ReedPOP head honcho Lance Fensterman has been doing the interview rounds of late including this podcast for More to Come where I interviewed him as he was boarding a plane. (he’s a busy guy.) In our conversation he hedged a bit about this year’s Special Edition, NYC, and in his interview with Comicbook.com, it was made official: that show isn’t happening this year.
To that end, ReedPOP will be re-focusing their efforts on the core NYCC experience this year, and won’t be putting on their secondary show, Special Edition: NYC, held early summer for the last couple of years, a spokesman told ComicBook.com. That show had a much stronger focus on comic books, but the added two days of content to produce had to go toward trying to make NYCC a city-wide event.
The spin here is that in order to expand NYCC outside the restrictive confines of the Javits Center, it’s moving to more and more venues around the city, which makes sense.
It is sad though. The first SP:NYC was held in 2014 in the same room as the truly awesome Artist Alley of NYCC. And it was just a big artist alley that year. Some scheduling problems (the same week as two other local shows) raised a few hackles of the locals and though it was a great show to get autographs and visit. However, attendance was low.
The 2015 event was held in Pier 92, a more problematic and dystopian setting. It was better attended, but still didn’t have that spark of NYCC’s artist alley. I think with some nurturing it could have become an impressive show, but resources are being expended in a more fruitful direction for now. Sometimes you gotta just grow the brand you have before you launch a new one.
In our interview, Fensterman hinted that the Special Edition idea could be held elsewhere, although where on the busy schedule would be a good question. He was more bullish, however, on the idea of bringing back an event more focused on Manga and Anime. New York Anime Fest was another show that was folded into NYCC when the manga/anime industry contracted, but Manga/anime are looking a lot healthier these days. I asked if ReedPOP might revisit that idea and he told me:
“Totally. And for a few reasons. As NYCC grows outside the building, we have to take over more of the city and it opens up opportunities for satellite events in a format that that maybe fit that category better, that aren’t big publisher and exhibitor shows. If you had a different physical structure or format, you could cater to those awesome fans.” He also pointed out that the anime business is a lot more robust than it was when NYAF came and went. “The reason anime [and manga] is coming back is that the format’s gotten corrected. There are players like Crunchyroll that are massive media sites, and what role would they have in putting on a fan event.”
New York City is not lacking in comics-oriented events. There’s MoCCA, the Big Apple shows, Grand Comics Fest (Although their website has been removed), Comic Arts Brooklyn, outside the city proper a bit The East Coast Comic Con in Jersey, Eternal Con (expanding to three days this year), Winter Con, zine fests, the Brooklyn Book Festival and a million other things like Star Trek, autographs and the kitchen sink. I’m sure I’ve forgotten about a dozen. Anyway, there is a lot to do. Special Edition had the potential to be a great warm-weather event, but the reality is…it’s still mad expensive to throw a show in NYC and getting pricier by the second. The only other “big” show that’s held in Manhattan is MoCCA and they’ve had to move twice times in three years. The Big Apple Cons are also held here but their venue, the Penn Plaza Pavilion is in danger of being torn down every year.
And as we’ve mentioned maybe abut a thousand times, the Javits itself is too small for New York Comic Con. In his interview at Newsarama,Fensterman talks more about moving outside and the general trajectory of comics events:
Nrama: I’d like to get back to the specialized shows you’re doing, like the Star Wars event, in a minute. But talking about comic book conventions, when you call something a “comic con,” there are fans that are concerned whether there will actually be comic book. Do you have a conscious mix for comic book conventions, and do you worry at all that you’re going to have too little or too much comics?
Fensterman: We’re always cognizant of it. And if you look at Emerald City Comic Con, C2E2, New York Comic Con — they all are firmly rooted in comics. You know, you look at the guest lists and they are very predominantly artists and writers in the comic book space. We always say a show like that, like a comic con, you build around comics. Right? But we also know “comic con” is really a general pop culture show. So you kind of have your core of comic books, which we never try to stray from, but the you move outward into other areas, whether it’s toys or video games or Japanese pop culture, or film and television. And you add those elements as well, around that core. So yeah, we’re cognizant of it, because that’s the original content. That’s where it comes from.
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.