Special Edition NYC: Uber-Focus on Comics a Mixed Blessing

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Mohawk Storm
An incredible Mohawk Storm at Special Edition: NYC. Photo by Corrina Lawson.

The first Special Edition of New York Comic Con focusing on just comics took place at the Jacob K. Javits Center last weekend. I made the hike in from Connecticut with my youngest son (15) and we spent both days at the con. Was it worth it? Yes, but I’m hopeful some improvements will be made next year, as there were some issues.

The Good:

1. The panels were thought-provoking and fun. And, unlike at the big New York Comic Con in October, not so crowded that you had to stand in line for hours to get in.

In particular, the “Batman 75th Anniversary” panel from DC Comics had some tidbits for fans. Moderator John Cunningham of DC Comics had seen the pilot of Gotham and was full of praise. For Renee Montoya fans, he said she’s written just like in Gotham Central. However, when prompted by a panel question, Cunningham said that her personal life wasn’t addressed in the pilot. That doesn’t mean she’s not a lesbian, as in the comics, just that her personal life didn’t come into play as yet. Cunningham also said the Batman television show with Adam West and Burt Ward will be out this fall on Blu-ray and DVD.

On the same panel, Greg Pak and Francis Manapul both identified David Mazzucchelli of Batman: Year One as one of the definitive Batman artists, though his contribution was limited to the one storyline. I agree he’s definitive, but found it fascinating that Mazzucchelli has had such an impact with one story.

NYC Special Edition
The “Reimagining the Female Hero” panel with moderator Ben Saunders and Jenny Frison, Emanuela Lupacchino, Marguerite Bennet, Gail Simone, and Amy Reeder. Photo by Corrina Lawson.

I also attended “Reimagining the Female Hero,” with a wonderful lineup of Gail Simone, Emanuela Lupacchino, Marguerite Bennett, Jenny Frison, and Amy Reeder; “Sexy, Strange and Silly: The Lost Superheroes of the Golden Age,” which was hilarious and fun; and “Archie: Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man,” because my son insisted and he and his sister are avid fans of Sonic.

Jim  Gordon
“My Jim Gordon” sketch by Gabriel Hardman. Photo by Corrina Lawson.

2. The creators in the Artists’ Alley were easy to find and only minimal waits were required to get books signed or even have a chance to chat with your favorite writer/artist. Gail Simone had a line for most of Saturday, but it seemed to move fine.

3. The focus on comics really brought out serious comic book fans.  One small press, Grayhaven Comics, reported that attendees were more willing to stop by, talk, and visit than at the big New York Comic Con. Plus, if you like diving into back issues, this was a show meant for you, as many comic shop vendors seemed to have brought their entire collections.

The Bad:

1. The focus on comics didn’t include much manga and instead focused on American comics. This disappointed my manga-loving son. From eyeballing the creators attending, I was happy to see a diverse group, especially a number of women artists. The fans were also a very mixed crowd, meaning they weren’t the all-white and all-male stereotype of comic fans. That’s why I’m hoping the con next year recognizes American comics aren’t the only kind of comics.

2. There was very little merchandise to be bought from the exhibitors, save for comics. I know, this sounds like a weird complaint, but I’ve bought Daily Planet and Gotham City Police Department t-shirts at my last two cons. I was hoping to find some comic-focused geeky shirts, but there were none to be had. There was also very little in the way of collectible figures. I think the organizers wanted to keep the focus tight on only comics, but I hope if they do it next year, they loosen it up a bit and allow more comic-related merchandise.

Captain marvel, Carol Corps, Kelly Sue DeConnick
Carol Corps was well-represented at the con. (And I want this dress!) Photo by Corrina Lawson.

3. The panels were all the way across the Javits Center from the rest of the con. That’s a hike of nearly a block with nothing in between. This was due to the fact that construction made the closer panel rooms unavailable, but it still was an issue. Hopefully, the construction problem will be solved next year and the con can all be close together.

4. There were some awesome cosplayers, like the Mohawk Storm above, the Birds of Prey plus Power Girl, an awesome Ragdoll, and a Nightcrawler and Azazel combination , but in general, the con was light on the cosplaying. I’m not sure why. I’m wondering, however, if the short notice had something to do with attendance. It takes quite a bit of time and effort to put together an awesome costume.

4. There was very little to do for kids. My son is 15 and he’s attended cons before, so he entertained himself in Artists’ Alley on his own. But for little kids, there wasn’t much. Archie Comics had a booth and were selling a special con edition of Mega Man, which I purchased. My son got a sketch from his favorite writer/artist Mark Mariano, but he was one of the few artists with a specific focus on kids.

My conclusion? It had mostly everything I enjoy about the big New York Comic Con, without the insane crowds and the over-crowded panels.

But it could use some tweaks to be truly great.

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