12-MAY-2014 AMBER LOVE JUNE 14-15 2014 is the SPECIAL EDITION: NEW YORK COMIC CON. What the heck is that, you ask? There’s already a massive NY Comic Con so what’s special about this? I’m not a representative for ReedPop, only a press member, but here’s what I can glean from the information. It’s taking just the Artists’ Alley of New York Comic Con and having a show with nothing else but them and their panels in order to showcase comics only instead of Hollywood blockbusters, video gaming and miscellaneous merchants.
I’M READY FOR IT
Every year that I’ve attended the “big” NYCC, I can remember getting a survey afterward to provide feedback to Reed (now ReedPop). At first, I figured this was data collected to keep people on mailing lists but that the feedback itself would be generally ignored. I heard Lance Fensterman on an episode of Comic Geek Speak saying they take their feedback very seriously. The past couple of years I can remember emphasizing that Artists’ Alley (AA) has been my primary reason for attending the show. I’ve unfortunately missed panels most of the time because I spend all my time talking to creators and publishers. I haven’t even cosplayed and done massive photoshoots in a while.
If I had not been accepted into the Press junket, I still would’ve spent one day at the show, most likely, since I have friend exhibiting there who kindly offered to deal with me all day in order to get me out of the confines of rural New Jersey after our catastrophic winter o’ doom. I was still hesitant. It’s New York City and I’m not the biggest fan of NYC’s long blocks and impossible-to-get weekend taxi service. I look back at my first few convention years and have absolutely no idea how I was in high heeled superhero boots from early in the morning until late at night and commuted each day. Now if I’m on my feet in comfortable shoes for an hour, I really need to sit down. My convention times have been cut a lot shorter and I’ve switched from the grueling hours of comic cons to more sedentary-friendly small shows like steampunk gatherings where there are parlors with chairs. I still see writers, artists, fashion designers and costumers but I get to spend a lot more time sitting and not walking a quarter mile from a publisher area to an artists’ area. Needless to say, the October NYCC has been exhausting and very physically painful for me for a few years.
REEDPOP VS WIZARD
I’d rather be in city of Philly but, ReedPop announced this June “Special Edition” of the NYCC. It seemed like a promising concept right off the bat. First of all, the only other game in town in the metro area is Wizard World and they’ve been alienating creators, fans and press at a growing rate (I have no idea how their profits are actually increasing); incidentally the Philly show is now 4 days and a couple days after NYCCSE. I was even told there’s a “boycott Wizard” Facebook Page.
Consider this: NYC (and Philly) is a very expensive destination so asking creators and fans to come to the city twice a year almost seems like you’re making them choose between salted caramel and rocky road because unless they’re local, they probably can’t do both the Special show and the October show.
What Wizard Philly has is a bunch of WWE wrestlers and TV stars. I know, I know. Wrestlers. Here’s the thing… I know a TON of comic fans that are also big fans of wrestling. I guess it’s not a far stretch. It’s bulgy muscles in spandex with a lot of shiny skin and people throwing each other around. Sounds like a superhero comic. And, after all, Spidey started in the ring. It’s simply not my thing. I tried to watch wrestling back in the Roddy Piper, Hulkamania, Andre the Giant days because I hung out with a girl who LOVED it and I really like to use her swimming pool. As for Wizard’s TV stars… Nathan Fillion. I adore him. I would have his babies. However, I’m not going to stand in line for hours to get a piece of paper signed. I’d rather have art, to be perfectly honest. So unless Mr. Fillion is going to ask me to be his date for the Emmys, I’ll pass on that being a particular draw for me.
That leaves me to compare apples to apples or in the case of cons: artists to artists. I’ve had friends and acquaintances talk to me personally and post publicly about how they felt Wizard didn’t treat them well. That should bother any comics fan because without the source – the comics – we have nothing in this specific part of industry. Comics do lead to other outlets like TV and film but it’s really something special when fans can embrace the source material. Smaller regional shows that are 100% about comics such as Indiana’s Appleseed Con and Maryland’s Baltimore Comic Con appear to get a better ratio of good to bad buzz on social media and podcasts (maybe that’s the purely the bias of the feeds I happen to follow). It’s not that there isn’t “more” good chatter about NYCC; it’s just that there’s less “bad” chatter about the smaller shows. With that in mind, I was again intrigued by this concept of a special show that doesn’t have video games, celebrities, movie trailer premiers, giant spaces of t-shirt vendors and is only about creators.
After it was announced, I got to looking up the ticket information. There’s a Kids Over 6 price (5 & under are free), single day passes for Saturday or Sunday, and VIP Weekend tickets. Something was missing. There weren’t any “retailer” tickets or “comic professional” ticket categories. That was an unpleasant discovery. What they call “retailer tickets” isn’t what it used to mean. It no longer means “people who work in comic shop retail” and now means “exclusive shops that carry tickets to the show.” Why? I guess if online tickets sell out, there’s a chance you can still get one at one of the “retailer ticket” places. I wrote to the con and asked about it. I wasn’t satisfied with the reply either. It was over Twitter and something akin to wanting to keep the show focused on comic fans. I pondered that. I let the hamsters in my head churn it over a few times. I don’t see any benefit to not providing reduced ticket prices for the retailers (where fans get their products) or professionals attending but not tabling (who create the materials for the fans in the first place). It still seems odd even after I’ve thought about it for weeks. As of this date, VIP tickets are sold out but others are available.
SLOW INCREASE OF FEMALE CREATORS
Out of the 13 highlighted “Spotlight Creators,” two are women: Gail Simone and Laura Allred. I mention it out of edification only because there’s been a huge push to get convention organizers to cease alienating female or minority creators. And I hate to point it out, but Laura Allred is attending with her husband, Michael Allred which makes me wonder if they would have her as a Spotlight Creator on her own. The AA list has a few female creators listed but not that many. They include Amy Reeder, Marguerite Bennett, Erica Schultz and Jenny Frison. I think it’s still less than 25% of the “Featured Creators” (the 2nd tier) which are women if that’s something you’re analyzing.
The opportunity to pitch a panel is closed and they haven’t announced the schedule of what’s been approved yet.
Clearly under the ABOUT menu is the Harassment Policy which is something everyone has been asking of all convention organizers.
They also have an explicitly stated policy for Fans with Special Needs who can qualify for Medical Badges. You still have to wait in lines and don’t really get any special treatment except for a pass for a medical companion. No guaranteed parking. No guaranteed room for medication storage. Basically no guarantees of anything except that they will try their best to accommodate you.
I emailed the show about cosplay because it wasn’t specifically mentioned on the site and they said cosplay is encouraged. This might aggravate some of the artists. It’s supposed to be a show about them and I see plenty of irate tweets about how cosplayers and photographers are completely inconsiderate of AA space. If the aisles are wide, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. People will always stop walking in the middle of a walkway and cause traffic jams whether they are in costume or not. People will always be asked to stop for a picture right in front of booths and tables (sometimes by the artists who like to see the costumes). If you’re in costume and have large wings, giant props, or other accoutrements that keep you from maintaining the normal steady flow of the pedestrian traffic, it is best to hang out at the end of the aisles for pictures. You can always have a change of clothes so that you can spend a few hours actually shopping up and down the aisles unencumbered.