It was a busy weekend for comics in and around New York City, with EternalCon, New York Comic Fest and Special Edition: New York all taking place, as well as a few satellite events. All three cons were a success, judging by comments from participants, and online reports. I think it’s fair to say that all three would have been bigger had there not been two other events that weekend, but most people had fun. Next year, obviously, scheduling will have to be worked out.
I went to EternalCon on Saturday and Special Edition on Sunday, which was exhausting, but could not match Amy Chu’s exploits, which included a panel at SE:NYC on Saturday morning, hopping on the train to Garden City, LI, doing a panel at EternalCon, training back to the city and then back to SE:NYC on Sunday. She’s a go-getter. I didn’t get to go to the New York Comic Fest but you can read numerous reports here and on other sites; by all accounts it was a fine event with lots of stellar comics talent on hand.
My weekend of comics kicked off Friday night with the awards presentations at the Society of Illustrators for their Comics and Cartoon Annual. I arrived bedraggled after merely running across the street in one of those massive flash flood type downpours that often hit in the early evening in the summer. Despite the dampness, it was a lovely evening, I felt (I was one of the judges in the Short Form category.) Several of the winners were there, including Ruben Bolling and John Martz, and several like Martz had travelled to NYC for the occasion. This was very much an inaugural prize, and I’m sure there will be changes and evolution as the awards continue.
I jumped in on someone else’s photo of Silver Medalists Miriam Katin and and was rewarded with this epic photobomb. No idea who the fellow in the middle is.
John Martz shared the Gold Medal in the Single Page category. Although we all miss Drawn, it’s great to have more of Martz’s art out there. I wanted to chat to him more about his currents deeds but got caught up yapping with other people and never had a chance.
Silver medalist Talya Modlin and her boyfriend whose name I didn’t write down and I forgot because I’m a horrible person. These two filled me in a bit on their view of the Chicago comics scene. By all accounts this year’s CAKE was a hit, so things are happening.
OKAY the scene shifts to Long Island! As I entered EternalCon I greeted showrunner and mastermind Frank Patz. This was definitely a throwback show with an updated vibe, with dealers, a lot of toys, and all kinds of artists, world famous and not, all scattered around an aviation museum. It had the basics plus cosplay and live lightsaber duels. Frank told me that despite all the competition, attendance for Saturday alone ws up from 2013. I got to interview Once upon a Time’s Rebecca Mader and Lee Arenberg at a panel so that was fun, as the audience was very enthusiastic. I also did a panel on the diversification of comics with Amy Chu, Amanda Conner and Alitha Martinez, and that was also fun.
The thing about EternalCon was that it was a comic con set in an aviation museum. (The Cradle of Aviation was built at the spot where Charles Lindbergh took off for his historic solo crossing of the Atlantic.) So basically you had booths full of tschotkes and comics and toys set up in the middle of the displays. Throw in the fact that museum had it’s own kind of wacky dioramas from what seemed like the early 70s—let’s say the original Space Mountain era—and you have a one of a kind experience.
For instance, this was a display of someone’s detailed hated house model and other horror stuff, set in front of a display on manned space travel. The child is real and not part of the display.
What can I say…this was like a fun house, as the Planet of the Apes mixed with Spitfires and Blackhawks.
One of the museum exhibits. No idea.
THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO.
The Empire Saber Guild, a Star Wars enthusiast group, but on a live performance, with video drops ins and voice overs and LOTS of stage combat. It was impressive to begin with, but they staged it at the bottom of the museums IMAX theater, a very narrow area at the bottom of a steep bank of seats. This isn’t the kind of event I normally go to but I got caught up in the story and enthusiasm.
A rare view of a sun dappled Rodney Ramos.
Artist Ken Kelley was there with some of his iconic covers for KISS albums. I know we use the word iconic too much but these are really iconic.
I just could not get enough of this museum.
There was a significant cosplay component and this Alien was probably the best. I did see one of the more complicated cosplayers stopped for a photo only to blurt out “I have to pee first” and then sprint to the bathroom. I imagine getting in and out of those things isn’t easy sometimes, so waiting until the last minute is a bad idea.
The con truly had a chamber of horrors.
Exhibiting artists John Cebollero, Nelson de Castro and Jimmy Palmiotti.
AND NOW FLASH FORWARD TO SUNDAY! I arrived about 1 pm, which was pretty late, so I didn’t expect to see a big crowd going in and I didn’t. I think I mentioned this in y BEA coverage—or else Torsten did—but the area opposite the Javits Center is being developed into a huge Rockefeller Center-like area that in coming years will be full of apartment buildings, shops and restaurants. The imminent arrival of the 7 train will make it all possible. Right now it’s a hole in the ground but in a few years you will walk out of the con and have tons to do.
Wow, the Javits center was nearly empty! Special Edition was held in the North Hall but you had to enter at the south end anyway and walk through the eerily spooky emptiness. Panels were held at the OTHER end in Hall e, however, meaning even with no crowds you had at least a 10 minute walk from one end to the other. I guess Hall a was under construction.
As I walked along, I realized that this awful building was meant to look nice and not to actually have people in it. I’ve noted my distaste for the buildings of I.M. Pei many times here so I won’t belabor the point but read on.
And here is the North Hall! Despite being a temporary shed, compared to the regular Javits, it’s light airy and habitable by humans!Everyone loves it and natural light elevates the mood. Sunday was a very slow day at this show by all accounts, and there was no jostling. The reports I heard is that Saturday was great up until about 5 and then was very slow.
Artists Alley was all over the place…some people had bad days, others their best ever. If you came t chat up artists though, this was a great day to do it. The front 3/5s of the room was dealers and a smattering of publishers.
Susana Polo and Rebecca Pahle of The Mary Sue, which sort of absorbed Geekosystem last week. I’ll have to say about that later but it was nice to met my fellow journos.
The Z2 booth had some books and nice prints. Keagan Kirk-Singer and Chris Hunt manned the booth when I stopped by.
Ed Catto never tired of Captain Action!
I finally got to meet Chandra Free! And it was lovely.
Tony Bedard. Can you tell that I remember names by the banners?
Grady Hendrix and Ryan Dunlavey. Action Philosophers is coming back from Dark Horse, BTW, with new material by Dunlavey and Fred van Lente.
I finally got to meet Tony S. Daniel.
That’s the super talented painted Simone Bianchi on the right…on the left is his colorist whose name I did not write down because I suck.
Nightcrawler’s costume always looks so amazing when brought to life, and this one was doubly amazing for the hobble hoof shoes!
Brooklyn’s Scott Eder Gallery had booth and piles of art by the greatest cartoonists of all times. I noted this pile of (from top left) a Bill Everett Submariner page, a Jack Davis war story, a Jack Kirby Eternals, a Steve Ditko Creeper and on top one of Winsor McCay’s way cartoons, and just about fainted to think that the paper in front of me had been touched by five people of that import. The Eder Gallery has many pieces of this calibre, and I spent a while looking at it.
There were plenty of Watcher eyeballs even by 5 pm Sunday.
As I walked home I caught the Javits Center in the glow of a fantastic sunset.
Again it dawned on me that the building was made to look good from outside, as in this rare sunset seen through an empty glass box. It was never meant to have the huge crowds that NYCC brings.
If EternalCon’s ambiance was entirely because of its quirky setting, Special Edition was a pleasant afternoon almost despite the drawbacks of the venue. The North Hall is definitely a hospitable place to throw a bunch of cartoonists and publishers together. At NYCC it houses Artist Alley and you cold spend a good day just there and not braving any of the other crowds. I think Special Edition was meant to be all the artists without all the fuss…it didn’t quite hit the numbers it should have, but maybe having a calm day for comic-con isn’t the worst thing that can happen.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.