When you talk about comic conventions, while there are so many that occur anymore, there are still some that stand out as the top echelon of conventions. New York Comic Con stands high atop the best of the best, so when we had a chance to attend for the first time, needless to say we were pretty excited to see what one of the biggest cities in the United States could bring to the table. This year we have had the opportunity to visit many convention, but none, and we mean none, have been as big and full of comic goodness as New York Comic Con 2014.
Right off the bat, one of the biggest advantages of NYCC are the tickets. As we stated, there are not to many bigger conventions in the year then here. San Diego is of course the first to come to mind as a larger size. Yet, how many hoops do you have to jump through to hopefully, possibly get a chance at purchasing a ticket for San Diego; all the hope and determination at getting in will not guarantee you access. As big as NYCC is, if you want to go you can get tickets. Sure, the convention did, and probably always will sell out, but if you plan accordingly you can actually buy your tickets. Not only that, but you can get them for a very fair price. No single day ticket will break the bank, and even the 4-day pass is fairly reasonable at $95 considering it is 4 days of comic and everything in fandom goodness. For its size and fame, you simply cannot beat the price.
Typically in our reviews, we would cover parking. Many conventions you’re going to have to park out of necessity. This is New York. If you decide to drive straight into the city, may God have mercy on your soul. Plenty of people do it every day obviously, but there is absolutely no reason you should have to with the trains, public busses, cabs, and subways. Not only that, but the convention had regularly scheduled busing to escort you back and forth between some of the biggest hotels and train stations. This was a fantastic service that while we did not have to take advantage of, was amazing to have offered.
Once you did find your way to the Jacob K. Javitz Convention Center, things could look overwhelming, but was actually very organized. All entrances and exits were clearly marked with large flags. On the outside, the far left entrance of the building was used as an entrance for vendors, exhibitors, professionals, press, and will call. If you already had your ticket, you entered from the right side. At the opening of the convention, this led to the queue line inside the convention center which you could either get into on the right or go to the left to get in line for the main stage panels. It was a giant mass of fans excitedly waiting to enter the show floor, but you never had to fear getting lost or sent in the wrong direction as there were plenty of staff members outside and in to politely direct you to the correct spot.
If you decided not to go straight into the convention as your first order of business, you could enter the line for the main stage panels each day, the biggest panels of the convention in the biggest room. Each panel that took place in the main stage had a separate queue line you could enter where eventually you would receive a wrist band. Once you had your wrist band, you could at that point leave and know that you could come back closer to its start time without fear of not getting in. This process had both positives and negatives. In previous years you simply had to jump in line until the start of the main stage panel you wanted to attend, which possibly meant you had to wait for hours to ensure entrance. Now you just had to wait until they gave you your wrist band and you were free to enjoy the convention. Unfortunately this still did not eliminate lines altogether. Of course if you did not want to sit in the back, you still had to come back fairly early to get back in line. This also meant for the biggest of panels you would need to get to the convention early. On many, if you were not there before the convention opened, there was a big chance the panel was already filled. The final negative we found was the speed of when the wristbands were handed out. If you were there before the convention officially started for the day, you had to wait for the entire queue line for the convention to go in first, and then wait a bit more. By the time they finally did begin to hand out wristbands, depending on the size of the line you may have been waiting for quite a while until you received yours.
We found one other frustrating problem with the normal panels. Requiring a wrist band for access to the main stage panels meant that after a panel ended, everyone was forced out and you had to have a wrist band for the next panel to stay. For all other regular panels, there were not a mandatory room clearing. While we only heard about this happening a few times, you could potentially stand in line for a panel for an hour just to find out that no one from the last panel was leaving the room. At this point you are out of luck and just spent a lot of time waiting for nothing. Trying to clear every room after every panel would take an incredible amount of more effort, but in the spirit of fairness it seems like it might be a better choice.
So at this point you have gotten into the convention, figured out the panels you want to attend, but what about the size? If you have never been to the Javitz Center, it is massive. If you want to enjoy everything the convention has to offer, be prepared to do a mighty amount of walking. The sub level of the convention center housed all of the panels from end to end along with the queue lines and media guests each taking up a gigantic chunk. On the ground floor you had a choice to go down, go up escalators to get to the show floor, or take a long hallway to what seemed like a separate convention, but was in fact one of the biggest artist alleys we have ever witnessed.
The main show floor housed all of the artistic vendors on the left, publishers in the middle, and main vendors on the right. The aisles were quite large wherever you went, but when it looks like you have a majority of New York City inside, you are going to feel crowded no matter what. Artist alley smartly was placed almost separate of the rest of the convention. The hallway to take you there seemed long and endless. Once you were there though, you could tell why it needed an area of its own. A giant hanger sized area, every time we stepped foot in there it was a giant mass of fans waiting to see their favorite comic creators. If you wanted to you could also go check out your favorite publishers to see what they were doing for the convention. When you needed a little break from the running around, you could hop in line to try out some of the upcoming games from several big game developers.
For the guests themselves, it is near impossible not to find someone you would be excited about to meet whether it was a media guest or comic guest. You did need to put a little research into who you wanted to meet though. Several of the media guests listed only were in attendance for their specific panel, so you did not have a chance to meet them. On the comic creator side, as far as we could tell, everyone listed as a guest was available for autographs. The catch on this, however, is that you several times to get an autograph it was under special circumstances. A huge name in comics and media right now, Robert Kirkman, was signing at times, but you had to go to a specific booth first thing in the morning to hopefully get a wristband to come back later in the day. This was the case for several bigger creators and they only signed for an hour at a time, so of course space was very limited on this. With this said, there were still more than enough wonderful guests you could meet without problem.
If your main goal in going to NYCC was for purchasing some of the coolest things that fandom could hold, you were not going to leave disappointed. Many vendors had incredible exclusives made for this years convention, such as toys, posters, and exclusive covers for comics or TPBs. The Bloc, on the left side of the show floor housed the more artistic vendors where you could find some truly inspired art in forms of prints, vinyl toys, and more. The right side of the floor contained just about any comic book you could possibly want. At the same time, it didn’t matter what you were a fan of, there was a vendor for just about anything in the world of fandom you could possibly want.
The convention was massive in just about every aspect of it. To really get everything out of your experience you really need to plan ahead, which makes downloading the NYCC phone app almost a requirement. For us it was a life saver, but for anyone it will really help you get the most out of the convention, as it is very easy to get lost in the majesty of it all. You want to meet your favorite comic creator? They were probably there. Want you meet one of your favorite actors? You possibly could have shaken their hand or at least sat in marvel watching them during a panel. You want to buy that must have item to make all of your friends jealous? For that you had hundreds of opportunities.
If you want to go to a premier comic convention, it doesn’t get much better than New York Comic Con. San Diego Comic Con still sits on top of the list when you talk about conventions. Yet how many times do you hear comic creators talk about big media pushing them out? New York still has the perfect mix, where in the end comic books are still the dominating force over the movies. We could not rave anymore about how magical a place it is, for us it was like going into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. It does not matter if you live near New York or not, plan on going. This will be one of the best times you will have all year as you melt into more fans than you could have ever thought possible.
Ticket Price: ★★★★★