New York Comic Con just wrapped up this past Sunday, the fifth edition of this quickly growing East Coast convention. Has it been five years already? It seems like only yesterday that crowds were swarming outside the Jacob Javits Center on a Saturday afternoon and I was stuck at home due to a sprained foot (lucky me?). Well, it’s technically only been four years, but the crowds are still swarming and there were two words on everyone’s lips:
As in, how much this con was trying to be San Diego Comic Con, how much more this con focused on comics than San Diego (or how it didn’t focus on the right comics), and most of all, how much the crowds were like San Diego Comic Con, that is, crazy-crowded and hard-to-navigate. Getting from one end of the Javits Center to the other was a real pain; many found it easier to just exit the exhibit hall and re-enter close to their destinations…just like at San Diego.
It didn’t help that the Javits Center is currently undergoing major reconstruction, which when completed, will probably alleviate a lot of the major crowd control problems that this year’s show had. The exhibit hall was split in two, with the small press area, the artists’ alley, podcast arena, autographs, and Intel on the south side of the blockage, and everything else on the north side. The two areas were connected by passageways at the front and back of the hall. There were complaints that the south was too isolated, but in practice all this meant was that it didn’t become as insanely packed as the other side. The aisles were mostly wide and walkable, though it was a bit of a pain to make it through the small press area to the artists’ alley; they need bigger aisles.
My biggest problem with the floor layout was how the big stuff is always placed directly in the middle…just like at San Diego. The problem with this is that you have a heavy-traffic area sandwiched between two low-traffic areas, and if someone wanted to stay away from the big crowded booths and just walk the low key booths…they can’t. At some point they will have to either walk through or walk around the crowded area. I think it would be healthier for traffic flow if these points of blockage were placed at the far end of the hall, and a person will only have to go there if they want to be there. I doubt that these larger booths will suffer in any way; people still want to see their movie and television and video game releases.
Speaking of non-comic media, one of the biggest praises of New York Comic Con was how little non-comic media was there. Oh, there were a good number of video game booths like Nintendo and Ubisoft, and a large booth promoting the Alien Anthology, but they were not overwhelming, and this breakdown was also reflected in the programming selection. The programming was still very heavily comics, and the programming that wasn’t was mostly animation (comics’ younger and more popular sibling) or genre-related, like the Unbreakable panel on Sunday.
New York Comic Con 2010 also had a strange flip side in that New York Anime Festival was also taking place in the building, under the same general admission (as indicated on the badges) but for the most part, isolated downstairs with their own programming area and artist alley. Apparently ReedPop offered them a separate dealers’ room as well but they turned it down, probably a wise decision given the amount of traffic the main hall was getting. People were complaining that NYAF was shunted off to the side, but it’s also possible that had it been more integrated into the main NYCC show, people would be complaining that the Japanese stuff was “getting lost,” or that “American and Japanese stuff shouldn’t be mixed.” Whatever. Anime and manga are just animation and comics to me anyway, but I do think they struck a good balance for the two shows.
I had to head down to Philadelphia on Sunday for a wedding so I missed the last day of the show, and that kind of truncated the whole experience for me. I didn’t get to see as many panels as I would have wanted; I couldn’t spend as much time on the floor as I wanted. I usually explore the floor on the last day, when the crowds have lessened and there’s more bargains to be had. Despite that, I managed to accrue a decent swag list, and I did go into total sensory overload… in my first five minutes on the floor. It was pretty amazing.
I’m actually proud that this is my “hometown con.” Now, if only they could finish that extension, then we’ll start seeing some real San Diego-like action…