by Amy Chu
Food sadly often takes a back seat at comic cons for pros who are working the shows. But by the time the floor closes everyone’s usually ready for something that’s not a lukewarm hot dog or power bar. Fortunately New York Comic Con is close to some of the Big Apple’s tastiest neighborhoods.
On the first day of the con Thursday, Artist Alley closed at 9 pm one hour after the main floor, which meant several hundred artists were literally starving by the time they left their tables in the North Pavilion. Fortunately, just a few blocks away Times Square and Hell’s Kitchen offered a huge selection of interesting restaurants. Our group ended up at Qi Times Square on 43rd St. and 8th Ave, a modern Thai restaurant with Phillippe Starck furnishings, where the food is authentic and surprisingly affordable. A group of artists including Marvel penciler Jim Cheung (Avengers Vs. X-Men), inker Dexter Vines (Nova), Peter Nguyen, Carl Petersen, Agnes Garbowska, and Eddy Choi, Executive Assistant to DC’s Jim Lee happily downed a range of dishes including the Bangkok fried rice and stewed beef noodle before the kitchen closed at 10:30.
But Friday was the real foodie day for NYCC as hundreds of fans descended upon the Food & Comics panel. The chef speakers included Chris Consentino, owner of the restaurant Incanto and winner of Top Chef Masters, and Geoffrey Zakarian, executive chef of the swanky Lamb’s Club. With iFanboy’s Ron Richards moderating the lively discussion, Zakarian and Consentino described the creative side of the culinary world while Marvel’s most famous foodie and talent scout C.B. Cebulski and artist/foodie Dalibor Talajic (Deadpool, X-men, Ronin) explored the similarities in both fields. The panel is a New York Comic Con tradition, and the brainchild of Cebulski who actively blogs about food on his site Eataku.
A few hours later a much smaller group of fans headed to the Theater district to meet up with Cebulski, Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada and writer Jonathan Hickman for a private four course dinner organized by ReedExpo at Zakarian’s Lamb’s Club. In a private room upstairs, pros and fans swapped favorite comics memories and talked about their projects over glasses of wine. Hickman, who is writing Avengers and New Avengers for the Marvel Now launch in December, generously dispensed advice to new writers. Chef Zakarian circulated, took pictures and signed the guests’ menus. Everyone enjoyed the dishes, which included a savory uni carbonara and beef ribeye. Cebulski loved the steak which he proclaimed to be one of the best pieces of meat he’s had in the city. The Marvel guests graciously played musical chairs so they could meet and talk with everyone in the room.
Saturday night, after packing up at Artist Alley, a large group of artists ventured to Koreatown before the annual Marvel party. Just within walking distance or a short cab ride from the convention center, K-town is a very dense neighborhood with over a hundred restaurants and bars within a short radius around 32nd Street and Broadway. Because of the growing size of our group we headed to Kang Suh, a popular 24 hour restaurant that is remarkably adept at handling last minute table requests. Within 10 minutes they had cobbled together a long table for us. For most of the group it was their first time sampling Korean barbecue which is cooked tableside at the restaurant. Marvel colorist Justin Ponsor (Avengers vs. X-Men) was a big fan of the kalbi short ribs. Brian Shearer (Dr. Who, Transformers) enjoyed the seafood pancake haemul pajeon. Others at the long table included inker Guillermo Ortego and penciler Emma Lupacchino (X-Factor) who are both working with Fred Van Lente on Valiant Comics’ hit Archer & Armstrong, as well as Garbowska, Nguyen, and Cheung from the previous night.
By the time Sunday rolled around so many creators were hungover, tired or busily trying to finish commissions before the show close at 5 pm. We still managed to squeeze in a stop at Hallo Berlin on 10th Ave. between 44th and 45th Streets, in Daredevil’s old neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen, where we enjoyed their signature sausages and beer before heading to our various homes.
Conventions can be tiring, but at least in New York, you can be well fed too.