New York Comic Con 2008 In Review

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[For more NYCC images, check out our Flickr set.]

Comic conventions, it seems, are the manner of event that can only be objectively viewed from a distance—or, at the very least, after a nice, long, late-afternoon nap. By Sunday, even the scantily-clad cosplay girls were wandering around, undead, in clouds of haggard disillusionment, not to mention the a couple of rotund attendees in movie-(or certainly fan film)-quality Storm Trooper uniforms who had shelled out the $65 dollars for a weekend pass, banking on three days filled with overzealous attendees pulling them and Indiana Jones impersonators aside to pose with them for the ultimate Lucasian photo op.

When, by the last afternoon of the Con, sights like this, or the awkward encounters between packs of roaming Ghostbusters and Frank Miller-inspired Spartans can longer elicit, at the very least, a momentary double-take, perhaps it’s the proper time to reassess one’s place in the universe. And certainly it speaks volumes that, despite the fact that I was surrounded by familiar folks, I saw more of the guy dressed as Blaster, the Autobot, than any other person, this weekend.

None of this is meant to sound bitter of course. The ever-expanding New York Comic Con is always a cause for celebration, and all things considered, I rather enjoyed myself, even the exhausted half-hour I spent, seated, camera-in-hand, in front of the loudspeakers on the side of the main stage, watching a staged performance by the New York Jedi collective, blurring the lines between cosplay, martial arts, interpretive dancing, and community theater.

It’s just that, well, as someone there charged with covering the alternative comics scene, it’s was tough to know exactly how I fit in, amongst the clouds of camera-happy costumed X-Men and Justice Leaguers.

Some of our usual suspects were on-hand. First Second and Oni were well-represented, with booths adjacent to Image, who, along with their fellow scene straddling publishing house, Dark Horse, were well-stocked with a constant stream of Sharpie-equipped creators, the latter of which afforded me the opportunity to catch up with Mike Mignola and David Lloyd, two living comics legends I can check off the old interview list.

Fantagraphics and Top Shelf were on-hand, as well, but both were crammed into booths far too small for two of the leading representatives of the indie comics scene. Despite their limited real estate, both paraded through a number of creators, every time I passed, including folks like Jeffery Brown, Jeff Lemire, Leah Hayes, and Miss Lasko-Gross. Alongside them in similar-sized booths were a few Cross Hatch favorites, like Kyle Baker and Dave Roman and Raina Telgemeir’s Comics Bakery. Over in the signing gauntlet that is Artists’ Alley, Tim Leong’s Comics Foundry and Act-I-vaters like Dan Goldman and Nikki Cook were weathering the storm.

A couple of their fellow collective members, Dean Haspiel and Kevin Colden made appearances in the dense wall of autograph seekers that were a nearly constant presence in DC’s centrally located booth. Toward the end of Sunday, Grant Morrison was kind enough to duck out, in order to grant me his last interview of the con, before flying back home.

MoCCA, Friends of Lulu, and the CBLDF were on-hand, as well, and of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Indie Spinner Rack booth in “Podcast Alley” (itself located within loudspeaker distance of the incredibly loud center stage), which organized appearances by Nick Bertozzi, Liz Bailie, Sarah Glidden, Julia Wertz, Jamie Tanner, and Alec Longstreth.

In all, given the massive proportions to which the con has ballooned, across the floor of the Javits Center, there were not a heck of a lot of us. A majority of those representing independent publishing, it seems, were folks eager to break into the higher ranks of the Marvels and DCs of the world, hoping to bear the torch of caped superheroes, a good five hundred issues in—surely as noble a pursuit as any, but not exactly one that jives with our mission statement.

Interestingly, it was the conference centers below that seemed to cater a touch more to our focus, even though I, for one, didn’t get a chance to attend nearly as many panels as I would have liked to. I attended a handful on Friday, while the convention halls were still only open to professionals—book buyers, store owners, and members of the press—walking up and down aisles in the eerily calm twilight hours of a new snow, moments before being packs down by foot traffic. The phenomenal Rushkoff/McCloud teamup was followed immediately by the media panel, featuring myself and representatives The Beat, Newsarama, Comic Book Resources, IGN, and Comixology—with a 16-person Act-i-Vate panel unfolding right next door.

Later that night, I was lucky enough to make it through the door into the Neil Gaiman CBLDF reading, a particularly thrilling event, given Gaiman’s announcement that the Fund had finally scored a win on the long, hard fought, and obscenely expensive Gordon Lee case. All the while, there was a constant ruckus outside—I ran into Dave Roman during intermission, who explained that during the Avatar the Airbender panel he was on, a lot of enthusiastic fans had shown up for their own impromptu cosplay.

On Saturday, sadly, I missed Grant Morrison’s panel, running late after an off-site interview with legendary filmmaker Ralph Bakshi, who screened two oh his most beloved films, Heavy Traffic and Coonskin on the big screen at the lower east side’s Anthology Film Archives. After attending the screenings later in the evening, I can attest, unabashedly that, if you ever have the chance to see either one in a theater, by all means, go. A couple of hours later, and a few blocks away, in a little 3rd Ave. bar, Dark Horse was holding their own event.

As for Sunday night, well, remember that late-afternoon nap I was telling you about?

–Brian Heater

No Comments to “New York Comic Con 2008 In Review”

  1. dave roman | April 21st, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Great write up! Good seeing you at the show.

  2. rick k. | April 24th, 2008 at 2:01 am

    Did you not see the guy doing the 10 foot x12 foot chalk drawing of captain america? He does something new at all the shows around the country.

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