Special Edition: New York Comic Con. The offspring of the frustratingly hard to get into NYCC.

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KATE FOIL 10-JUNE-2015 To be honest, I just love New York City. It’s one of the few places this Southern gal feels at home. (Yes guys, we have big cities down South too, it’s not all cow tipping and barn dances.) So anything that gets me up into the city is already going to have me in a good mood.

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Transportation

My goal was to take the train in from Jersey and then walk from Penn station to Pier 94. This plan went awry both days and I ended up just doing my usual of driving in and taking the ferry to the Midtown stop. Which, by the way, I do recommend. The last ferry doesn’t leave until about midnight (always double check however!), plus the ferry bathrooms are kept up and usually more pleasant the con ones. That goes for both NYCC and SE:NYC. It’s fairly pricy, I think it added up to be about 80 dollars a day for me gas, tolls, ferry and parking all added up. The train would have been a little bit cheaper but a lot longer of a ride and a lot longer walk.

The walk from the ferry to the con wasn’t too bad. It’s a straight shot so you just turn left out of the ferry and keep going. If you have mobility issues, are in heels or find it difficult to walk more than a few blocks, I would suggest grabbing a taxi. That said, my out of shape, 30-year-old self had no problems with the walk either day in my boots.

Con Floor

The con itself was easy to find. They had signs out and there was the ‘nerd herd’. For those unfamiliar with the term, nerd herd is the inevitable mass of people wearing costumes, fandom inspired shirts, dresses, etc, with lanyards that you can always follow to find the con if you get lost. Might sound silly but I’ve been using nerd herd to help me locate cons in unfamiliar territory for as long as I’ve been going to cons and it’s yet to let me down. By the way this – pardon the blurriness – always makes me smile when I walk into a con.

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The con floor itself is shaped like an L, which I only note as it seemed to create a few traffic trams around the bend. Minor issue though. More frustrating was that there weren’t enough signs marking which aisles were which, created a few issues with locating specific vendors and friends. Still, the con itself is so small that even with that, a good wander will usually let you find whoever you need. It didn’t seriously impact my con experience so I’m willing to let that go.

There was a lovely variety of art and artists, including webcomics like Questionable Content and comics based on the Jonathon Coulton songs- including “The Princess Who Saved Herself. This is a really lovely children’s book that I was unaware of before the con, featuring a rock-and-roll princess who saves herself from a witch. I saw several stands with MLP and Rwby art, that always makes me happy.

Con staff was pretty friendly – we had an incident where we thought my cell phone had been stolen and they took me into the back to look through the lost and found box. (The cell phone was recovered though long story there!) One security official got a little frustrated with me having to dig my badge out my bag, but if that is the most I can complain about, there really isn’t anything to complain about. At one point a ladies’ room had to be shut down so they turned another men’s room into a ladies’ room. I think that worked out pretty well although it was a little amusing to see a line outside the men’s room and not the women’s for once.

One of the major draws for this con is that you can buy NYCC tickets there. I do know a few people who succeeded at grabbing their tickets at the con this year whereas last year most of the feedback I got was negative.

Food

The food situation was a bit different that what I am used to. It looked like a caterer of some type had been brought in. They had set up different stands where you could buy things like hot dogs, sandwiches, chips, and candy bars. After selecting your items, you would go to one central check out line. Which did move quickly and they accepted cards so that was great. There was one vegetarian sandwich option that I saw, some fruit cups and salads. If you are on a restricted diet, I would probably bring at least some snacks with you – just in case. Unlike NYCC, which has a lot of easily accessible food options outside the con, there isn’t a lot nearby. So unless you want to walk a bit, you are pretty restricted to what they happen to have. The prices were pretty typical for a con – 8 dollars for sandwiches, about 2 bucks for water and similar for chips and candy. The sandwich was pretty darn tasty by the way!

Cosplay

My favorite part…

It was amazing! Seriously, amazing. For a small con, it was jam packed with amazing cosplayers. In terms of costume quality, in terms of personality – everyone was wonderful and friendly. A kindly Bane offered Batgirl (me) a protein bar when I commented that I felt a little light-headed during an outdoors photo shoot. An awesome Peggy Carter cosplayer made a point saying hello after the shoot. The Deadpool cosplayers behaved themselves and were a blast to joke around with. And the variety and creativity! I saw characters I’ve never seen cosplayed before and a wonderful young lady was cosplaying as a Burlesque Batwoman. Val-Zod. A Booster Gold and Blue Beetle. Steel. There was a Superman with his son cosplaying as Jimmy Olsen – how can you top that? Parenting done right.

 

I can honestly say I’ve never felt so welcomed, outside of Heroes Con way back in the day when I started cosplaying. Everyone was bright and happy and excited to be there. The photo shoots themselves were a blast – I confess that I frequently duck out of the big shoots after the ‘class picture’. These, I stayed all the way through and I am so glad I did – particularly on Sunday. When the Marvel shoot was invaded by the DC cosplayers. At which point I tried to ‘attack’ the cosplayers near me. I really did. But I was laughing too damn hard. I have no idea who came up with that idea but my hat goes off to you. It was hilarious.

 

Many attendees who weren’t in costume were dressed to represent their favorite characters, giving the con a playful atmosphere.

The con is also small enough that you can grab mini shoots fairly easily. I did a mini shoot with a few friends on Saturday at Hudson park, just outside the con, without being hassled by passerby, or being interrupted. Miguel, of Future Photography by M3, is a delight to work with by the way! Very professional and fun to shoot with. One of my favorite con moments was when the he was helping position me and realized I was wearing a green lantern ring under my Batgirl glove.

It is worth noting, however, that as we were packing up to leave, a park official told us that we had to have a permit to take photos and shooed us off. I’m not sure if she thought that we were taking commercial photos as I noticed other shoots didn’t have the same problem and took place in the same park. Something to keep in mind if you are planning a shoot there though!

Safety

I can honestly say that I never felt unsafe at SE:NYC. The inside is fairly well light (it could stand to be a little brighter but it’s a warehouse type building so there is only so much you can do). The friendly demeanor of the attendees as well as the staff went a long way to create a warm atmosphere. Walking back to the ferry alone on Sunday I felt safe. There was a bit of nerves moving in the parking garage alone since I was the only cosplayer and I knew I stood out. Regardless, everything went off without a hitch. The only comments I got walking to and from the con were positive and mostly from children.

Conclusion

The major downside of this con is the expense of getting onto the island if you don’t live in NYC. Even with that in mind though, particularly if you are a cosplayer looking to make new friends, this con is a blast. It’s small enough that you could get away with just going Saturday if you are going for the comics and shopping, though I think the fact that it is less crowded is part of what made Sunday so much fun.

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Note: If you got a card from me and your photo did not appear here, I apologize. I clearly need a lot more experience taking photos at cons as some were just too blurry to be used at all.

* Kate Foil is a cosplayer from 2009 who tries to attend as many events as possible. When not on the con floor, she can usually be found sewing or playing Dragon Age. Or on Twitter at GamerNationGirl and Facebook at The Geeky Redhead.

** Related: Check out Amber’s thoughts on SENYC and stay tuned for some podcasts of panels.