Were indies and lit comics squeezed out of New York Comic-Con? Josh Neufeld says yes. Discuss.

I hate to be a hater, BUT I THOUGHT THE NEW YORK COMIC-CON SUCKED! I’ve written approvingly of the con in the past, but it’s been steadily going downhill, and this past weekend was its nadir. When they started the show in 2006, they made a concerted effort to attract alternative and “literary” publishers and cartoonists, which they balanced with an understandably mostly mainstream vibe, and I appreciated the influx of potential new readers.

But then last year, the show began seriously tilting toward the same superhero/manga/gaming/merchandising thrust of the other mega-cons like San Diego and Chicago; and this year, it was full-bore. In 2007, although it was a bit of a pain squeezing through the crowds, I was still able to see friends and compatriots like Chris Staros of Top Shelf, Sheila Keenan at Scholastic, Mark Siegel at First Second, and the like; this year, I couldn’t find any of them. (I know, I know, Sheila is no longer with Scholastic, but you get the point.) Granted, I showed up with Phoebe at about 1 pm on Saturday, which was probably the craziest time, but it was a madhouse, a zoo, a freak show, a … you get the drift. I can’t say enough how unpleasant it is to be jostled, squeezed, and b.o.-bombarded by hordes of Star Wars stormtroopers, flabby people in superhero suits, and wannabe Suicide Girls!

I saw a small Fantagraphics table, but absolutely no other representatives of — or cartoonists from — the alternative industry. Even the Vertigo booth (they were kind enough to provide me a free pass due to my work on American Splendor) was so packed and chaotic, that I didn’t dare venture in there to say hi to editors Jonathan Vankin and Mark Doyle. (I did spot dangoldman, signing copies of Shooting War, and briefly spoke to man_size before he did a panel, but that was really it in terms of folks I knew.) I guess after last year, there was a general consensus by folks with non-mainstream agendas to skip this show. I wish I had gotten the memo!


  1. Harrumph, harrumph! At the risk of being opportunistic–or more correctly, displaying my opportunism openly–I would point out that this year’s HeroesCon is boasting its most mind-boggling indie guest list ever. Seriously, I’ve been working on the seating for Indie Island all morning, and it’s a pretty AWESOME group of big namers (Huizenga, Harkham, Hernandez, O’Malley) and studly up-and-comers (Longstreth, Zettwoch, Baillie). If Mr. Neufeld is within the sound of my voice, I’d invite him to come down to where the flavor is this summer.

  2. Dustin, the Indie Island at HeroesCon looks amazing. Honestly, it’s been the buzz of indie creators at both cons I’ve been to this year (both, admittedly, within 3-4 hours driving time of Charlotte).

  3. I noticed the same lack of indie stuff, which is why I hung around the Indie Spinner Rack table in Podcast Alley all weekend. They had constant signings going on with like Julia Wertz, Jamie Tanner, Alec Longstreth, Sarah Glidden, and a bunch of others! I felt like they were really representing the indie peeps at NYCC.

  4. I don’t know if I agree with this. I saw lots of my small press buddies. No small press people that I know opted to skip the show. There were a lot of them at the Indie Spinner Rack booth for instance. But I did pretty much avoid spending time at the con on Saturday. I just came in and out for my noon signing. Part of it was because I had to leave early due to family commitments, but as expected, I enjoyed Friday and Sunday the most. I think the best plan if you’re trying to network and catch up with friends is to come during the slower times. Friday afternoon and night is probably the very best time for that.

  5. I think this is why the 2007 layout was better. In addition to the fact this is New York and there are 17 million people within a 2 hour commute, having everything packed into one room means all the smaller arty folk have to contend with and compete against the DJs, video-game boothgasms, and overly rabid superhero-centric folk (I freely admit to spending a good chunk of time waiting near the DC for some face time with Grant Morrison, but who wouldn’t).

    If they can go back to the 2007 layout, have the lower hall open for the big booths, the media stuff, and the retailers, and then have artist alley and the indie stuff upstairs, and beyond that the gamers, well that was just a nicer experience. It was quieter when trying to chat-up an artist, instead of a collected dull-roar throughout the whole thing, and it was easier to navigate. The massive hall this years con was placed in was just too much. While I did see Mark Siegel at 01:02, I didn’t manage to find the Indie Spinner Rack guys until my guest for the weekend told me where they were towards the end of the day on Sunday, and even after 3 days I did not see everything.

    And while I am a dick for saying this, 2009 could use a nutrition center or exercise room, and panelists need to start urging dieting and exercise among fans. I think Agnes Skinner said it best, “Children sure are fat these days.”

  6. The only problem with the 2 floor layout was that there were often major foot traffic blockages and lines to get up there and the aisles were very narrow. I preferred this year’s layout. Perhaps ironically there was actually a fitness convention going on in one of the lower spaces at the same time as NYCC.

  7. Meh– he didn’t look hard enough. There was everyone from Mike Diana there to many indy companies from APE Entertainment, Webcomics like Looking for Group, Arcana, Platinum, and countless others. I found plenty of mini comic fare over in the artist alley section, and it was just the kind I like… NEW KINDS from people I’ve never heard of before.

  8. Bill, what convention were YOU at! The Artist’s Alley last year was the scene of a HORRIBLE bottleneck that had people packed like sardines on Saturday and peak hours Friday.

    At least that’s how I remember it.

  9. Like Abby, I’m not sure I was at the same show as Josh. I know it was a terrific show for us at Oni Press–from interacting with existing fans to sharing our work with new readers to talking to more librarians and educators than I’ve ever seen at a non-library show–it was a convention that still felt like it was about comics. I felt like the New York con gave us a great booth location and we were right across the aisle from First Second where marketing maven Gina Gagliano repeatedly had to return to the office to get more books to replenish the stock that was flying off the shelves at the booth. I didn’t get to see Chris Staros or the Top Shelf booth for more than a few minutes, but that’s because of the steady flow of fans and pros that were circulating around our own booth all weekend.

    In terms of programming, I thought it was incredibly indie friendly show. Oni Press staffers were asked to participate on 3 different non-Oni panels, and the turn-out and fan response to each was even better than I hoped for!

    That said, New York Comic-Con *IS* an expensive show and with the proximity to MoCCA’s annual June show this year (previous and future NYCC’s will be in February), I can see several indie and arthouse publishers choosing to focus on that show instead of divide their often-times limited resources between two shows in the same city roughly 6 weeks apart.

    Just another (indie) POV…

  10. As an indie person with a booth in aisle 2200 (or 2300? We were #2247), I felt like we indies had a great presence. Our booth was a fun-filled party the whole weekend, and independent creators filled the tables surrounding us.

  11. I saw a lot of booths with ‘independent’ publishers, and a decent number of independent creators. Not to mention all of the creators who do work for both. I don’t know how Mr. Neufeld failed to see them, and I seriously doubt that he ‘hates to be a hater’. Maybe if he spent last time poking fun at the people in costumes, he would’ve seen them.

  12. I dunno… I spent the whole weekend looking across “aisle 2400” at the Top Shelf booth and I’m sure the other publishers mentioned were represented in some way (or they just didn’t have the people or money to work an East Coast show?) There was certainly a ton of congestion on the far north end of the floor where all the major (and majorish) companies were set up, but there was also steady stream of people moving through our section of small press booths and the nearby Artist’s Alley. And there was certainly no lack of cross-stream (as in mainstream to Indie) content over the three days of panels.

    As for the housing of the show, the “one room” we were all packed into this year was about three times the size of the main room last year… and then all the panels and screenings and food stuff was outside in other areas.

    “Podcast Alley” was on the extreme opposite side of the floor from any of the small press stuff, so if that was as far as you walked during the show, you didn’t get your money’s worth.

    The show was great from my perspective…

  13. I saw a fair number of indie people and publishers, but they were pretty spaced out. Top Shelf, Fantagraphics, Evil Twin, Wave Blue World, Oni, The Comics Bakery, Stickman, PiggyBack, MoCCA, Royal Flush, First Second, Dumbrella and Indie Spinner Rack all had tables that I stopped at, but there were vast expanses of action figures and “witty” t-shirts between them all. The variety was great this year, but I preferred the “organization” last year, when there was at least one indie within sight of each other.

  14. Hey all. I never said Top Shelf, First Second, et al. weren’t there — I just wasn’t able to find ’em in the throngs. As far as Podcast Alley, it was situated way, way at the back, at the furthest possible spot from the entrance. It happened to be the only place I was able to draw a breath before plunging back into the masses of sweating bodies. Which was nice for me, but says a lot about how isolated that area was.

    For all I know, Artists’ Alley may have been a nice locale for mini-comix sellers and the like, but I always find that kind of ghettoization depressing. It’s that insidious grab-bag of self-publishing mainstream wannabes, infirm superhero artists from the 40s, and the occasional undiscovered gem indy cartoonist which again reinforces the anachronistic concept that we in the “industry” are all appealing to the same eyeballs.
    And, no offense, but I don’t really think of Oni as “indy” — not in the way Fantagraphics, D&W, Top Shelf, and Alternative are indy…

  15. First Second’s Booth was the same size as Image. Oni Press and ASP had the same size space and they were pretty big.

    Fantagraphics obviously didn’t have their hearts in it and had a sad booth. I can understand they didn’t want to dedicate money to NYCC when they can just get a stronger and more concentrated presence for a lesser price at MOCCA which is a little more than a month later.

    I am just flabbergasted by his comments that the con being manga or superhero friendly means that “nothing at the show really was about comics, about great stories, exciting art, innovative uses of the form.”

    Yeah, cons are about people having a good time and enjoying in this case superhero comic, manga, small press books, gaming, and whatever nerd stuff. I personally don’t care for everything at the con, but the truth is its a large scale con and there is something insanely fun about the madness.

    If you aren’t in to that, then I would not suggest ever going to a large scale con. It is not for you, but don’t say it’s not about great stories and exciting art. It just makes you sound like a pompus indie douchebag and if that means MOCCA is gonna be full of jerks like you, I really hope it gets too large so it’s not hip enough for you to go. I’ll hate to show up and hear you complain that “superhero” fans have ruined another good show.

  16. I have to say that I liked the layout this year much better than last year’s. There were bottlenecks, sure, but with 64,000 people in attendence that’s bound to happen. I found the indie folks I was looking at the Comics Bakery, ASP, and other booths easily enough once I checked the listings. I don’t see how a larger crowd size means there’s less alternative comics. There were three rows worth of indie publishers and studios over by artist alley. Mr. Neufeld’s argument seems to say he’d rather the con not have anything popular.

  17. The only books I bought at the show were from Top Shelf, First Second, and Fantagraphics. I even met Jeffrey Brown and got an awesome sketch from Jeff Lemire at the Top Shelf booth. The only publisher I felt was really “missing” which would have made the show even better was AdHouse.

  18. I saw a small Fantagraphics table, but absolutely no other representatives of — or cartoonists from — the alternative industry.

    Considering the amount of time I spent in Artist’s Alley, Oni’s booth, ASP’s booth, Penny Farthing’s Booth, and trying to edge into First Second’s booth, this guy is either a liar or using some definition of “alternative industry” that no one else is.

  19. ASP Had a fantastic booth with creators, showcased lots of their smaller books too. First Second’s booth seemed dead next to it, the only book I wanted to pick up wasn’t even on sale until Sunday, for no reason I was able to discern.

    You have to have people and creators at your booth shilling for it to be interesting. And frankly I discovered more books this year than I did last year. Unless Indies are being priced out of their tables (which it appears that they aren’t, after all, they did have the tables) they just have to bring something more to the table than just a discount.

  20. Pedro: I see that but your phrasing was a little harsh, as is the “liar” comment above. Let’s all dial it down, people!

  21. There wasn’t a huge indie presence, but it was there.

    I’ve never even BEEN to a big con before but, I have to say, I enjoyed tabling here because it wasn’t MoCCa. Now, I LOVE MoCCA but it was fun seeing people step up to our table because it looked so different with it’s full mini-comics load.

    I don’t feel like I fit in, nor am I sold on doing it again, but it was nice to not preach to the choir (so to speak). And for three days the value was great! Of course, I did split one half a table. Cheapest con for me ever!

  22. As I said in the discussion thread of my original LJ post, I have 25 years of large-scale cons under my belt—and that’s 25 years worth of geek/junk culture overload! Since I long ago lost interest in getting autographs from my favorite cartoonists, or filling gaps in my Doom Patrol collection, that element of these cons have lost their allure. And now NY Comic-Con has turned into just another one of those monsters. It’s not surprising, just a little disappointing. Live and learn.

    I sincerely apologize that I don’t get excited by the vast majority of superhero/manga comics. I mean, I don’t read (prose) mysteries, but since there are probably some great mysteries being written today, I’m should be obligated to read them, right? Sarcasm aside, it’s a matter of taste, and I believe I’m allowed to have different tastes.

    Also, you have to agree that the overriding sensation of these giant cons is a multimedia assault on your senses. It’s not a “reading” vibe — that’s what I mean about it not being about COMICS. Don’t know how much more clear I can be on this point.


    — Pompous Indy Douchebag

  23. The liar comment may have been out of line. My apologies on that.

    At the same time, though, his Josh’s con experience was almost diametrically opposed to the experience of myself and most people I know. I had a long conversation with Brandon Thomas and Marc Deering of the Miranda Mercury team at the ASP booth. I discovered a bunch of books that I never would have otherwise seen, including the incredible Misericordia. I bought exactly three comics featuring superheroes this year. All the rest of my time and money was spent speaking to people who are pretty much completely indie. There was a corridor near the entrance of the hall (starting at the CBLDF booth and going back to ASP) that featured a bunch of indie companies.

    Dark Horse, DC, and Marvel had their own space staked out, yeah, but there was plenty to see that wasn’t mainstream. I feel that, as a show based around comics, NYCC was a success. I found new comics, rediscovered old ones, and had a great time interacting with pros and fans alike. I actually had a a better time at NYCC than I did at Wondercon this year, and WC had the advantage of being a bus ride from my apartment.

  24. I spent four days at Javits. The mixture was incredible, and I wonder, if the indies had a certain cosplay dress, they might be easier to notice?

    The Artists Alley was much better than last year. Easy to get around, constant traffic, and I marvelled at the background noise of conversations going on. The mixture there was incredible as well, from newbies to experienced pros like Colleen Doran and Jim Valentino. It was easy to talk to various people there, and I discovered some interesting titles.

    The “big” comics publishers (big fish, small pond) were there and easy to find. Notable exceptions: Slave Labor Graphics and Drawn & Quarterly. Fantagraphics, Oni, First Second (actually a book publisher), Image, Checker, Top Cow and many micro-presses with booths I had never heard of! What was nice was that only Viz, DC, Marvel, and Dark Horse had large booths, making for a less hectic con.

    The mainstream publishers were well represented, which is unusual for a comic-con. HarperCollins, Random House, Penguin, Abrams, Andrews McMeel (comic strips at a comic-con!), a few religious publishers, and even Books of Wonder, a children’s bookstore from New York City!

    It might be that NYCC emphasizes the indy aspect less because of MoCCA. They don’t discourage it. (I don’t think they discourage anything, if you’re willing to pay.) If programming is a concern, then I’m sure Reed would be happy to listen and even allow you to schedule panels. (Heidi, how hard was it to plan the Rushkoff/McCloud (how indy is THAT?!) panel?)

  25. I’ll keep this clean Heidi cause you were so nice to me at the con.

    No one says you should have the same taste. I don’t care for costumes, video game displays, or panels, but I’m not gonna say the con is devoid of any thing that makes comics so terribly awesome because I don’t like those things. You seem to have an opposite reaction to what seems to be everyone else. There were kids so in love with the stories of the manga they like that they freaking dress up as the characters in those books.

    Even the publishers on the list that you keep moving the goalposts for, feel like they had a productive time. It really feels like the kind of group that you want your comics show to be about is uber-exclusive and I’m sorry but I think there is something sad about that.

    It saddens me greatly because I hope MoCCa never becomes something so insular. It’s the same exact vibe I don’t like about very continuity focused super hero fans. I love how much this con wasn’t just about a fan like myself who really loves the hell out of talking to the creators of my favorite books. It was for nearly every single type of fan out there together in one large space kind of sharing it all together.

    I’m sorry you feel left out but that seems to be more of a function of the con being in April instead of other things. Maybe you had to look harder for what you wanted. I missed Mat Johnson in the hub bub and I’m still kicking myself for that today but I still got to meet and talk to more people last year than I did this year. I imagine the “indie” presence will probably be stronger next year and you’ll miss out on it.

    But hey, you will still have MoCCa.

    – Apparently not giving off the “Reading all these shitty amazing comics” vibe

  26. I don’t think the NYCC ever made any pretense that it was NOT trying to be a mini-San Diego, and by that I mean I don’t think they were ever trying to be more or less “indy friendly” than any other huge convention. And from the first show it seemed to me that small press/indy/artist alley exhibitors would be second class citizens just like they are in any other “mainstream” pop culture/comics convention, so I don’t thnk they’re going against the status quo.

    The first year we were all the way in the back and against the walls. Aisles bottlenecked and anyone not wanting to deal with a crowd had no reason to push through to get back there. In the second year we were upstairs where only people who were looking for you, an autograph, or a less crowded bathroom would venture to. This year the small press & artist alley exhibitors were in the back corner again, but that area was HUGE, you had to go past it to get to the VIP lounge, and you didn’t have to go up two flights of escalators from the main show floor to get there.

    Small press/artist alley had easier access this year than any other–there was not just one way to get there, as there had been previously. You could go around the huge, usually empty autograph area; through the little aisles; or outside the show floor and up any of the escalators on the more northern end of the building (which, granted, hardly anyone took advantage of). As for other indy publishers, First Second, Oni, ASP, and others seemed to be in close proximity to Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Gentle Giant, Diamond Direct, and so on, so I don’t know how easier to find they could’ve been made. And to address the “comics as literature” angle, I saw more actual BOOK publishers and editors at this convention than any other mainstream comics convention I can remember.

    I will agree that some smaller publishers (and even some big ones) may not have exhibited because tables & booths were expensive, though, so if your angle is that they’re trying to squeeze out the little guy by way of pricing, I might agree with that point. This was one of our most expensive cons, even without having to pay for airplane tickets and hotel rooms. But we still did very well, and it still felt like people were there primarily for comics, not just free hollywood swag.

  27. I had a great time at NYCC – superheros, cosplayers, indies, and all. I was there specifically to speak about marketing jobs with the indie publishers who put out the graphic novel equivalent of “lit fic” (and I bought–and had signed–“Bottomless Belly Button,” so I both saw and met the alt comics purveyors there including f-graphics, 1st 2nd, etc.–and I’ll say that Fantagraphics knew its audience here and wisely had a modest booth), and I felt, at the end of all three days, that I’d done alright–and that they’d all done alright with their investment of both time and money by exhibiting. Seems like, by “saw” no members of “the alternative industry,” Josh means that as someone *in* the biz for a quarter of a century he was looking for something different (cartoonists, who did seem thin on the ground, yes?) than I was as I try to break *into* the biz (publicists, marketers, sales directors).

    Additionally, I totally agree that the “overriding sensation…is a multimedia assault on your senses” and that the atmosphere was one of general pop culture participation rather than *just the reading* of comics (which is a slice o’pop culture, I feel) – with so many video gaming/toy booths, I sometimes didn’t know into what kind of trade show I’d wandered. If Josh is calling that out, I’ve got him loud and clear and I surely don’t disagree. I plan to attend again next year – for the networking, for the panels, and because I talked shop with several Majors and almost all of the Minors – but I don’t think I’ll come on the busiest day.

    Also, bless that fine spring weather – too bad it’s back to drab Feb. in 09…

  28. David Brothers is now one of my favorite people.

    Heidi, wish I could have seen ya, to stick a copy of MM in your hand. NYCC was fun. I saw all types of comics represented and had a ball.

  29. http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/litterbox/it_would_be_easier_with_stormtroopers_82932.asp

    i only got 8 out of 12 right, so what the hell do i know?

    p.s. Nora Rocket seemed to get my meaning. Thanks, Nora

    p.p.s. Dave Lasky says, “from what I’ve heard, all the indy comics people are now promoting their graphic novels at the book publishers’ conventions. I’ll bet there are some old school poets and novelists who are up in arms about all the ‘funnybook people’ invading their conventions.” Hee!

  30. I think it’s fairly obvious Josh isn’t pissed that Oni, Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, First Second, et al weren’t visible at NYCC. He’s pissed because Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, Tokyopop, Midtown Comics, and Jim Hanley’s were.

    Josh, I let God know you’re very upset that there are people in the world with a different aesthetic and who enjoy different things than you, like superhero comics, movies, video games, and dressing up in costumes from superhero comics, movies, and video games. I’m sure He’ll get right on fixing that for you, so you and the great, unwashed, ignorant world can bask in the true beauty of only the things you like.

  31. I think Josh should start his own con and not let big companies and things he doesn’t like inside. That way he’d be awesome happy with how it was laid out and who attends and what kind of fans show up.

  32. NYCC was exactly what I expected it would be; a mini San Diego. Which was fine. While it did lack the ‘Indie Ghetto’ that San Diego has, it had more then it’s fare share of self publishers. You gotta figure, indie books make up less them 10% of the market, I saw considerably more then 10% of indie published stuff. Granted, alot of it was genre stuff, but ‘small press’ nonetheless. I found Chris Staros and Top Shelf, I found First :01, I even found Fantagraphics (Gary was not dressed as a Stormtrooper, he was in fact dressed as a marine from Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within), and a slew of folks in the Artists Alley.

    Was I blown away at how indie friendly the show is? No, quite the opposite. If I thought it was friendly, House of Twelve would do the show. The table prices (outside of Artists Alley) are WAY too expensive for the average indie scenster. But I understand they have to sell tens of thousands of tickets, and sorry to be the one to say it, but the indie scene ain’t gonna get the kinda draw that Porn Alley and Video Game Alley can. With the maarket the way it is, indies can pack MoCCA or SPX for the weekend, and that’s about it.

    The cost to rent the hall must be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not more?), they need to pack the place with high dollar players like Konami, Marvel and Universal Pictures, if not, the show goes back to being what it was in 2006, ghettoized in the basement with tens of thousands of frustrated fans lined up around the block. The guys who run the show are businessmen, they are in it to make as much money as possible, not to enlighten the community to the wonder of auto-bio comics.

    This show gave the mainstream fans exactly what they wanted. A lot of toys, heroes, manga, anime and games with some back issue retailers and 100% authentic replica Star Trek ninja battlaxes thrown in for good measure. The fact that they had an artists alley at all was a little surprising, if the show continues to be successful, expect the autograph area and AA to disappear quickly (although maybe after the Jedi Training area).

  33. I can understand why Josh would feel the way he does about the con.

    But this is a BIG BOX con and I think for the most part that is what should be expected.

    That being said, I actually thought there was more of a small press indie presence than years prior. I talked to a BUNCH of indie peeps. They weren’t your typical MoCCA Art Lit Comics but they were smalltime 1 or 2 man crew publishing their own comics.

    I do have to say, I’m not a big fan of this years artist alley and the way it was designed. It looked like bingo night with the nerds. I think 07’s artist alley was much nicer, it didn’t feel so ghetto cuz all of the booths had 2 or 3 artists with a curtain and it was a bit quieter so it promoted discussion a bit more. Highly doubt they’ll be able to do that again.

    A HUGE thanks to all who have posted here and who stopped by our table at the show. NYCC has been amazingly supportive of us and it felt wonderful that we could provide a little indie oasis in the sea of toys,video games, etc. And we LOVED having you guys come around and say hello and check out the ISR roundup.

    This show was EASILY our most successful to date with more listeners and traffic to the table than ever before.

    Thanks to ALL of the artists who signed at our booth and to HEIDI for plugging it. That helped QUITE a bit.

    Maybe in 09 Josh, you’ll have to come sit with us!
    ; )

  34. Y’know what, I take all that back. It’s not Josh’s fault the tone of the conversation between mainstream and alternative comics has been one of juvenile antagonism for thirty years and going. I’m disappointed he’s chosen to perpetuate it (and that someone his age can’t recognize a false dichotomy when he sees one), but I can hardly blame him for looking around at what everyone else is doing and assuming that’s the way it’s supposed to be done.

  35. I’m a little surprised at ya’ll. I don’t think Josh has chosen to perpetuate the “feud” it at all.

  36. Anyone who has ever been to a big show knows how easy it is to miss booths and people. Even at smaller shows, it’s easy to overlook stuff. OK, so Josh admits he only went for one day at the most crowded time, didn’t see a lot of small press people he expected and noticed many small press publishers had smaller set ups than expected and now, instead of just disagreeing with his opinion, people are demanding he start his own convention? Sometimes I don’t get this Internet thing…

  37. It all comes down to the price of booth space and the pain and the ass of exhibiting at the Javits center. I don’t blame ANYONE for not wanting to exhibit there. It is a lot of risk and a lot of backbreaking work. There’s almost no guarantee that an indy artist or small publisher will be able to break even at ANY convention…but at least with San Diego you feel like you are getting a vacation out of the deal. No one goes to the Javits Center unless they have to. There is nothing inviting about it and the surrounding area is crap. My friends and I chose to upgrade to full size booth because last years Artist Alley almost killed us it was so claustrophobically tight. We literally had to climb underneath our table to get in and out!

    This years’ space was far superior but we had to bring in our own tables and chairs (or rent them for even more $$$). For New Yorkers without a car was quite an ordeal (driving in NYC never a good idea!) and in the future we will probably bite the bullet and pay the extra fee. But that means we’ll be even less likely to make a profit. Even with the better location, everyone I talked to had a hard time navigating through the floor without a map. I’m usually a fan of spreading things out so that different people can discover things they didn’t expect. But it’s sad to see amazing publishers like Top Shelf so tucked and hidden away in a random aisle.

  38. Really? I do, a little bit. It’s not hard to look at the front page of the NYCC website and not know what you’re getting into when you show up… It’s not to say that I don’t empathize with Josh’s feelings, but just glancing around the show hall all of the folks he fondly remembered from previous years were there… Maybe Brendan Buford was the only person I couldn’t find, or who didn’t exhibit. It’s just that there was so much more… of everything… this year, and I think that contributed to his perception. I think there’s something to be said for “this isn’t the show for me, but it could have been once-upon-a-time” and the general tone and tenor of Josh’s comments.

    …I honestly don’t think that this show was ever going to be anything other than what it is. It’d take a monumental effort to change things now. Oh, and Josh? You totally should have gone to the show during the professionals-only hours on Friday morning/afternoon. I got a ton done that day, saw almost everyone I needed to see, and it was really easy to get around. If you don’t want to be “assaulted” by B.O. and bad manners, you’ve gotta take some responsibility for that as well.

  39. I had a SUPER time at NYCC but of course that was not without making some exceptions. Realizing it was a mainstream con, realizing there’d be people in costume, realizing I’d have to constantly negotiate crowds, etc. For me, it ended up being a really good experience. And I love the fact that the indies and the mainstreams are slowly trying to co-exist. Of course there’s growing pains but dear god, how great is it to have them both in the same place to begin with!!

    I agree with the suggestion that NYCC in the future tries to make its own “Indie Island”, as Dustin’s awesome example has proven to work and get better year after year. If they grouped the indies and the podcasters and the indie supporters together better, I think it would’ve felt more warm and snuggly. (and not in that Stormtrooper – Gold Bikini Princess Leia – armpit way)

    The Indie Spinner Rack booth totally saved me. That, and seeing Seth Green. :)

  40. Since its inception, NYCC has always been me and Ryan Dunlavey’s best show in terms of traffic and sales, and I’m not sure how you can get much more “independent” than our rinky-dink two-man operation. I thought Artist’s Alley (where we were) was much less of a ghetto this year because it was on the same level (literally) with Marvel, DC, and Lou Ferrigno.

    I will say I’ve never understood the logic behind charging people almost twice as much for a small press booth when, as far as I can tell, all you get extra is assurance of the cloth backdrop to hang stuff off of (which we did too, because our aisle of A.A. abutted the Small Press area). And the aisles there seemed even more congested to me; we got better foot traffic in A.A., as far as I could tell.

  41. All I know is that I ended up purchasing almost exclusively “indie” or small press books at NYCC. I didn’t set out to do so, but at the end of the day, it was the only stuff that was compelling enough for me to buy. Now, does that confirm that there *was* a strong independent publisher presence at the Con? I dunno.

    I go to comic conventions to discover cool new stuff to read. I can buy or read about the mainstream stuff any time.

  42. Sounds like Josh got there right at the tipping point. I had a great time at the show Thursday, Friday, and Sunday — but much of Saturday was just too crowded. There was a time, leaving McCloud’s Zot! panel, when the people were packed so closely and so tightly coming and going, that I honestly did not feel safe. I had to get out of there.

    But, yeah. I spent the whole show talking to indie and alternative types — both at their booths and otherwise — and hardly even noticed the superhero stuff. I haven’t been able to do that at many cons I’ve attended.

    But yeah. Saturday I had to get out of there.

  43. “The fact that they had an artists alley at all was a little surprising, if the show continues to be successful, expect the autograph area and AA to disappear quickly (although maybe after the Jedi Training area).”

    It took me a second to realize that AA stood for Artist Alley. I was wondering how I’d missed the Alcoholics Anonymous table!

  44. I completely disagree with this article. I found a TON of Indies at NYCC. Here is my haul:

    • Johnny Hiro 1-3 (Bought them from Eisner Nominee Fred Chao himself)
    • The Aviary (Bought from Jamie Tanner himself)
    • Notes for a War by Gipi
    • Action Philosophers! tpb Vol 1,2,& 3 (Bought from Van Lente & Dunlavey)
    • A Dummy’s Guide to Danger, first TPB (bought from Jason Burns)
    • A Dummy’s Guide to Danger, first issue/second series (bought from Jason Burns)
    • KING! (bought it from Thomas Hall & Daniel Bradford)
    • PAPERCUTTER anthology (misc artists/writers)
    • Super Spy by Matt Kindt
    • Mr. Big from Little foot Publishing
    • Three Shadows from First second
    • American Born Chinese from First second

    …and my favorite swag of the convention…

    • Meeting Eisner nominated Jeff Lemire and buying his book Lost Dogs from him as well as splurging and buying original cover art (fully painted) . If I could post the image on this blog you would know why it’s a great buy.

    If you didn’t see enough indy at the NYCC, I have to respectfully disagree. I just think you weren’t looking hard enough. :)

  45. I didn’t attend NYCC this year, so i say the following with nothing to support it other than pure cynicisms with a touch of jerkiness.

    “God forbid! A comic book convention positioning itself to attract the majority of fans and pack the floor with people actually enjoying themselves with said con, instead of catering to an underwhelming minority of snobbish, self-righteous hipsters, that are too cool to show up anyway. The horror. The absolute horror.”

  46. I’d get involved in this discussion, but I’m too busy trying to wrap my head around the fact that there’s ANYONE who doesn’t think of Oni Press as an indie publisher.

    Who knew that I was slaving under corporate control all those years? Certainly not me.

  47. While understand where Josh is coming from I think its clear that, despite the obstacles to indie presses at NYCC–and there are plenty–I thought there was a pretty good presence. I can see from the other comments that others feel that way as well. I spent time at the Oni Press booth, the small korean publisher NetComics, First Second, ASP, Comics bakery and spent time in the revamped artists Alley and I guess Vertigo is kind of an honorary indie, cause they’ve sure got a lot of indie-identified artists. Not that the indie presence at NYCC should be taken for granted.

  48. “I hate to be a hater, BUT I THOUGHT THE NEW YORK COMIC-CON SUCKED!” – JN

    typical comic book fan reaction to something they didn’t like (or understand) – “IT SUCKED!”

    that’s like me going to APE or MOCCA and saying those SUCKED cause i couldn’t find any superhero comics artists/companies there! then complaining about artists alley being filled with an abundance of pseudo-comic book artists who say they’re artists but really have a full time office job selling insurance.

    that’s like me going to BARNES & NOBLE and saying they SUCKED cause the comics section is only like one or two aisles in comparison to an entire store full of books and then also complaining about there being a starbucks attached to it cause i mean, what the heck does coffee have to do with books?!?

    and i got all 12 of 12 from that little picture quiz so i know my shit!

  49. I have to say that I agree with everyone refuting Josh’s position on the indie presence. You had plenty of small press booths and artist alley tables that covered a ton of indies. I enjoyed hitting the 3rd annual indie after party, personally.

  50. I find it weird that people who work for Publishers Weekly call First Second “Indy” or independent. yes, they publish alternative comics as one could say that vertigo does too. But in a pure economic, industry sense, they are owned lock stock and barrel by one of the world’s largest book companies MacMillan, which therefore sets them apart from true independent companies in that the Javitts fees fall into a marketing budget that is probably separate from the budget for paychecks, where in a small company, it’s all the same thing. Semantics I know, and of no interest to the fans, but it is one of the reasons why fans do not see more independent companies at these types of shows and something that industry journalists should not muddle.

  51. This is a weird thread. Everyone seems to be attacking Josh for having an opinion. Josh didn’t enjoy the con so much this year, couldn’t find a lot of stuff and got annoyed by some of the other con-goers. These are facts, ‘cos they’re how he feels.
    It’s perfectly okay for everyone to rave, but one negative con-report brings all this backlash? I love the internet.

    Michael – you really need to chill out a little. He wasn’t attacking you for having liked the con, he just didn’t like it himself. And since when has Jim Hanley’s been corporate? It’s always been one of the most indie friendly shops in NY. I’ve picked up loads of books there I’ve never seen anywhere else (and I used to work for Gosh! in the UK).

    Scott – He wasn’t saying Oni aren’t indie, just not indie in the same way as Fantagraphics, Top Shelf and D&Q are. They’re more of a mass-media company than art-book orientated, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

  52. “He wasn’t saying Oni aren’t indie, just not indie in the same way as Fantagraphics, Top Shelf and D&Q are. They’re more of a mass-media company than art-book orientated, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

    That’s some serious hair-splitting. In my day, “indie” meant independent, not some sort of value judgement based on how far a company does or doesn’t have their nose in the air.

  53. I wouldn’t say it’s hair-splitting, it’s a consequence of using overarching descriptions. Indie in this case, and in his original rant, meant art-book publishers rather than independant publishers. Nothing to do with snobbery (although I’m not denying that there’s a fairly healthy dollop of snobbiness in many indie fanatics), just a different style of book. Boom are an indie company too, but they don’t produce the sort of stuff Josh was looking for.
    Oni wouldn’t publish the likes of House or Mome, ‘cos it’s not their market, just as FGB probably wouldn’t publish Queen & Country or Northwest Passage, as it’s not their market.

    It’s the same in music, indie is used to describe a whole swathe of music that couldn’t be further from independant if it tried…

  54. Okay, let me try again:

    That’s some serious overarching description, there.

    All I’m saying is that Josh seems to have drawn the line between “indie” and “whatever else that apparently isn’t indie” in a completely arbitrary place, then publicly complained that the NYCC didn’t draw it in the same place he did.

    Don’t get me wrong, I too often find the bigger, corporate-focused cons a bit embarassing, and WAY too focused on commercial comics. But the good stuff (however you define it) is usually there. It just takes some determined looking, as others have said. I wasn’t at NYCC, but if my friends at Oni Press were there, I have to assume that there was a diverse range of material.

  55. Also, just wanted to add that going to NYCC and complaining that you can’t (easily) find a copy of MOME is like going to SPX and complaining that you can’t find SECRET INVASION #1.

    It’s not so much the show’s fault, as it is that you’re just in the wrong damn place.

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