Tomorrow afternoon, I will be going somewhere I have never been: to a comic book convention in New York City.
Ever since I started going to shows, I’ve never been to a local con. Sure, the Big Apple Con is a semiannual event at Penn Pavilion, but it has never been a “main event” type of show. Basically, I go there to score good deals on back issues, ignoring the occasional A-class talent that comes by, along with the usual assortment of B-list regulars and D-grade celebrities. Even when the show becomes “The National” (those are sarcastic quotation marks), my enthusiasm barely improves, as the so-called con sticks with the confusing corridors of Penn Pavilion. And there’s the MoCCA show, but it’s basically a wall-to-wall smorgasbord of indie comics, where I never know what to get.
In a weird way, the lack of a great comic con has led me to branch out. My first plane trip was to Chicago for Wizard World. I’ve been to San Diego for Comic Con International twice, taking in the local attractions as well as what is probably the best show ever. Last year, I stayed over at a friend’s place in Toronto for the Canadian National Expo. It might be sad that I’ve done all of this flying for comic books, but at least I got out and had adventures. Have you ever had Kenny Baker (the guy in the R2D2 rig) ask you about breakfast ? And that’s the tip of the iceberg.
The closest convention I was able to reach without flying was Wizard World Philadelphia. I’ve been there four years, and only one year without any problems. First, I stayed at a hotel overnight, and only went two days. The following year, I got lost several times and rear-ended a guy (no real harm done there). Two years later, I got pulled over by a state trooper, who let me off with a warning. Roughly twenty-hour hours after that, in the same general area, a bird hit my windshield. Not good times at all, even if there was no mark left on the car. There was also the DC Comics panel where I was hoping that I would not get a ticket to a sneak preview of Batman Begins, but that’s a story for another time.
When I heard about the New York Comic-Con, which would be held at the Jacob Javits Center, I was thrilled. Finally! I wouldn’t have to drive! Mass transit all the way! What could possibly go wrong? Well...
1. It’s in February. Even with global warming in full effect, it can get pretty damn cold.
2. There were only two full days for fans to visit, with Friday being for the professionals and insiders. This was changed...us normal joes can drop by from 4-8 p.m. CCI has a similar deal, but it’s on the day before the four-day extravaganza begins.
3. The Javits Center is barely accessible by mass transit. A few local buses swing by that area, and the nearest subway stop is blocks away. Factor in the cold and a lingering foot problem, and it’s not that sweet.
4. The NYCC takes place on the same weekend as MegaCon down in Orlando. Now we have a pissing contest between the two cons, and Wizard Magazine is backing NYCC. This sucks, since the available comic talent is halved.
So...factoring all of the above, along with folks in costumes running around, why am I going to spend as much time there as I can?
It’s a gamble for me...letting comics stay on the shelves so I can get them cheaper at a show. There’s a weird hapiness of picking up a hot comic at cover price or less...like I’m stealing from the vendors. And I can get trade paperbacks at half off the cover price, which doesn’t hurt.
Listen to comic pros discuss new projects. Watch fanboys ask questions ranging from the inane to the funny. I didn’t pace myself at the Expo last year...I ended up nodding off at every panel I hit.
For five years, I had a large spiral sketchbook. Eventually, the cover fell off, and it got frayed and dirty. Over that time, I stood on line after line to get sketches. For me, a sketchbook is a guide of what I read over that time. Each sketch is unique from the others in my book and in other books. I saw an artist named Vincenzo Cucca bang out one Sephie from Meridian after another, each one different and beautiful. I’ve had writers draw in my book, ranging from the good (Geoff Johns and Joe Kelly) to the bad (Mark Waid) to the ugly (Bill Roseman...in his defense, he drew the Judge from Deadline after a panel, while standing). I met legendary artist Sal Buscema, and I surprised him by asking for a sketch of Man-Ape, who appeared on a cover of The Avengers pencilled by him, which I bought the day before. Last Christmas, my mother gave me a new book, and I will be breaking it in tomorrow.
That’s it. The fun starts tomorrow at 4 p.m. Who knows...if you’re in the area, maybe you’ll see me in the mix. Good luck and happy conning to you all.