AMBER LOVE 16-OCT-2012 This was the shortest amount of time I have ever spent at New York Comic Con and after my one day visit, I don’t want to go back. If it wasn’t for the statistics that there are people at this show I would not get to see at small local shows, there’s no way I would subject myself to the disarray that is ReedPop’s epicenter on the east coast.

THE GOOD:

Arriving late on a Saturday is better than arriving early and standing in a long line needlessly. My first stop was to find Podcast Alley which I eventually did. I had quick visits with Jimmy Aquino of Comics News Insider and Pants and Bryan Deemer of Comic Geek Speak (Supershow 2013 is April 6-7!).

Ashley and I got to find the 215ink booth after our first bout of navigation issues on that floor. The creators and management of 215ink are a talented bunch with a diverse catalog of comics. I missed the DEADHORSE creators but was able to get some quality time with the rest. I attempted to do more than hog their prime corner booth space and actually chat up potential customers. I think I failed at it but had a great time and hated to leave them. I may have been a stupid fangirl in the presence of Shawn Aldridge but I’m pretty sure he’s used to my love of VIC BOONE by now.

You’ll want to keep up on their JESUS HATES ZOMBIES title for big movie news. It’s in production by actor/director Eric Balfour who I know from the early years of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER but he’s had a good solid career since those youthful days.

ARTISTS ALLEY: I appreciated that the aisles were luxuriously spacious there in that bizarrely detached isolation ward. The lighting was great too. It would have been better if there was a separate entrance/exit from the street.

I got to cover the booth of Alex Saviuk for a while so he could take a much needed break. I was happy to finally meet Stephanie Cooke and Bill Willingham who I have known on Twitter. I got to visit with Lee Weeks; Ken & Buz from The Living Corpse; Dave Pirello & Scott Derby who were walking around not tabling; finally met Brandon Seifert in person who was is a fellow Comic Experience alum; a quick hug from Chris Sotomayor; chatting with David Gallaher and Steve Ellis; bear hug from Jamal Igle; a kiss from George Perez; and my fair amount of stalking of Mike Norton.

I also finally met the infamous Elliot Serrano in person after our passionate online affair that’s lasted years. You can follow Elliot at the Chicago Tribune or through his work with Dynamite comics.

And by the end of Saturday, we were at the annual GEEK GIRLS’ NETWORK party at Stitch. Not the best bar in NYC. I would have preferred lower music instead of a club; the ambiance was a bar and we were there to catch up with each other. Nearly impossible. All conversations had to be shouted making it rather awkward and uncomfortable. At least I got to see my New York friends and other people who traveled quite far around the world to be there.

THE BAD:

First of all, this is not a show to bring children. It is not a safe show to navigate. Just like previous years, Reed insists on placing the video game booths at the front of the main hall immediately inside the entrances. Near them are the big game comic publishers and literary houses. I completely understand why Marvel Comics wants to be by the company that puts out Marvel games. That doesn’t mean I want to be cattleherded through the only entrance and have that forced upon me as an attendee or professional creator. There are four sections to this Javits Center layout: far left side of wrestlers, podcasting, smaller press; main hall of giant companies; Artists Alley off in its own building; the bottom floor of panel rooms.

Anyone with a social anxiety issue would likely know the warnings about trying to attend a convention this large. You really can’t do it comfortably. The aisles in the left side (34th St side) were small and claustrophobic. All I was carrying was a rather small backpack and I couldn’t walk without getting bumped and pushed. The vendors had barely any room in the small press area.

It took a while to go to the Podcast Alley then over to Small Press. Traversing through the main hall, there was only one booth I felt I wanted to see and that was Avatar. I managed to get there to say hello to James Kuhoric and tried to quickly leave for Artists Alley.

At that point my only vocabulary was a stream of expletives from my consciousness outwardly vocalized at the shitstorm that was the show floor plan. The escalators that leave the main hall were a traffic jam resembling bustling drone bees in a hive. The down escalator let out onto the foyer where people were having panic attacks and breakdowns. It was a mosh pit. That’s no exaggeration. I was separated from Ashley as the mass either didn’t move at all or my body was shoved into movement like a car going through an automated car wash. It was all up to the people on the edges to pump the bodies through a single file traffic merge to get to Artists Alley.

This is the point where I said:

“I will never come back to this fucking show if they don’t take people’s feedback into consideration and fix this goddamn clusterfuck of a layout!”

I would accept some of the problems if this was a first time show. I would accept it if it was a few people running a show that were overwhelmed. BUT THIS IS REED’S BUSINESS! They run trade shows. It’s what they do. That means they should be able to do that job and provide safe environments for attendees/guests. If there was any kind of emergency: fire, threat, medical… there is no way people would not be trampled causing even more distress.

I laughed when I saw a tweet by the NYCC official account requesting people attend their Feedback Panel at 4:00. I’ve given my feedback in the past about moving the gaming studios to the back so forces people who want to see them to go by other less-traffic-jamming booths.

I talked to creators who had to their distant Artists Alley tables 45-60 minutes before signings or panels in other areas of the Javits Center. Things they should consider: Podcasters will want to interview creators; this can’t happen when they are one hour walking distance. Creators will NEED to get to their panels; this can’t happen if they are one hour walking distance.

As I said before, this is not a show for children because I spoke with several parents who left their kids at home and all said they would have been far too worried about losing their children in this crowd. I know a couple who did bring their darling newborn to the show. I’m wondering if it was easier for them because they had a baby that required holding rather than a very short human getting an ass-only view of the show trying to hold hands with a guardian.

When I finally did get through that nightmare of a hallway, Ashley and I found Artists Alley. My plan was that once there, I would not return to the main hall. Artists Alley is my haven. It’s calmer, less noisy, and far more enjoyable than anywhere else in NYCC. There were practical issues in AA because of course, nothing can run smoothly.

Simple necessities such as working bathrooms complete with toilet paper were not something women in the Javits Center could count on. When we found a working restroom, one poor woman stood in a stall handing out toilet paper just so all the other women could go into the other stalls. Again, this should not have been a surprise to ReedPop or to the Javits Center management. This show sold well over 100,000 passes. They knew how many people would require their services.

And my final gripe is that my already craptastic Verizon service only worked at specific points on the convention floor. Last year, (with a different phone) my Verizon worked while my friends with iPhones on other networks had problems. I remember last year there were rumors that there was actually some kind of blockage on the mobile access due to corporate relationships. To which I reply, What.The.Fuck. This is New York City – not my country bumpkin backwater town – I expect cell phone service as did 100,000 other people.

6 comments on “Amber’s NYCC 2012 recap and it’s brutal. Why I won’t return to NYCC unless they fix things.”

  1. I read though your entire blog and I have to admit that you do have a couple valid points, but otherwise you are placing blame on the wrong person. Yes, it was crowded. Yes, there were over 100,000 tickets sold and yes, cellular service crashed for a few hours on Saturday. However how can YOU place blame for everything on ReedPop?

    Do you seriously think that ReedPop tells their exhibitors what booth to take just so they can bottle-neck the lines, or do you think that the company paying for the booth tells ReedPop what booth they want with the money they spend? On top of that, if you were a big name company, hell, even if you were a nobody company, where would you want to be…. In the back or right up front where everyone can see you?

    I don’t know why you chose to point out people with anxiety issues, but I would assume that everyone would understand the warnings about navigating a convention of that size; same as they would traveling to Universal Studios or Disney in August. You were attending the #1 comic convention on the east coast on Saturday, the busiest day; did you not think it would be crowded? (and from my take, the aisles were the same size on the 34th street side as they were on the 38th street side – although I didn’t pull out a ruler and measure).

    I didn’t hear of any fatalities at the show but I did see one staff member helping a girl waiting for EMT’s to arrive. He took her out of line, sat her down and called security right away. It seemed to me that they did provide a safe environment as the security guy and EMT’s arrived pretty quickly.

    You keep complaining about the distant Artist Alley tables, but you also complained that the show floor was too crowded – where did you expect Artist Alley to be, on the floor? The walk to Artist Alley wasn’t that bad and it provided the artist with their own room and forum so they can be seen. I for one, wasn’t so lazy that I minded the 2 minute walk from the main building to the Artist Alley.

    In closing, your final two complaints really take the cake. You bitched about there not being toilet paper or cell service, neither of which ReedPop controls. Perhaps, you didn’t notice all the bathrooms around the Javit’s Center, or the Javit’s employees cleaning and stocking them throughout the day. I don’t think that Reed brings their own bathrooms to the show, I am pretty sure that they are part of the Javit’s and the Javit’s maintains them. Such would be the same with your “craptastic” cell phone. I got news for you, there was no service outside the center either…. How can you blame Reed for your provider failing to maintain your service?

    I saw a link to your posting on Facebook and thought that it wouldn’t be right if someone didn’t stand up for the Con. Like I said, yes it was busy, yes there were a lot of people there, but in the end it was a GREAT EVENT and I would like to thank ReedPop for everything they gave us!

    • Doug,
      Perhaps you didn’t see where I did mention Javits Center management. You might want to double check before criticizing HOW someone else criticizes a venue.

      My comparison about aisle widths is that the 34th St. aisles were tight and barely passable as compared to Artists Alley which I said was spacious. And as for where you get your booth — companies do not choose where their booths are. I talked to small business owners and artists and they will refer to it “I liked/did not like the space THEY gave me this year.” Artists Alley was not 2 minutes away as you put it. Like I said, I talked to Bill Willingham’s assistant and for every panel and signing she had to get him to, they had to leave their AA table 45-60 minutes ahead to get to them on time. It also took me almost 30 minutes to get through that hallway. Don’t you dare call people lazy when there was no conceivable way for them to get around! Expecting to walk through a hallway without it being a mosh pit has no bearing on whether a person meets your superior gradations of fitness.

      I also never blamed ReedPop for my cell phone service. Again, you really need to read through what I wrote. ReedPop runs the show and they receive my money for a pass; therefore, if there are problems at the show it’s for them to bear even if such things as toilet paper and mobile blackouts aren’t their business.

      Now as for addressing people with anxiety issues, your insensitivity astounds me but then I have to remind myself, this is the internet where no one cares about other human beings. A friend of mine went to the show last year because he’s been an avid comics reader and gamer his entire life. He has some of the most severe anxiety issues I’ve ever seen in a person. He wanted to go because of his love for the media. He was brave enough to try it just once. He will never go again. So you can take your WebMD degree and shove it. People with any kind of issue find some ounces of comfort in discussing their problems whether you believe they should voice their concerns or not.

  2. Clear, concise, and exactly the reason I don’t typically attend the bigger mainstream conventions. You miss out on some of the more fun displays and cosplay contests, but there’s more room to talk to creators at SPACE, SPX, or STUMPTOWN. I always discover new books at those shows. I find cheap back issues of Swamp Thing and Justice League Europe at the big shows.

    Great article!

  3. I have to say from personal experience, I LOVE New York Comic Con. But I know that it’s a one day only con and preferably that day is Friday.

    I generally get in. Swag the hall. Go the the guest area. And get out. There are a lot of guests I’d never get to see at the smaller shows. There are also a lot of booths for the small press companies that can only afford a show or two a year. Now I admit I go to cons for different reasons then you do so my thoughts on NYCC are going to be different.

    But for my purposes NYCC has always been a great show and they’ve actually improved the way they handle the crowds compared to years past. This year was a step back from 2011’s but MUCH better then how 2010’s was.

    I think the placing of the artist ally was wonderful. People want to meet with artists rather then get something signed and run off. I’ve always avoided the AA at NYCC because it was also so hard to move threw. But by giving it as much room as it they did it didn’t feel nearly as cramped as it has for years.

    As far as the video game bottle neck goes. . .It’s still better then the way last year’s was. Last year had Marvel and Capcom right near an entryway and you couldn’t even remotely get passed them. This year while, yes, the dancing game was a pain in the ass the other video game booths weren’t nearly as bad. Also, to be fair, Reed offers the booths as available to whomever buys the space first. If video game companies opt to buy those areas it’s annoying, but not Reed’s fault. They can’t sell the spaces but “If you’re a video game company you can’t have this space” without starting issues with the video game community.

    Maybe they could less less booths and create a little more space but that’s about it.

    • And THAT is how you disagree like a mature human being. Thank you, Jesse. I’m glad you loved the show. There are thousands of people who did.

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