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NYCC drew 105,000


Although it may have felt like more, as you were sandwiched between an Optimus Prime on one side and a Harley Quinn on the other, with Mister T coming up close behind, this weekend’s New York Comic Con drew 105,000, show runner Lance Fensterman reports. He also has a recap of some of the main complaints of the show:

We heard loud and clear that many of you felt last year was too crowded and we listened. No doubt the show was busy, but we capped our ticket sales more aggressively so it would not be so “vibrant” as I like to say. We have a formula of gross square feet available to us divided by number of people. We upped that amount by several gross square feet per person this year (we were able to do that and still grow as we added the 4th floor and Javits North).

I’ve heard from a number of fans that they were unhappy with not getting into the IGN Theatre for Avengers and Walking Dead and the organization of the queuing for those events. I agree, it should have been handled better and I am sorry for that, truly. We will have a better plan for queuing in place for next year and we are also looking hard at building out a bigger IGN Theater in another part of the building for next year. No matter though, with 100,000 people and 3,000 seats in the theatre, we will never be able to accommodate all that want to go. Folks were unhappy that we do not clear that room between panels, we never have cleared rooms in 6 years and state it on our web site and I’m not sure that policy will change. Clearing a room of that size after every panel means adding about 40 minutes between panels which would mean about half as much content in that room each day. I do not think that is a good choice there for do not see that policy changing.

Despite this and some other problems, it was still a huge and mostly successful event for the mass market side of comics. We’ll have complete recap and analysis as soon as someone finds our brain.

  1. I thought this year was the most well-organized and despite being crowded, folks moved with… uh, more of a sense of urgency than previous years. Even the picture takers seemed brisk and respectful. The panel lines were a little hectic but I had no problems getting in to anything I wanted to. The volunteers plied us with swag; great strategy!

    It was nice to table for a bit and step back from all the chaos.

    Now if only some great restaurants would open up closer to the Javits!

  2. Will it impact sdcc at all? Is there a point where east coasters who would go to sdcc stop? If not does it mean there’s a market for 3 100k plus shows? Could c2e2 get there?

  3. My wife said that this was the first year that she felt the con is getting ahead of the crowds. Excellent use of the space. There will always be small quibbles, or people who have large ones that apply only to them, but all in all I think this was the best convention yet. And that’s a good sign.

  4. C2E2 competes with Wonder Con (which is why Chicago is in April this year).

    Both C2 and WC have huge convention centers to grow into. Why hasn’t WC grown bigger after 20+ years? Dunno. It could be the focus on comics.

    If C2E2 keeps expanding, then they will become the largest convention… McCormick Place has four times the exhibit space that San Diego has, and which rivals Tokyo Big Sight. Tokyo Komiket attracts 500,000 people. Could a similar number attend C2E2? Or a similar show spread out over Las Vegas’ various convention centers?

    Oh, and Anime Expo is large as well. Turnstile number is 128,000 for 2011.

  5. I honestly feel this was by far the worst large scale convention, professional or hobbyist, I have ever been to. The annual National Society of Black Engineers conference is run better and its run 100% by full-time engineering students, people who could be forgiven for putting together a poorly run convention.

    The complaints with the Walking Dead and Avengers panels were the volunteers and staff filled up a seperate room with people waiting in line and kept reassuring them they would get into the panels only to leave them once the Avengers panel started and left them to wait. Also, there was *no* handicapped seating which is reprehensible.

    The volunteers were either nice but clueless or informed but rude.

    The con floor was horribly run. I was never once checked for a badge and could have walked in and out without ever paying to attend. The entire floor was well beyond crowded and I could barely move no matter where I went.

    Speaking of the freebies, who thought it was a good idea to wheel a container full of Magic cards into the entrance and encourage people to take what they could carry? That was madness where there was no need for it.

    The *only* bright spot was the wonderful Dash Shaw panel. Sadly, there were only 8 people in the audience at its most crowded. Still, Shaw gave a wonderful presentation that made it feel like YAY Comics!

    I will never again choose NYCC over, well, not only SDCC but also staying at home.

  6. This was my first major con in 9 years, so a lot has changed — the cons have grown. While I had a great time and was successful beyond what I expected, I felt very uncomfortable at times. Saturday and Sunday were incredibly overcrowded. No one seemed in charge. Fans, even exhibitors at times blocked isle intersections do all sorts of silly things. One guy was holding a raffle while marched around on stilts.

    Heres what I noticed:

    1. The main presence on the floor was volunteers — they were generally timid, and had no real authority to do anything about any situation that arose.

    2. I didn’t see one cop, except directing traffic on 40th st. and I believe that had to do with Lincoln Tunnel. There’s just too many people in one spot not to have some police — count the number of cops you see if you see at a pro football or baseball game.

    3. The bathrooms got pretty rank. Is it too much to have paper towels?

    4. There were just too many people concentrated in various areas. Reed needs to do a better job getting people to move along. I really felt the place was a fire hazard and there must’ve been some violations going on.

    5. The indy publisher and artist’s alley side of the con had half the the lighting the other side had. Indy side had clusters of 2 lights, the big publishers’ side had clusters of 4. Okay, I get it — I’ll spring for a better spot next time.

    But I still had a great con. As for the people from Reed — they were great. They called me every few weeks to see if I needed anything — best experience I’ve had with a promoter. They just need to straighten out a few things during the event. Really can’t see myself going to SD when I can just drive into the city instead of taking a plane and shipping my stuff. I heart NY.

  7. Another “scratch your head” moment was that at 5pm on Sunday… if the goal was to get people to leave the main floors and exit the building… why were the escalators turned off? Wouldn’t it be better to have nearly all the escalators switched to the down position so that the crowds would more quickly get out? Just station some security at a specific up-escalator, and you’d have full control of access for anyone who needed to go back up to the main show floor.

  8. Here’s my question. So the whole Javitt’s center was used this year. Saturday and Sunday tickets were completely gone, as were 3 Days, by the time Friday came along. So does that mean that the only room for growth is preview night/Friday? Have Saturday/Sunday maxed out at their portion of the 105k attendees? What happens next year when even more people want to come? Will Reed cap ticket sales at that number, or will they let more in, and make the limited space ever more densely packed?

  9. No, the Javits Center is apparently the biggest one. It can handle six simultaneous events and 85,000 people, according to an About.com description.


  10. 1. The escalators were turned off, I assume, for a safety reason. When you have thousands of people coming down them all at once, and they are moving, you’d have a bloody heap at the bottom in no time.
    2. The whole Javts wasn’t used this year. On Thursday there was a trade show downstairs in the Javits. They were breaking it down on Friday, which is why NYCC goers had to line up outside on that day. They could have more vendors down there (and this is where the NYAF was last year), but still some of the downstairs area will probably need to be used for holding lines like they did on Saturday and Sunday.

  11. All of Javits was used, although not all of it was used fully.

    Hall 1B seemed to be empty completely.
    Hall 1C was used for queuing on Saturday and Sunday, and possibly for overflow lines for the IGN Theater (Hall 1D), and the occasional autographing.

    Hall 1E housed the press office. That was where the Anime Artists Alley was last year, to much chagrin.

    Anime Fest traditionally was housed in 1A (panels and hangouts) and 1B (show floor). That show floor was very spacious. Now it’s up in the Galleria, and is just as spacious.

    The New York International Auto Show had 1,000,000 attendance over ten days last year. Friday through Sunday, with two press preview days on Wednesday and Thursday, dealer day on Thursday. $14 a day for adults, $4 for kids.

    Hold a megalopo-con during the summer, and a ten-day show is very feasible. Kids and fans have lots of free time, adults can schedule vacations. This avoids the four-day-pass problem, as people buy single-day passes in sequence.

  12. After reading these complaints I am soooo happy I no longer go to any Comic Conventions.

    I don’t have the patience/tolerance to deal with the crowds and circus-type atmospere anymore. I’ll stay home and read all about it from my computer and nice comfortable chair.

    So if comic books are dying a slow death why is attendance at the assorted big cons growing?!?

  13. why are some folks so grumpy about the size of the crowds that attend this show? of course there’s gonna be large crowds at these types of events, and while there is always room for improvement when it comes to crowd control, this year’s mosh pit wasn’t as bad as last years and much, much better than the very first nycc. i spent most of my time in artist alley where there was always some breathing room to be had and even an empty chair or three if you wanted to take a load off for a minute of two. i found trying to get around on sunday much more difficult than on saturday (at least from my experience, sundays at past nycc shows were always the most quiet of the weekend show days, not this time, sunday seemed much more crowded than saturday).my only complaint would be the smell coming from those rugs that were layed down in those hallways between the main room and artist alley. folks i spoke to said it smelled like rotting salami, sewage, or bad b.o., among other smells (none good). i myself thought it smelled like cat urine . ugh. other than that, the staff and volunteers were polite and helpful, the concession stand lines moved along at a good pace, and i did see cops walking about here and there and even saw someone trying to sneak into the con and was chased down by con security. i also found a much friendlier vibe going on between anime folks and comic folks, which is a good thing, and as always, meeting and greeting the artist and creators in artist alley and scoring some sketches is always a blast. i would recommend this show for anyone thats into this hobby, but would also tell them what to expect once they got there (good and bad).

  14. With regard to Torsten’s comment about WonderCon: “Why hasn’t WC grown bigger after 20+ years?”

    I should point out that WonderCon’s attendance has continued to grow each year we’ve had the event. In 2003 (our first year) the event had less than 9,000 total attendance. This past year attendance was just shy of 49,000. That’s a growth of 544%. Seems like a pretty big growth spurt to me.

  15. I was gonna say….I think SDCC and NYCC are fine as the two huge mega cons of the eyar. Wondercon has grown, as has every other convention in the last decade, but it doesn’t WANT to be a huge megacon.

    I know Fan Expo in Toronto is yet another megacon. It would be great is Chicago could also host a megacon for the Midwest.

    In my NYCC wrap-up (still under wraps) I’ll explain why NYCC now has the same problems — perhaps worse — than SDCC does re venue.

  16. @snikt snak and abc — i’m not grumpy, bring more! clearly there is demand for them. I think everybody would be more comfortable at big shows that were about 75% capacity and easy to attend and striving towards a solution that gets us there. If that means a place with 200k capacity, and 150-160k attendees, then fine. It is not about size for me, but about capacity and ease of attendance.

  17. All of Javits was used, although not all of it was used fully.

    Hall 1B seemed to be empty completely.
    Hall 1C was used for queuing on Saturday and Sunday, and possibly for overflow lines for the IGN Theater (Hall 1D), and the occasional autographing.

    All of the Javits was not used bu NYCC, nor was it availiable:

    HD World Conference And Expo 2011
    Wednesday October 12, 2011 – Thursday October 13, 2011 from 8:00pm – 11:00pm
    Jacob K. Javits Convention Center

    655 West 34th Street
    New York City, New York
    HD World Conference And Expo 2011 is one of the important and interesting event of communications products industry. HD World Conference And Expo 2011 exhibition will showcase all type of inter networking equipment, telecommunication repairs equipments and tools, data and internet over satellite, electronics products.

    This was the show I mentioned above, the one that was on the lower level on preview night (Thursday) and was why the space was not avaliable for holding the line to get in on Friday.

    I don’t work for Reed, I don’t know anyone who does, and I don’t think the con was without flaw. But please stop saying that NYCC had access to the full Javits for the run of the con, because it didn’t. Instead, commend them for using the space they had wisely to provide a safe and relatively comfortable experience for everybody.

  18. @trev – my “grumpy” comment wasn’t aimed at you particularly, but was aimed at folks in general that know what kind of crowds these types of cons will bring, go anyway and then complain about the crowds. i commented above that at the show on sunday it was a beast to get around. i’ve never been to the sdcc, but folks have told me that the convention center there is much larger than the javits center. i’m not sure if there is a bigger place in new york than the javits center to hold a con of this size. if there is maybe they should explore the possibility of holding a show there. as for the show last weekend, i think the factors that create pockets of people going nowhere fast are (1) the simple fact that when in the vendor areas people like to stop and browse, or stop and buy, either way people stop walking and this creates a back up. (2) folks stopping to photograph copslayers. on one side you have cospalyers, on the other photographers, so on either side of the pathway movement gets clusteref**ked. maybe a solution to this problem would be to designate an area specifically for the purpose of cosplayers and photographers to congregate and do their thing. the problem to this solution would be enforcing this policy. (3)the company booths (marvel, dc, dark horse, etc.). these are areas that people will without a doubt stop and block the flow of traffic. so other than placing these booths in the far corners of the room, i’m not sure how to alleviate the traffic jams in those areas. now would only allowing 75% capacity help in ease of movement around the different rooms? sure, it would somewhat, (but the folks that run this show would like to get as many people (to maximize profits) into the building as safely possible, at least i hope that’s how they think when it comes to safety part of the equation)) the thing is even with 75% capacity there would still be tens of thousands of people attending and there would still be pockets of congestion to contend with. i’ve said it before that with shows of this size there is always room for improvement and as the years go by i feel that they are slowly but surely getting there( don’t know if you were at the first nycc show , but man, was that a mess, a mosh pit to remember).

  19. #yayREEDPop!

    Congratulations on NYCC achieving SDCC-esque proportions this year with that 105K attendance numbers! Proof positive of the depth of Nerd/Geek hunger there on the East Coast to experience the yearly multi-media celebration happening each summer in San Diego:
    where it took SDCC 35 years to grow that attendance figure, NYCC achieved in in 6. At the very least, New York now has a viable simulacrum of “Comic-Con” of its own!

    And interesting too, to have the levels of those numbers achieved at Javits this year:

    4/5ths of SDCC’s attendance numbers (1) in a Convention space square-foot total of HALF that of the San Diego Convention Center (2), going to Javits in 3/4ths of the days that SDCC has?

    1)SDCC’s attendance has been capped at 125-130K [are there exact figures released by CCI?
    Torsten?] for the last couple of years to NYCC ’11 figure reported above.

    2)Going by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Javits_Convention_Center and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Diego_Convention_Center numbers stated here. Didn’t realise that Javits was that small, comparatively.

    3) NOT counting NYCC’s “Preview Night” that’s just 3 hrs long (albeit being counted, and priced at a “Full Day”), nor SDCC’s own Weds “Preview Night”. Just counting the actual Full Days: Fri – Sun for NYCC, Th – Sun for SDCC.

    Crunching the numbers above in attendee per day per Convention Center space— NYCC ’11 was definitely more crowded than SDCC, at a density
    TWICE than that at Comic-Con! And that’s the
    average per-day crowd ratio: how was the Javits Exhibit Floor on Sat, the ‘peak day’ of Cons like these? No wonder, for attendees this year, NYCC ’11 “may have felt like more” crowded than the 105K numbers indicated… The past Con-crowds yardstick of ‘SDCC Saturday Exhibit Floor’ (instrumental in the institution of CAPPING Comic-Con’s attendance beginning in 2006) may have now been surpassed?

    Good thing the REEDPop/Javits management had kept NYC’s Fire Marshall away at this year’s Con, then?

    But what of NEXT year, when NYCC ’12 has a great chance of topping SDCC’s 125K (capped) attendance: in a place smaller than SD’s Convention Center… in an event with fewer days than SDCC so far…

  20. Mr. Glanzer, thank you for the numbers.

    I meant to say, “has grown as fast”.

    Doing a little research online, I see that 2006 had a reported attendance of 17,800, and that 2011 had an attendance of 49,000. That’s an average growth of 6,240 a year, which is a good number, and which puts it ahead of similar growth at CCI:SD (which took 33 years to reach what WC reached in 25).

    For the same period, NYCC went from 33,000 to 105,000, an average annual growth of 14,400.

    For that period, WC grew 175% to NYCC’s 218%. Both are impressive numbers.

    I do admit I have not attended Wonder Con (being from the Midwest, I prefer Chicago), nor have I set foot in Moscone to judge the scale. I hold no opinion, but do read the favorable reportage from each show, and do consider it one of the major comics shows in North America, both in size and offerings.

    As a comixologist, I am curious to see how successful the temporary relocation south will be! (And if it might spawn a Los Angeles show…)

    I don’t believe CCI announces attendance numbers anymore… 125K+ seems to be the cap.

  21. Im curious about one thing. The attendance for NYCC was 105,000 but that number also includes the Anime Festival, which had its own convention that drew 20,000 + before they combined the two. So has the growth of NYCC over the past two years been that large or is it the anime fans coming to the party?

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