Luck seemed to be on my side on Saturday as the weather cleared up and I managed to see and do everything I wanted to at New York Comic Con. Going in with realistic expectations and a pre-determined schedule helped, but I think part of a successful Comic Con experience is luck – and timing.
First on tap was The Nerd Machine booth, which I swore wasn’t over by The Block, but lo and behold, it was. Normally that wouldn’t have mattered but TNM was holding “Smiles for Smiles” photo ops with various celebrities to raise money for Operation Smile and Zachary Levi (Chuck) was there, like at that moment.
Despite some slightly panicked wandering of the showroom floor, my friend and I made it in time to have a super quick meet-and-greet and photo with Zachary Levi. We also each walked away with a free “Viva La Nerdolution” poster and some other swag from the merchandise table. First win of the day!
Since it was still kind of early (re: not yet at max capacity) and we were already on the showroom floor we decided to just continue shuffling through the crowds, up and down each aisle taking in as much as we could – from the artwork to the cosplayers to all the other geek-themed stuff. Finn from Adventure Time seemed to be the most common character we spotted, although there were also several Waldo sightings and we even found Carmen Sandiego.
Besides The Nerd Machine, the 20th Anniversary Power Rangers booth was my favorite find. Not only were there action figures on display from each of the seasons but there was a couple of video monitors set up playing various episodes from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. There was also a decent size replica of the original Megazord.
After about two hours on the showroom floor we hit our sensory overload limit and headed downstairs to the no-cell phone service zone to enjoy some panels. Seriously the Javits Center and T-Mobile don’t mix well, which makes the NYCC app pretty unhelpful at times. Thankfully it didn’t matter as we never needed to devise a ‘Plan B’.
For us, the first panel of the day was “The Mary Sue Presents: Representation in Geek Media”, which we narrowly made it into. Like the line was cut-off right after us, standing room only kind of narrow. I still consider that win number two of the day.
The academic nerd in me was pretty psyched for this panel, not only because it was something unique to the con experience, but also because it was a chance to contemplate and examine the larger picture of the “geek” media I consume.
The panel consisted of a couple of people from The Mary Sue website and a couple of others who are creative types within the mainstream comic book industry. Although the obvious result of the discussion was ‘yes it would be nice if media represented a greater variety of people’ I still found the panel to be quite entertaining, and funny. I think the most interesting topic brought up during the roundtable discussion was the dilemma, or lose-lose scenario, of introducing a new character into an existing universe and the equally daunting task of re-imagining an existing character to better represent our current times and diverse cultures.
Given the close call with The Mary Sue panel I wasn’t willing to take any chances on the next panel I had my eyes on, “Showrunners”, which meant some quality time camping out in the queue line. However, the good thing about line-waiting at Comic Con is that you’re surrounded by people who are deeply interested in the same thing you are.
Besides the good conversations, our get-in-line-early strategy paid off as we were able to get pretty decent seats. “Showrunners” was part exclusive clips from the upcoming documentary of the same name, and part Q&A session with the the documentary’s director and producer along with some of the featured showrunners including Terence Winter (Boardwalk Empire), Greg Plageman (Person of Interest) and Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica).
Obviously Showrunners looked really interesting and I cannot wait for its release in 2014, but getting to learn a bit more about the inner workings of a TV show from some pretty high profile people in attendance was an added bonus. Out of the entire panel and screening, the following quote is what really stuck with me, “You work just as hard on the things that fail as you do on the things that succeed.”
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that no one sets out to make bad TV, so I think that sentiment only further highlights the difficulty of creating and running a successful series, let alone one that is heralded as groundbreaking or game-changing.
By the time the “Showrunners” panel let out, the general crowd had thinned out considerably so we took a quick detour to Artist Alley before making one final trip to the showroom floor.
Last year I never made it over to Artist Alley so that turned out to be an enjoyable stroll despite my complete lack of knowledge for almost all things comic book in nature. One webcomic caught my eye though – The Zombie Office. Check it out, it’s pretty damn entertaining if you’ve got a desk job.
So good times were had by all, and the NYCC fun even spilled over into Penn Station. Two Stormtroopers were standing at the bottom of the escalator giving high fives to all of us boarding the train back to New Jersey. I can’t think of a better way to end the day.