In it’s fourteenth year, New York Comic Con runs somewhat smoothly for an event of this size. There weren’t any major controversies like overselling tickets, strawman-tweeting, or ADA headaches seen in the past – although the NYCC bathrooms issue continues to leave people squirming. (I like to say, ReedPOP does make mistakes, but they rarely make the same mistake twice.)
That’s not to say people didn’t have concerns or complaints (this is New York, after all). New York Comic Con staff – including Ryan Will, Mike Armstrong, Christine Rogers, Erica Casner, Fallon Prinzivalli, James McNerney and Britney Rivera – listened for 75 minutes as attendees let the staff know what went right and wrong, as well as making suggestions on how to make the next show even better.
Here are the highlights:
The Javits Center is in the middle of a massive expansion which will double the size of the facility. Unfortunately, that means that the modern and spacious bathrooms in the former North Hall no longer exist, that the show is now compressed into “old” Javits, and that the facilities designed in the 1980s which barely accommodated massive crowds at the best of times overflowed as men had to stand in line.
This is not a new problem, as this situation has existed since 2017. ReedPOP did try to mitigate this with portable toilets placed outside, near the food trucks, underneath the roadway. (I never noticed them, nor any informational signage in the main building.)
There were three gender-neutral NYCC bathrooms designated at the show, and in a show of solidarity or just plain New Yorker indifference, women did use male bathrooms if the opportunity allowed. (New York State has passed a law, awaiting the Governor’s signature, which would make all restrooms in state facilities gender-neutral.)
Another concern was the actual branding of the bathrooms. At least one men’s room advertised Big Mouth, including a large graphic on the mirrors. This encouraged photography, which is not a Good Idea in a restroom.
Panels, Off-Site Events, Lotteries
New York Comic Con continues to use nearby venues for larger events. This enlarges the square footage of the event and encourages fans to leave the crowded confines of the convention center, reducing the crush of attendees at Javits.
In previous years, both the Hammerstein Ballroom and the Theater at Madison Square Garden had strict limitations on what could be brought in from outside, which included food and drink. Hammerstein revoked that restriction this year, while attendees at MSG either had to sneak stuff in, or claim a medical exception.
The Walking Dead panel at MSG was scheduled for the late evening, which meant they camped out in the theater. This caused a bit of embarrassment at the Picard event, both during a standing ovation and during the panel, as TWD fans’ attention was directed elsewhere. (Simple solution: clear the theater. Complex solution: distribute tickets to each panel, just like MSG does for almost every other event.)
Tom Hiddleston and Paul Rudd took a break from their busy schedules to pose for photos and sign autographs over two days. (Rudd: $225 for a photo, Hiddleston: $250) If you didn’t have that moolah, you were out-of-luck, as there were no spotlight panels for fans to attend. (Although you can see Hiddleston on Broadway for as little as $25.) The reason: busy schedules. (Rudd is filming Ghostbusters.)
There were complaints about some line management for larger panels, notification of lottery seats, and the last-minute (11:33 AM>>>1:00 PM) announcement via Twitter of Ryan Reynolds at the Main Stage.
SURPRISE 🚨 Ryan Reynolds @VancityReynolds will take the stage for 20TH CENTURY FOX PANEL: An Insider’s Look at “The King’s Man” and “Free Guy” on the Main Stage 1-D. All seats are first come first serve, so head over right now!
— New York Comic Con (@NY_Comic_Con) October 3, 2019
Attendees suggested that notifications of lottery seats be made sooner, and that those seats include extra perks. (Hammerstein and MSG both had reserved sections.)
The sponsored Wi-Fi was lauded.
The Lyte badge exchange worked well for reselling badges. There were some communication concerns, but overall it worked well. (I had a friend who had some difficulty getting a badge transferred from another friend, but after a lengthy phone call, it was achieved.)
Online communication was troublesome. Lottery notifications were late, or were unclear. Replies were not immediate, but were answered.
Anime Fest @ NYCC was moved to the Hudson Mercantile this year, placing it much closer. Some fans were not wowed by the experience. (The Beat was there.) This year, it had a two components: a show floor that any NYCC attendee could visit; and ticketed events. Anime and manga has always been a difficult topic for ReedPOP to promote. With Anime NYC scheduled for November 15-17 at Javits, there is competition for this fandom. Once Javits expands in 2021, it might improve.
The Press Lounge this year was…challenging. Located in the fourth floor River Pavilion, it shared floor space with Cosplay Central. While the cosplay area worked well with exhibitors (who knew that Brother made sewing machines, and did so before typewriters!), meetups, and panels, it did affect the press area next door. The cosplay stage was near the curtain wall denoting the press area, which didn’t help with concentration. The banquet tables of previous years were improved by replacing them with long rectangular tables. However, the chairs at the tables migrated elsewhere. If you had a seat, you needed a portable battery, as electrical outlets were non-existent. (Power strips were shared.) Refreshments were also in short supply… the lone water cooler quickly emptied. (Note to publicists: host a small food event in the press lounge, or in one of the meeting rooms! While press is noshing, promote your latest-and-greatest. It probably costs less than a day of food services at a location shooting.)
Family HQ disappeared for a year. ReedPOP says it will return next year.
The ADA quiet room was abused, and needs to be monitored.
A construction gate was accidentally left open overnight, and fans began to line up in that area. This was quickly corrected by ReedPOP staff.
Complaints were made over the priority mailing fee charged for badge delivery. ReedPOP uses this as many badges were lost using regular mail.
At least one of the fan meetups lacked a “cat-herder”. The fans quickly organized themselves.
Mike Armstrong had a final announcement. James McNerney, Content Manager for ReedPOP, will be vacating his position as he studies to become a nurse! Not all superheroes wear capes (although nurses sometimes do…) !