SPECIAL EDITION: NYC
AMBER’S OVERALL IMPRESSIONS
AMBER LOVE 10-JUNE-2015 I was so happy when ReedPop decided to make the Special Edition NYC show in 2014 because, like many other people, I find the chaos of October’s New York Comic Con to be overwhelming. Special Edition is a medium size show and from what I’ve seen in two years, it’s run quite well. There are always glitches along the way. Last year, the good outweighed the bad. This year, the venue kind of killed the experience for me, but at least I have some cool things to talk about.
Below in the details, I mention the SENYC app a couple of times. The app was great to use for the panel schedule even though it wouldn’t accept my login that works on the desktop site. I was able to go through the schedule and select what panels I wanted to see and then set a reminder to notify me.
The people are always the reason to go to a convention. Whether it’s the creators at their tables or listening to some insightful panel discussions, the people who make comics and travel to be at these events are the real reason to go. That includes my friends in the fandom community too – they come all over the world to gather and show their appreciation for the arts.
When I entered Pier 94, the first recognizable person I saw was comics colleague Dennis Calero. We’ve been known to disagree on things and still keep it civil. That’s part of what I love about Dennis. I am a big fan of his artistic style which is heavy inks and shadows severely contrasted with white space. It’s my idea of classic noir style comic art. Certain shows where’s there’s less chaos, Dennis is the kind of comics pro you can go up to and ask questions about the business and he’ll give it to you straight and take the time to answer.
If I go to a convention and know only one person behind a table, I want it to be Dean Haspiel. I’ve been talking to Dean for nearly ten years of con going. He’s contributed sketches to our Comic Fusion charity auction in the past. There’s something Zen about Dean’s energy that helps me feel calmer for the few minutes I’m talking to him. One of Dean’s best friends, co-founder of Hang Dai Studios and TripCity.net, Seth Kushner passed away only two weeks prior to SENYC. Like Dean, Seth was a constant New York presence in the comics industry and a well-known photographer. Seth’s family is still dealing with a lot of medical bills and their GoFundMe page is still active.
Working hard at their tables, I got to see some old Comic Geek Speak and Comics Experience friends like Andrew Charipar (who comes up all the way from Florida for this show), George O’Connor (not to be confused with the other George O’Connor) and Griffin Ess.
I knew one of my co-collaborators, Erica Schultz had a booth at SENYC, but I was happily surprised to see her with one of our collaborative editor/publishers, Enrica Jang of Red Stylo Media by her side. Erica, if you haven’t noticed, has taken over the comics industry. Look at the Twitter feed of Gail Simone and you’ll possibly come to the same conclusion. It looks as though Gail has passed the torch (or maybe sword in this case) to Erica as a leading comics creator who happens to be a woman. You can see Erica and Enrica on plenty of panels and hustling their books at cons all over. Currently, both of them are pushing Red Stylo Media’s “27” anthology. Erica is also engrossed in the Dynamite crossover event Swords of Sorrow. Although, I have to confess, I was sorry Erica’s husband A.J. wasn’t there this year because he makes cookies and snacks that are fabulous.
I did have a couple of ZOMGFANGIRL! moments. The first was seeing artist Jason Howard at his booth. He’s the artist of one of my current favorite titles, TREES which is written by Warren Ellis and published at Image Comics. The other time was seeing Valentine De Landro on a panel. He’s the artist of another one of my favorite titles BITCH PLANET also by Image, written by Kelly Sue De Connick. I was able to record Valentine De Landro answering someone’s question at the panel and it’s posted below.
Thankfully, by the time I was ready to call it a day and leave the show early because of fatigue and intense pain, I was able to catch up with a lot of my friends who weren’t behind booths: Paul Allor, Gavin Smith, Kate Foil and Ally Cat. Kate, Ally and a few more friends convinced me to stay in the city and go for veggie burgers. Without any painkillers, I made the walk and was so grateful for good pub food and cold water (I don’t care if it is NY tap water, it felt good!). Then as fate would have, Kate and I were heading to the same ferry in Midtown to cross back over to New Jersey and I lost her somewhere in the parking garage – don’t worry, both of us got safely back home.
It was a good thing I noticed something different on the SENYC home page about a week ago, because the venue for this 2nd year comic-focused con in Manhattan had changed. Since this show began as the Artists’ Alley Only section of the mega pop culture show, New York Comic Con, it was originally held at the Javits North Pavilion just like the October show. This year the Special Edition moved to Pier 94. In my opinion, this didn’t work.
Unlike The Geeky Redhead who found the .7 mile walk from the Midtown ferry to Pier 94 to be easy, I did not. I took it slow. One of my issues with this has nothing to do with the con and more to do with New York City and how it seems to hate anything convenient. Cabs are hard to get. Subways and bus routes are confusing. The NY Waterway has free buses even on weekends. If you’ve taken the ferry, you are supposed to be allowed on one of these buses. Once I noticed that the new location was Pier 94, I began doing my internet research. According the Waterway site, I should have been allowed to take their #57 bus straight up West 12th along the river and then gotten out in the low 50’s somewhere like 53rd or 54th. That would have shortened my trip considerably.
When I got off the ferry, I went directly to the bus dispatcher and asked him how I would get to Pier 94. He never even offered me any of the bus routes and told me to walk. I checked my calendar on the SENYC app and didn’t have to hurry because I already knew I wouldn’t make any of the early panels so I wasn’t required to be there until around 1pm. Well, I’m not used to walking. I’m in a part of New Jersey where we walk a couple feet from our doors to our cars then drive. We don’t walk, bike, or hail cabs. We don’t have sidewalks. We don’t have mass transit. Since I knew I’d need some strength for actually walking inside the con, I didn’t want to be wiped out before I got there. Too bad for me. It was a long walk and it wasn’t even over.
I got near the Pier 94 building around 10am. The line was yet another half mile beyond the building which meant one more mile of walking to the end and then back to the door. I asked a volunteer if Press could go right in and find the Pro Registration and was told that I had to queue in the mile of people. I didn’t get inside and get my badge until 10:49. It had just stopped raining. I remember my first NYCC at the Javits which was held in February one year and they ran the queue outside the building; back then I was cosplaying and so furious just like everyone else. Luckily, this June 6th the rain stopped and the weather ended up being beautiful for New York – not too humid or grossly hot. Seeing all the cosplayers, I sympathized with them that they must have gotten rained on for a while before it stopped. And once I caught up with Kate, she said she never saw any kind of coat check either.
Inside the Pier 94 hall, it was dark and gloomy. The floor didn’t have any carpeting at all, not even for artists who had to work their booths for two long days. I wore Sketchers sneakers and my back, legs and hips were completely out of commission by the end of Day One. The ceiling was a dark grey and I felt like I was inside a submarine. I talked with several artist friends and all of us had the same emotional resonance about the place. It was just awful and didn’t feel like the proper place to be conducting creativity based business.
The bathrooms, as Kate said in her review, were in need of improvements. One of my trips to the ladies’ room there was a lack of toilet paper and no drying in either towel or machine form unless I missed them hidden somewhere. Fortunately the lines were never unbearable.
The “theaters” weren’t actual rooms at all. This was a HUGE problem for me. At the Javits, the problem there is that the panel rooms are on the lowest level and far from the North Pavilion. In Pier 94, the panel rooms, called Theaters 1 & 2, were conveniently near the front entrance. The problem was they were terrible and not actual rooms; even in venues where the dividers are thicker, sound can be a problem, but at Pier 94, it was an impossible battle since mere curtains separated the areas from each other. Both had what looked to be decent audio/visual setups. There were speakers flanking the ends of the rows. The screens for the visuals worked really well unless you were too far back (there was no midway screen as they do for the largest rooms of the Javits). Theater 2’s sound system overpowered Theater 1 quite badly. All the panels I wanted to attend were in #1. I sat either next to a speaker or in the front row close to a speaker and I still had a hard time. I recorded two panels completely and got a sound byte from another that I’ll share.
The schedule of SENYC panels seemed to cover at least a little bit of everything. There were panels for the major publishers, diversity specific panels about ethnicities and gender issues, and panels about making comics. To me, it felt grounded and true to the mission which was that SENYC was going to be about comics. There was a panel I wanted to attended but missed where The Mary Sue staff was going to talk about other pop culture media like what movies they were looking forward to and that’s the only thing I noticed that went slightly off-message. Even then, I’m sure the movies discussed would be things like Captain Marvel or Black Panther.
My other favorite thing about the SENYC panels was that every one I attended or even popped into just to take a peek, had women included. There weren’t “women’s” panels. It was INCLUSIVE! One of those panels, that I’m not sure what it was but poked my head into, was actually only women on the stage but I don’t think it was a “girls” thing, just coincidence that those creators involved in the subject were women. Looking back at the schedule, it may have been the panel titled People in Comics. I’ll have detailed notes on a few specific panels I attended and recorded specifically geared towards making comics and understanding contracts.
VODKA O’CLOCK SOUND BYTE
I entered one of the panels already in progress. It was one of the Image Comics panels. What got my attention was that it was the Q&A portion and someone from the audience asked BITCH PLANET’S Valentine DeLandro about inspiration for drawing diverse body types. He gave a great response and then artist Brandon Graham answered a little bit too. So here’s a Vodka O’Clock Shot episode of just those answers.
Listen here or on iTunes and Stitcher.
** Related: Check out Kate’s thoughts on SENYC and stay tuned for some podcasts of panels.
MORE SENYC COVERAGE
Writing & Pitching Comics Panel (coming June 22,2015)