by Jeffrey O. Gustafson
First, I’d like to thank Heidi MacDonald for giving me the opportunity to report from the convention this year. I’d also like to praise the security and staff at the Jacob K. Javit’s center for accomplishing the very difficult task of corralling the tens of thousands of people who crowded into the building this weekend.
That said, the convention has clearly outgrown the space. Picture this for a second: At the heart of our sun, Hydrogen fuses into Helium, releasing energy and photons. But the photon created at the center takes a thousand centuries to escape the Sun’s core, because it’s just so crowded in there. The elements endlessly bouncing around at the extraordinarily crowded Sun’s core vividly represent what it was like trying to walk around NYCC this weekend.
The Javit’s center is simply not large enough to accommodate the sheer number of people attending the con. Even on Thursday, the main floor was unnavigable, far too packed with people to comfortably explore any of the booths. Friday and Saturday were beyond nuts. I usually avoid the main floor in favor of the panels, but every single panel I attended was standing-room only. Now, I see the latter bit as a positive, that it’s not just a hundred thousand cultural tourists swamping the floor to buy geeky tchotchkes and gawk at booth babes and cosplayers, but large amounts of folks genuinely interested in comics, the people that make them and the people that love them.
The convention’s role, like San Diego, as a pop culture event is undeniable. I see many old-school comickers lamenting the crossover nature of the convention, and that is understandable. It would be nice to have a low-key, uplifting, comic book heavy convention, something like a Heroes Con mixed with an SPX, but in the largest city in the country that is a pipe dream. This is the convention ReedPOP wanted all along, and this is the convention we’re stuck with.
Despite the madness, like every convention I’ve been to, the creators, editors and professionals attending the event have been friendly, accessible and entertaining. If you can wade through the seas of colorfully doffed flesh, you can have a pretty cool encounter with some of the best writers and artists in the industry.
I know the whole weekend was crazy, and so heavily pop culture focused, but I still get all mushy this time of year. I love comics, I love geek culture, and I love New York City. New York Comic Con combines all of these in one glorious, manic weekend. Beneath the throngs of people paying for autographs from B-list celebutards, the cultural tourists and media snobs who have never held a comic in their life, beneath all that lies a glorious celebration of comics, and of the vibrant, accepting, loving communities throughout geek culture.
I really love comics, the storytelling medium, and I really love superhero culture. Sometimes I lament that I’ve never been to San Diego Comic Con, that I’ve never been to Angouleme, or a World Con. And then I walk out of the hideous cubic structure that is the Javit’s center and walk through the streets of my beautiful city, surrounded by my people, walking through midtown at night, glowing and reeking and shining and flawed and perfect, and I remember that I am in New York, the greatest city in the world, my home.
I don’t need San Diego or Angouleme or Baltimore or TCAF or Comiket. I’ve got New York.
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.