New York Comic Con: Day 1 Recap

I tried writing out my con experiences long form, but it was turning out way too long, so I figured it’d be easier for all of us if I bullet point it.

Day 1

  • Not the most auspicious beginning – they didn’t have my badge. Anywhere. After the easy time I had had getting my original ticket refunded when I found out a few weeks earlier that I qualified for a professional badge, though, I was sort of expecting the worst to happen at any second, and I figured this was going to be it. However, I’m pleased to say, the entire thing became a non-problem astoundingly quickly, as they set me up with a homemade badge on the spot. It traded fancy print fonts for a “Hello, my name is…” sort of feel, but it got me in the door, and that’s all I cared about. So right out of the starting gate, I was pretty impressed with their ability to handle things.

  • After getting that straightened out, we (we meaning myself and my friends Dan and Jeff, two high school English teachers from Maine) made a beeline for the show floor, anxious to see and experience as much as we could before the rest of the crowds started coming in at 4. It was great to be able to move, look around, talk to people, and shop without constantly having to jockey for elbow room. It was fun to people watch, too, and see all the various pros and exhibitors in the calm before the storm. You'd see Paul Levitz milling around the DC booth, Chris Claremont wandering the aisles and saying a brief hello to Mike Mignola, and hey, there goes Jeff Smith. Everyone was so relaxed; it was almost the polar opposite of every other con-going experience I've ever had.

  • Speaking of Chris Claremont, while I was in line getting a poster signed by Mike Mignola, he happened to walk by Dan and Jeff. Dan didn't want to pester him, but offered up a polite thank you for Excalibur, the book that got him interested in comics in the first place. Claremont said thanks, and walked away, only to come back a minute later, tap them both on the shoulder, and ask if they're reading the current version of the book. Meanwhile, I'm over in the line, glancing back, and wondering who that guy in the tweed jacket is, and why does he look familiar?

  • We met a lot of great creators out on the floor, including Jimmy Gownley from Amelia Rules (who I thanked profusely for creating such a fun book, and he did a little Amelia head sketch in the copy of the Superheroes trade I bought), John Gallagher and Rich Faber from Buzzboy (who I similarly thanked), Raine Telgemeier (who signed copies of both Babysitters Club graphic novels for Dan's wife), Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden (who signed the poster for their upcoming book, Baltimore), Evan Dorkin (who was kinda cranky, but also still in the process of setting up, so I'll cut him some slack), the aforementioned Claremont run-in, and Cecil Castellucci (easily one of the coolest people I've met in a long time) and Jim Rugg, creators of the new DC Minx line graphic novel, The Plain Janes (more on this later).

  • I don't know if it was this way during the regular hours, but Friday morning, the various prose publishers present were practically falling all over themselves to give away freebies - posters, buttons, excerpts, previous novels, and even full preview copies of upcoming titles. You could very easily fill your arms with stuff to read without having to drop a single penny if you didn't want to. Dan especially cleaned up in this regard - once the reps heard he was a high school teacher married to a middle school librarian, they couldn't hand him stuff fast enough.

  • Lots of great deals to be found if you were willing to pay for stuff, too, especially at the First Second booth, where every book was on sale for $10 each, and if you bought two, you'd get a third free. Better yet, the free books were all titles that haven't been officially released yet, so I was able to get a copy of The Professor's Daughter to go with Sardine in Outer Space and A.L.I.E.E.N., so I was quite happy about that. Fun, beautiful comics are all too rare these days.

  • Artist Alley and the Podcast Arena were great places to hang out, meet folks, and pick stuff up, too. We talked with Neal Adams, which went exactly the way you'd expect. His views on education are almost as unique as his science. Talked for a while with Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey from Action Philosophers and picked up the second trade. Picked up the the con exclusive version of the upcoming Subculture #1 from Stan Yan, who I remembered from the Sequential Tart boards. Talked with Robin artist Freddie Williams II and his wife, Kiki, who were amazingly cool. We hung out for a bit with the folks from the Comic Geek Speak, Indie Spinner Rack, and Comics News Insider podcasts, and I got sketches from new DC exclusive artist(and my doppelganger, circa 1998) Mike Norton (he did an amazing Blue Beetle sketch for me) and Dial R Studios artist Pat Loika (who drew Captain Marvel for me). Also met Josh Finney and Kat Rocha, who do a book called Utopiates, at the ISR table, and they were both incredibly fun people to talk with, too.

  • Gary Coleman was in the autograph area. We didn't go up to him or anything, but I feel this is worth pointing out. It was also funny to watch people notice him, because everyone had exactly the same reaction: astonishment, amusement, and a hint of pity.

  • Our one panel for the day was the Joe Quesada/Stan Lee discussion, which was a lot better than I think any of us were expecting. It was almost like Inside the Comics Studio or something (but Joe never asked Stan his favorite curse word, unfortunately). I think the coolest part was just how much credit Stan was giving to Kirby and Ditko for their roles in the creation of the Marvel Universe. He still took a lot for himself, don't get me wrong, but he outright admitted that none of it could have happened the way it did without their talents, energies, and contributions. Maybe he's coming to his senses, maybe he's trying to set the record straight so he can eventually shuffle off this mortal coil with a clear conscience... I don't know. Whatever the case, it's good to hear. But whatever his role actually was (or what you perceive it to be), if you ever get the chance to hear Stan speak, take it. He's a great storyteller (unsurprisingly), and lot of fun to listen to.

  • Having not eaten pretty much all day, we found our way to an IHOP a mile or so from our hotel in scenic North Bergen, NJ (the most poorly laid-out town I've ever seen, I might add, but at least the Super 8 was clean, and way cheaper than anything in the city), and devoured the tastiest short stack of pancakes I think I've ever eaten in my life. Of course, as I said, we hadn't eaten all day, so the pancakes could've tried to crawl away under their own power and I still would've pretty much inhaled them.

Jeez, this is already way longer than I thought. I better break this up. Day 2 highlights to come!

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