As the day arrived that I would be attending the third annual New York City Comic Con
, the following wise words from Ben Kenobi would not only be known by every single man, woman and child in attendance, it would also serve as a grim reminder of what I, a comic con virgin, was about to face that day: "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy."
Considering I had absolutely no idea the meaning of anything I was going to be looking at 97 percent of the time, I decided to just keep a running diary of my day. A day, quite possibly for better or for worse, I will never forget.
Here we go already, as I board the E train on route to Javits Center, I see my first group of people dressed in crazy costumes. Granted I was warned well in advance that this would happen but it is quite a shock to see the level of detail used. The look of excitement on their faces is downright frightening. I am certainly no expert but I am having a hard time placing their costumes; perhaps some sort of Vulcan ceremonial wardrobe?
It has been brought to my attention the group on the E train are in town to see the Pope.
On the long walk from 8th avenue to the Javits Center there is a blood bank set up on the side of 34th street done in a vampire motif. OK I get it with it being Comic Con, but (A) who would let someone dressed up in a vampire costume insert a needle into their arm, and (B) who in their right mind would give blood at a van set up on the side of 34th street on the west side of Manhattan?
I have confirmed there is at least one person living in the world today that qualifies under both questions.
There is a man in a full Stormtrooper outfit directing pedestrian traffic across 11th avenue to the Javits Center. This means either one of two things - (A) a member of the NYPD was chosen to do this and is positively hating life right now or (B) this is a fan dressed as a Stormtrooper that has absolutely no authority whatsoever to be directing traffic in New York City. I am completely troubled either way.
I am finally in the Con. I must admit, having a press pass and being able to bypass the lines is probably never going to get old. This is the first sight I see.
My only guess is this is a group of Jedi teaming up with a member of The Sopranos
??? Why am I more frightened by the Soprano's guy?
It is amazing how many of the items for sale in the convention hall are just rehashed toys from the 1980's. Honestly this places looks a bit like my childhood bedroom - G.I. Joe, Star Wars, Transformers. Honestly, don't people realize they are just buying the same things that were out two decades earlier? (Sound of me placing a newly purchased 25th anniversary G.I. Joe Storm Shadow figure in my messenger bag.)
In the back of the convention hall there is a Jedi warrior/dance troupe performing a… well I am not exactly sure what they are performing. One second they are in the midst of a lightsaber duel, then the next they are in a choreographed dance together. It is kind of like West Side Story set in space only with really terrible dancers.
I finally decide to hit the main theater and I walk in on what I thought was a panel discussing the movie Short Circuit
. It turns out to be the new Pixar animated film Wall-E
. in which they wind up showing approximately fifteen minutes of the film. When I finally realized this was not a new Short Circuit
movie, and instead an animated movie about robots that do not talk, I had absolutely no desire to see it. I have to admit, the footage is beautiful and my interest has been officially piqued.
I check the schedule posted and decide to attend a presentation called "Zombie Survival Guide 101" simply based on its title alone. How could anyone resist a presentation like this? I think I am starting to get into this Comic Con business!
After ten minutes with not one mention of a zombie I ask the guy in the Thor shirt next to me when they will start discussing zombies. He tells me that was postponed and I am in a seminar titled "Webcomics: Threat or Menace?"
I decide to leave the seminar "Webcomics: Threat or Menace?"
Apparently a press pass does not get me special access to the front of the food line.
An interview I had scheduled just got bumped; welcome to the wonderful world of Internet journalism. Let me explain how this works - all week I received emails from public relation firms telling me how great it would be if I would interview their client. I agree to an interview and do the research to learn as much as I can about said client. Of course when I show up the attitude shifts to "they" are doing "me" a favor.
Still a bit angry from my interview being bumped I see this sign. I have no idea what it means but somehow my anger has morphed into "strange curiosity".
Even a crime fighting superhero needs to take a break, from time to time, and play a video game.
I am finding the funniest costumes are the ones with very little effort put into them. For example - I do not remember Indiana Jones
ever wearing a striped button down office shirt with loafers, yet at least three grown men today have portrayed Dr. Jones in this light. (Insert your own lame "Indiana Jones and the middle aged office worker of doom" joke here.)
The Lucasfilm Panel. This is what I have been waiting for all day, and so has apparently everyone else.
This is a portion of the line that I did not have to wait in thanks to press access.
I just found out that the notion of press access does not have any meaning to Lucasfilm as the security guard has just told me that no press is being let in.
All press personnel (about twenty of us) have been corralled and set aside in a corner near the entrance to the theater with the instructions from the lady that set us aside (I swear this is true) "I have gotten you this far, you are all on you own now." What does that mean?!?!
As soon as someone finally exited the locked side door we were all standing next to, we bum-rushed inside the theater and spread out so at least security could not catch all of us. Who said journalism was not glamorous?
I am beating myself over the head that I spent so much time trying to get into this theater. As opposed to the Wall-E presentation, which actually showed some unseen footage of the new film, in this presentation I was shown trailer after trailer of upcoming projects (most of which I had already seen the trailer). The only saving grace was a hilarious Seth Green
sitting on a panel discussing the origin of his Star Wars Robot Chicken special which is coming out on DVD soon (of course we saw that trailer as well).
I am starting to realize that personal hygiene and bathroom etiquette are not among the priorities of quite a few attendees of Comic Con. Honestly, there are people in the men's restroom doing nothing except reading comic books and blocking the way of others. If I could think of a place to just hang out and read comic books, the men's restroom at Comic Con is not only not in the top 10,000 places in the tri-state area, it is not in the top 10,000 places at Comic Con!
I just heard these words - "Who wants a free t-shirt!" and a crowd of approximately fifty people just went insane at the thought of getting a free t-shirt being thrown into the crowd.
I just heard these words - "Who wants a free tentacle arm!" and a crowd of approximately fifty people just went certifiably committable insane at the thought of getting a free tentacle arm being thrown into the crowd.
I pity this fool!
My day at the New York City Comic Con has (finally) come to a close. I take away two observations from my first convention. First there is an absolutely stunning phenomena going on here. Girls, who in normal life would blend into the crowd with the rest of the general population, are dressing up in costumes and being ogled over by guys like they were Kate Moss
entering Beatrice Inn.
Secondly it is surprising at the overall lack of actual comic books to be found at what is called a "Comic Book Convention". Yes, they are there but I found it easier to find the massage parlor exhibit than it was to find any comic books. Perhaps they are all still in the men's restroom.
Story by Mike Ryan
Starpulse contributing writer