Con is a lot like the city the hosts it. Big, epic and requiring a lot of leg work to see it all. I know I’m going to do my best to go again next year, but next time I’m going to try to have more of a plan. That’s the biggest thing you need at a show like this: a solid plan that you stick to that doesn’t involve you back-and-forthing it across the con floor multiple times a day because few things will wear you out faster than that. It’s a different kind of work than manning a booth was, and in some ways manning a booth has the advantage of giving you a spot that you can retreat to so you can focus on what’s directly in front of you. A booth or table also gives you a central location to have people meet or find you, and not having that really increased the amount of people that I wanted to see that I didn’t get a chance to (and I’m just talking people I know from the internet, forget trying to track down every professional in artists alley or at a publisher booth that I wanted to meet and greet).
New York Comic-Con may have been a roller coaster with ups and downs that kept me on my toes, but that’s part of the experience. At least now when people ask me if I want to go to San Diego I can say “Nah, I’ve already been to the big one.”
Filed Under: Back in the Game