Once again, the fearless ComicsBeat roamed around NYCC to bring you the best and worst of what we saw. Contributors: Riccardo Serrano Denis, Heidi MacDonald, Zack Quaintance, Gregory Paul Silber, Deanna Destito, George Carmona, Joe Grunenwald, Taimur Dar and Billy Hennehan. 

LOSER: WIFI – Wifi and phone coverage at the Javits Center has always been challenging, but this year it was nearly useless. It wasn’t just the press complaining about a lack of signal in both press rooms — vendors, artists, and attendees were all endlessly frustrated. In many cases, people had a hard time getting paid, as Stripe and Venmo just weren’t working. Last year, there was free sponsored wifi, and the lack of it this year was a disaster. At the show’s talk-back panel, show organizers promised better wifi would return next year. – HM

WINNER: MANGA Plus – Another con, another year of manga putting American comics to shame with show floor presence. Shueisha Inc.’s MANGA Plus booth was essentially an art exhibit featuring original pages from some of manga’s biggest titles (Spy x Family, Chainsaw Man, Jujutsu Kaisen, and more). It was divided by series, and each section had three to four pages plus a QR code so new readers could download their first chapters. We need more of this from publishers everywhere, a show of creativity and appreciation that engages with fans and new readers alike with unique and fun experiences. People took pictures in each section (especially One Piece’s) and were scanning those QR codes. American comics, steal this idea! – Ricky Serrano

WINNER: Horror novelists – Prose books seem to have found a very cozy and welcoming home in comic cons, but NYCC in particular has been especially accommodating. The show had plenty of opportunities for prose horror fans to not only get their books signed but also hear their favorite authors talk in panels. Stephen Graham Jones (My Heart is a Chainsaw), Nick Cutter (The Troop), and Tananarive Due (The Reformatory) were among the big-name writers there. Tor and Simon & Schuster had very busy booths and people were actively looking for them. Let it be known that NYCC is also home to prose horror. – Ricky Serrano

LOSER: Bad Idea – There’s a difference between a bad idea and a stupid idea. Bad Idea’s NYCC idea lies squarely in the stupid category. I was able to walk by their booth several times and rarely saw any activity. But then during one of my walkthroughs, I managed to get my hands on a preview of their new comic Spaceman by The Laphams. It was a printout, stapled together on one end and showcasing a shiny Bad Idea sticker on another. I could easily imagine the guys behind this giggling to each other while printing this out in someone’s apartment, saying “got ‘em” while high-fiving each other. Walking by the booth and stopping for the printout only took me like 30 seconds. It’s 30 seconds I would like back. – Ricky Serrano

LOSER: Walking the show floor on Saturday, while attendance numbers are high, is always good for conventions like NYCC, but attempting to traverse the show floor on Saturday was quite the endeavor. Out of the four days, Saturday was the one I stayed as far away as possible from the crowds. It was packed, uncomfortable, and stress-inducing. There comes a point where too many people in one spot just work against the enjoyment of the event. – Ricky Serrano

WINNER: Headlocked Comics booth – Real quick, the Headlocked Comics booth boasted some great guest wrestlers doing signings and talking to people. A highlight was Mick Foley, who took his time talking with each fan and showing interest. Rikishi, MJF, and Jake the Snake were there too. Headlocked always puts on an action-packed booth. NYCC 23 was no exception. – Ricky Serrano

WINNER: Vault Comics – Vault had a killer show. The publisher had an airy eye-catching booth near a well-trafficked entrance, combined with a variety of great books (published steadily over the years) for curious folks who approached. They also had some really cool con exclusives (I snagged the first issue of Beyond Real, an upcoming series from writer Zack Kaplan and a team of eight artists) and signings by creators. And if all that wasn’t enough, they also threw a buzzy party on Saturday night. – Zack Q.

WINNER: Horror Comics – Superhero stuff aside, in the direct market these days, horror comics are king, and this was evident all weekend. Nearly every small press publisher at the show had at least some focus on horror. From Image to AWA Studios to relative newcomer Summerian Comics (formerly Behemoth), it was easy to find spooky monthly comics being sold, talked about at panels, or just generally appreciated. – Zack Q.

LOSER: All of us, every last one of us – After a bathroom incident got reported early in the weekend, it became impossible to navigate the show without someone asking, “Hey, how about that #*!& on the floor?” Some folks had theories (animal or human?), some swore they had truth (definitely human, confirmed), and some just wanted to chuckle. All of it was pretty gross. Who could have seen this coming among a community of people who have organized their adult lives around fantasies and cartoons? – Zack Q. 

LOSER: The NYCC app – If you were smart and grabbed a hard copy of the schedule you were fine, but using the app was a nightmare. People weren’t able to search for panels by keywords or names. Also, in some cases wrong information was on the app, one of the panels I was on had the correct time on signage and the website, but the app had it an hour later, we literally had folks walking up to us ready for the panel as we were walking out. – George Carmona 

LOSER: Tim Bradstreet – I spotted this displayed proudly at an autograph dealer’s booth on the show floor. “Looks great, but who is Tim BROADstreet?” Why did they have to do Tim so dirty?? – Billy Henehan

LOSER: The Facilities – Not to bring up the infamous poo again, but maybe the reason someone deuced it out on the show floor was that there was no toilet paper, no soap in the dispensers, and broken stall doors. So if someone is going to watch ya do your business, why not make it part of the convention, right? – Deanna Destito

WINNER: The Panel Crew – This year’s crew kept the crowds waiting for panels flowing pretty well, at least for the ones I attended. There were team members stationed along the long lines and at the entrances, filtering people in and ensuring that no clogs occurred in the main walkways. – Deanna Destito

WINNER: Arcbound Studios – Putting aside the SAG-AFTRA strike, we’ve definitely seen a notable number of celebrity actors and entertainers trying their hand working in comics. But I would never have expected the announcement of Tom Hardy joining forces with Scott Snyder on a comic project. – Taimur Dar

LOSER: Talking to anyone in Artists Alley – Ricky mentioned the mass of people on the show floor earlier, but trying to browse or have a conversation with anyone in Artists Alley was damn near impossible given the sheer volume of people pushing through the aisles and waiting in line for signatures. I approached one creator’s table and he greeted me before exasperatedly saying he couldn’t talk because he had only fifteen minutes to sign books for a line of people at least thirty deep. NYCC’s Artists Alley is super impressive, with a huge lineup of high-profile talent and up-and-coming creators worth checking out. It’s just a shame it was so miserable to navigate. – Joe Grunenwald

WINNER: Me – This was my first time at New York Comic Con, and it was amazing. I’ll have a full con diary up later this week about the experience, but the short version of it is that I got to spend time with friends I don’t get to see very often, interact (albeit briefly: see previous Loser) with a lot of creators whose work I admire, and just generally be immersed in comics for four days straight. That’s enough to make everyone who attended the winner of the con. – Joe Grunenwald

LOSER: Comic Publisher Booths – It goes without saying that this was a much more scaled-back NYCC in large part due to the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, the former of which was resolved only a few weeks before the show. I actually did not mind a more subdued Hollywood presence this year. However, it was a bit disappointing not to see any booths on the show floor from major publishers such as DC, Dark Horse, Image, and Skybound. I’m sure there were a lot of considerations and reasons behind the decision. Skybound in particular was a bit surprising since the company was promoting such massive properties like the Energon Universe and Invincible.  – Taimur Dar

LOSER: Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving panel – In case you didn’t hear, the panel for Eli Roth’s upcoming Thanksgiving horror film was abruptly canceled last minute. No official reason was given to my knowledge. It’s not unusual nor the first time this happened. Back in 2017, NYCC pulled The Punisher panel due to the tragedy in Las Vegas. Some speculate canceling the Thanksgiving panel was due to recent tragic events and potential safety issues. It’s also very possible it was just as innocuous as scheduling issues. – Taimur Dar

WINNER: The Foil Industry – Whoever is printing all these foil variants must have had a busy few weeks leading up to NYCC. They were all over the place. Publishers, retailers, and artists all had their own exclusive foil variants to peddle this year at NYCC. Please, someone tell Scarlet Witch to whisper “No more foil variants.” – Billy Henehan

WINNER: NYCC’s Biggest King of Fighters Fan – NYCC hosted a series of video game tournaments throughout the weekend, with the grand prize for each being a 4-Day Pass to New York Comic Con 2024. Well, only one person showed up to play King of Fighters and he walked away with a 4-Day Pass to next year’s NYCC! – Billy Henehan

WINNER: Swag Fans – The swag was out in full force at NYCC 2023, and it was high quality! Bandai gave away Dragonball Z and Gundam model kits to anyone patient enough to try their hands at assembling them on-site. New on the block Image imprint Ghost Machine gave away ashcans throughout the weekend. Book publishers had stacks of books to hand out at their tables and at signings. Anyone who attended a Marvel panel left with an exclusive variant. And Skybound gave away Duke ashcans to promote the latest entry in the Energon Universe. – Billy Henehan

LOSER: Anyone wanting something new or exciting from corporate comics – The big publishers, no longer the big two (which are Viz and Scholastic), are reaching back into the past in an attempt to bring some kind of energy to a moribund market, but it’s not working. Ultimates and Elseworlds (most of which are dark fantasy, oddly) may have been successful in the early aughts, but the magic no longer seems to be there. – JDC

WINNER: Inklore – PRH’s new imprint focused on manga, manhwa, and webcomics in print was much discussed and held a swanky launch party at the Equinox Hotel. The excitement among fans over this kind of material is undeniable, and if the imprint is a success, you’re going to see even more imitators. – HM

LOSER: Superheroes – Sorry, it’s more than just fatigue, it’s indifference at this point. The MCU is washed — a recent story on Disney suddenly realizing its TV shows are bland and uninteresting due to a lack of clear voices sums it all up. While the superhero cosplay that showed up was spectacular, there is less of it year after year. Marvel’s booth showed off some costumes from The Marvels, but it was impossible to get to due to the giveaway crowds that assembled every hour. With Marvel and DC resurrecting the successful brands of the past — Elseworlds, Ultimates — the entire big two world needs a massive jolt. – HM

WINNER: Mad Cave, Vault, and Rebellion – Last year, these publishers were relegated to really bad locations — with Vault’s spot next to a curry stand taking the hall of fame award for all-time worst booth. (“My clothes smelled like curry when I got home,” one Vaulter told me.) It may not have been a make-good, but all three were moved to the “Publishers” section of the floor and rose to the occasion with new booth set-ups. With only three of the top 10 publishers (two of them manga) setting up on the main floor, it was easy to feel like the direct market is an afterthought in the publishing world. When Demon Slayer Crocs get more of a showcase than the main superhero characters, something is wrong. – HM

LOSER: Safety – For whatever reason, crowd control measures were restricted to the panel area in the North Hall (where they are badly needed, to be fair), leaving the main exhibit area and second floor to be something of a wild west of crowd control. It wasn’t quite as bad as the year I was literally stuck in a corner for 10 minutes, but it was bad. I made quite a few claustrophobic videos of the crowd but they became too tedious and repetitive. Too many people! And that’s with wider aisles overall. And if I had a quarter for every time someone stepped off an escalator (going up or down) and stopped absently to check a text or talk to a companion, I would be able to buy NYCC outright. DO NOT STOP AT THE END OF AN ESCALATOR PEOPLE! It’s dangerous! – HM

WINNER: The mesmerizing Shueisha XR booth – An immersive booth of shifting images of top Shonen Jump manga accompanied by droning, ominous music was my happy place. I could have sat there all day. In general, there was so much to do on the show floor! Domes, rides, and photo ops. The vast majority of it was anime- and manga-themed. The manga publishers have money to spare and it showed. – HM

LOSER: Our sensibilities – Look, I know the poop story was clickbait, but it worked — so many people mentioned it to me on Sunday — because of the general aura of “bathroom insecurity” that pervades NYCC. – HM

WINNER: Food choices – The fragrant — but delicious — Go Go Curry booth was moved away from the publishers’ area, meaning there was a wide swath of the show without easily accessible food booths, but it was a change that needed to be made. But the choices this year were so much better than the usual $8 hot dog, with an emphasis on Asian-themed cuisine — perhaps a nod to NYCC’s gradual evolution into a manga show. There was even a Filipino treat stand in the front of the show, and I enjoyed my first ever “halo-halo” — shaved ice topped with various treats and sweets. Refreshing and a new addiction. – HM

LOSER: The AMPTP – I wrote about this, but the still-ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike meant that actors couldn’t appear on panels to discuss their Hollywood work — including at their own spotlight panels. Not only did it make the panels less exciting, but it made the whole weekend a bit less splashy than you’d hope for from such a major convention. Neither the actors nor ReedPop can be blamed for the awkwardness of a mid-strike NYCC. Let’s just hope that the AMPTP finally provides a fair deal to the actors’ guild by next con season. – Gregory Paul Silber

WINNER: Godzilla – My love of kaiju is well-documented, but I’ve had mixed feelings about Legendary’s “MonsterVerse” that started with 2014’s Godzilla reboot. With showrunners and executive producers Chris Black and Matt Fraction (yes, THAT Matt Fraction!) at the helm of Apple TV+’s Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, though, I’m pleased to say that it looks like a real winner. Starring Kurt Russell and his son, Wyatt Russell, playing older and younger versions of the same character, it’s the first American Godzilla screen project that actually made me care about the human characters. The panel was great too, with a captivated audience during the screening and a spirited, thoughtful conversation with various folks behind the series, including Black and Fraction. – GPS


  1. NYCC’s Artist Alley layout was disappointing this year largely due to the decision to plop several large corporate booths right at the entrance that interrupted the flow foot traffic, cut off visibility of the whole floor and created bottlenecks. The folks at the tables are restricted to having displays 8 feet tall or less, and to not cut off visibility of their neighbors, so why was IDW permitted to have a 15 foot tall booth right in front of – well – EVERYONE?! The aisle my table was in – K/L on the far right of the hall – had much less foot traffic than the rest of the floor, largely due to the fact that the Barnes and Noble tables was set up both against the wall in the front of the hall AND cut strait across the aisle entrance. Not cool. It was also difficult to ignore the fact that artist alley collectives like “Comic Sketch Artists” and a few others have taken over half the tables, easily, taking up large chunks of floor space and squeezing out creators not affiliated with them (and a LOT of those tables were empty for the majority of the show). On the plus side – the food stalls at the back of Artist Alley were top-notch, and the floor staff were awesome as always – wrangling long lines and keeping things moving as best they could given the floor layout. NYCC is always my favorite convention and I’ll def be back next year but I’m hoping these issues won’t be ignored for the 2024 show.

Comments are closed.