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!