Who won the comeback and who got caught in the setback? Once again the Comics Beat staff roamed every corner of New York Comic Con to bring you the winners and losers of the show. Read on for our picks. 


WINNER: Virtual Panels – Except for a small handful of panels held over in Javits North, the appearances were all still zoom central. The Main Stage at Javits never saw so few stars at NYCC 2021 because they had all recorded their parts comfortably at home weeks prior. Even some of the in-person panels had virtual attendees. In short, NYCC may be on, but the pandemic ain’t over yet. — Ani Bundel

WINNER: Javits North – No one may have been able to find it the first day, but once everyone did, it was a hit. After years and years of being too small to house NYCC, the Javits finally grew three sizes this day. Say goodbye to hoofing it all over Hell’s Kitchen to MSG and back. Say hello to the Empire Stage, gorgeous views of the Hudson, and the nicest bathrooms in town. — Ani Bundel

LOSER: NYCC’s Panel Lineups – Disney already long ago realized it didn’t need SDCC/NYCC if it threw D23. However, the pandemic got other production studios aboard that train as well. It felt like a deliberate middle finger when WarnerMedia dropped the trailer for the upcoming FanDome 2021 on NYCC’s first day, on a weekend with no CW shows present, and no major Warner Bros. Pictures releases on hand. With no Netflix either due to TUDUM, NYCC began to feel like the parking lot for studios who just haven’t got their act together yet to do their own virtual things. — Ani Bundel

WINNER: THE EXPANSE — THE EXPANSE usually announces a lot at its NYCC panel; it did in 2019, it did in 2020, and it did in 2021, too. Even though it was a virtual panel, the Zoom recording was snappy, they released their first trailer and gave a release date for their final season. All in all, a smashing success for the little space show that could (only on Amazon Prime). –Ruth Johnson

LOSER: No vetted Q&As — At the major panels, the host had to basically plead with the audience to actually ask questions, and questions that made sense, too. Still, we got plenty of “I have a comment, actually, not a question” and some really weird, uncomfortable moments. Other cons have fans submit questions before or during the panel, allowing for some quality control. There’s no good reason to continue the tradition of everyone wanting to flee the room once fan questions start, ReedPop. — Ruth Johnson

WINNER: Anime fans — With Funimation and Viz having large presences, as well as vendors with plenty of related products (toys, prints, pins, etc.) there were lots of ways for anime fans to spend their time, attention, and money. — Johanna Draper Carlson

 

Photo Via Mark London

WINNER/LOSER: Traditional American comic fans — The big American publishers stayed home, meaning no big panels or announcements, but those who were willing to venture outside their usual universes could sample some intriguing-looking books from mid-range publishers such as Mad Cave and Aftershock. — Johanna Draper Carlson

LOSER: Anyone who wanted social distancing — It didn’t happen. Lines everywhere, and crowds. The aisles, particularly in Artist Alley, were wider than usual, but they still filled up, and the “person who doesn’t realize how far back their backpack extends” was frequently seen. Hopefully the vaccine checks and masking will make it less of an issue. — Johanna Draper Carlson

WINNER: Scott SnyderAs if having an entire month named after you wasn’t enough – Comixology’s “Scottober” promotion was everywhere, even subways – Snyder and his “We Have Demons” collaborator Greg Capullo kicked off their Originals series with packed signings and a panel (disclosure: moderated by me) and generally being the star of the show – or as Donny Cates tweeted: “Seriously, watching him work this comic con is a sight to behold. What an absolute legend. A brilliant talent and and an even better friend, teacher and mentor. Congratulations, man.” – HM

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WINNER: Donny CatesCates capped off his con by purchasing Garry Leach’s cover to Miracleman #1. Now he just has to invite people over to his house to see it hanging on the wall. – HM

LOSER: The panel registration system — ReedPOP set up a system to pre-register for popular panels in the large rooms and it was a complete disaster. The online system for registering didn’t work, and at the show, security wasn’t checking for whether people who entered the main rooms had registered or not. The biggest kerfuffle was at The Boys panel where they let in a giant throng of people without checking, and people who had registered got locked out. Organizers acknowledged that the procedure didn’t work, and apologized at the talk back panel. – HM

WINNER: Indie Comics Publishers — The lack of big comic publisher booths at the show meant other publishers who don’t get to share in the spotlight finally had their chance this year. Of particular note was Mad Cave and BEHEMOTH, both of which were open to interviews and ready to promote their future projects both in comics and, in the case of Behemoth, in video games. -Ricardo Serrano

WINNER/LOSER: The Press Room — In previous years, the press room at the Javits has been somewhat of a frustrating place to do one’s writing or even interviews. The space was shared with the convention’s Cosplay Center and it was LOUD. This year, cosplayers were relocated and the area was quiet. It had a ton of tables and enough space to socially distance…except most tables didn’t have electrical outlets and the ones that did meant people would converge on them in large numbers. No social distancing there. Also, the WIFI was having issues the first day of the convention and the electrical outlets took some time to be installed. -Ricardo Serrano

WINNER/LOSER: Crowds and Con Energy — This year’s con was not as hectic or crowded as in previous years, for obvious reasons. On the one hand, it made walking the show floor a more pleasant experience and I never felt trapped in a crowd of people in one of the several spots I’d have previously. On the other hand, this meant the con’s energy was entirely different. While being one of the massive comic events of the year at any other moment in time, this show felt like NYCC-lite more than anything. You really didn’t need a 4-day pass to see everything. One day would’ve been enough. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but during certain moments, I missed the crowds. – Ricardo Serrano

WINNER: Storm King Comics booth — Sandy King and John Carpenter’s Storm King comics has been rising through the ranks in these past few years with yearly horror anthologies and self-contained horror series that have that John Carpenter flavor injected into their books. Their most recent venture took them into kids horror comics under the Storm Kids label and they’ve been largely successful at it. Their booth was packed with people showing their love for kids horror comics throughout the 4-day show. -Ricardo Serrano

WINNER: DMC (Darryl McDaniels) — We don’t talk enough about every NYCC without fail, the rap legend opts not to hide behind the autographing area with other celebrities (many of whom are considerably less famous than him) but instead to slum it at Artist Alley at his “Darryl Makes Comics” table with all the regular Joes of comics like writers and artists. Sure, he charges a little for signatures, but his commitment to remaining a “man of the people” and an authentic comics personality in spite of his fame is remarkable. Plus, his panel on the business of comics with Amy Chu, Ming Chen, and Riggs Morales was excellent. — Gregory Paul Silber

LOSER: Hand Sanitizer — Look, I know COVID-19 exposure is more about exposed to things in the air than surfaces, but go to the counter of any little store in NYC and there’s always a big tub of hand sanitizer. This is something Reedpop should make widely available every year, let alone in the midst of a pandemic. Would it have blown their budget to place hand sanitizing stations around the Javits Center? — Gregory Paul Silber

WINNER: The A.V. Crew — Moderator Ming Chen kicked off his panel by encouraging the audience to applaud for “the sound guys” who “don’t get enough love” and he was right. I was so nervous about moderating my first panel, but these guys made sure everything from my slideshow to the mics to the video ran smoothly. — Gregory Paul Silber

LOSER: Signs — A lot more could have been done to literally point people in the right direction and avoid so much needless confusion. The new wing wasn’t actually that hard to get to, but it wouldn’t have taken much to lead the way when it’s not clear you’d have to go outside the main building to get there. — Gregory Paul Silber

WINNER: Loki variant cosplayers– Much like Thorlebowski in 2019, everyone predicted that Loki would be the popular convention cosplay after the hit Disney+ series. Sure enough, there was no shortage of Loki variants at NYCC. Alligator Loki in particular and President Loki were the most ubiquitous. Not as many Mobius on jet ski cosplayers as I expected. — Taimur Dar

LOSER: Anyone who didn’t get into the Ghostbusters: Afterlife panel– Due to the aforementioned failure of the pre-registration system, many fans who didn’t show up early enough got shut out of the Ghostbusters: Afterlife panel. Thus, they missed out on getting to see the film a whole month earlier when the filmmakers screened the film as a surprise. As excited as I was to see the film, I was running on fumes by Friday night at NYCC. I definitely have to see the film again in theaters because I just wasn’t in the right head space. Plus I didn’t get home and eat dinner until 10pm and it threw off my clock for the rest of the weekend. — Taimur Dar

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LOSER: Cardio —We were not ready. I heard time after time from people that they were exhausted, had blisters, felt out of shape, were not mentally ready. 18 months of various degrees of quarantine left a lot of us housebound and suddenly being plunged into even the Lite version of a New York Comic Con was a draining physical challenge that highlighted just how much has changed during this Pandemic. – HM

WINNER: Bin Divers — If you headed into NYCC hoping to score some quality comics on the cheap, you probably succeeded! There were many back issue bins priced at $1, $2 and $3 around the dealer area of the show floor, and they were stocked with gold! Marvels #1-4 in great shape for less than cover price? Yes, please! If trades and hardcovers are more your thing, bargains were aplenty there as well. Boxes full of $5-$7 trades and $10 hardcovers were plentiful at NYCC. — Billy Henehan

LOSER: Soft Pretzel Enthusiasts — Okay, sometime over the last two years, the Javits Center must have changed their soft pretzel supplier, and not for the better. The Javits soft pretzel was a NYCC staple: it tasted good, and had that right amount of carbs and salt to power you through the rest of a long day at the con. But no more. The pretzels looked different this year, which was a sign something was up. And the two I tried both tasted like yesterday’s pretzels, stale in some parts, soft in others, but disappointing all around.  — Billy Henehan

WINNER: 1980s X-Men Fans — Chris Claremont was an announced guest early on. On top of that, John Romita Jr made an unannounced appearance on Friday and Saturday, sketching and signing at the Desert Winds booth. A friend of mine happened to be standing behind JRJR at security Friday morning and asked if he would be sketching this weekend, to which JRJR responded, “I brought my pencil and sharpener!” Hopefully you got your copy of Uncanny X-Men #207 double signed this weekend! — Billy Henehan

LOSER: Sunday — Oh, Sunday at NYCC. You’re always surprisingly frustrating, half full of hungover convention goers barely standing on their tired legs after three marathon days at the Javits, and half full of families taking advantage of the Kids’ Day ticket, clueless parents not sure how to get around the Javits and suddenly regretting bringing a stroller with them. Add to this the frustration of this year, where mask compliance dropped precipitously on Sunday after three strong days. In my first 15 minutes inside NYCC on Sunday, I saw more people unmasked than I had the previous 3 days combined, and each one had a look on their face that said IDGAF. — Billy Henehan

WINNER: Dealers and Artists — Yes, NYCC was less crowded than most years (you will never hear me complain about this by the way), but those who were there were buying. From talking to multiple dealers on the show floor and artists and Artist’s Alley, business was booming all weekend, from Thursday through Sunday. There weren’t as many people at NYCC, but those that were there were there to spend! Should I have listed the winner as “Commerce”? — Billy Henehan

WINNER: New York Comic Con –  It was back and it was needed and it was joyful. – HM

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Winner (I hope): The young lady who carried a cardboard sign that read: “I’m a single geeky girl wanting to date a geeky guy. Ask me out. I’m serious!”. When I asked her how she was doing, she said “Surprisingly bad”. Come on, nerds! I hope she found love!

    Loser: The cosplayer I overheard say this when asked for picture: “Oh no. I’m really shy. I don’t like pictures”. Uh…what? :)

  2. Another observation, that probably goes to the LOSER column–book readers. NYCC has always had a good bunch of book publisher exhibitors, showing off science-fiction, fantasy, young reader, and otherwise nerd-friendly books, but not this year. There were a few author panels and signings, but most of the major publishing houses–even the New York ones–seem to have sat this one out.

  3. It’s funny, I didn’t have any issues getting into panels I registered for. That said, there were mixed messages about having to show your confirmation email to get in, but then the folks at the door just tapped my badge in, which made way more sense. I didn’t even bother with whatever went down with the main hall except for the George Takei panel, which was awesome, and I got a pretty good seat.
    I am not at all surprised that other events there did not go smoothly, as ReedPop has been historically awful at separating those that reserved ahead of time from those that just show up. It’s just one big line.

    Didn’t do The Boys panel. but got a picture with Jack Quaid, who is a cool young dude. He’s terrific in Star Trek Lower Decks, BTW.
    But the new North building is great. spacious, good access, (though I wonder if we overtaxed the escalators or someone thought turning some off would help traffic control -THAT DOES NOT WORK) and functional air conditioning, and the layout allowed for lots of little cosplay shoots by he windows without impeding traffic at all. Only two real downsides – 1) the community rooms where fan run tables were is at the back of the building and that’s not clearly indicated, so they cant pull in a lot of passing traffic. 2) The photo op/autograph area was at the far end of the main building, so you effectively had to walk 4 blocks to get between the two.

    Overall, the reduced crowds and increased spacing made it a much more comfortable experience for me and I wish it could stay like this (sans the masks, once it’s safe to do so). If they try to go back to 2018 and 2019 attendance levels I’m out. Pre-pandemic I was dreading NYCC 2020 because the crowding was so terrible in 2019, I honestly wasn’t planning on going. It was only the promise of reduced numbers and strict protocols that convinced me.

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