The Shifting Dynamics of New York Comic Con (NYCC 2012)

In a celebration of superheroes, sci-fi, fantasy and everything in between, New York Comic Con is truly a place to let your geek flag fly high. In fact, if you don’t, you’ll be in the significant minority. It’s an opportunity to share your love of Star Wars, zombies, or Star Wars zombies with thousands of other geeks. It’s a venue for you to gawk at and purchase expensive toys as an adult; and I don’t mean toys of the electronic or technological kind, I mean those same toys you wanted as a kid — action figures and giant robots. When one of the first things you see is Batman and a slew of his enemies all dancing in coordination to Naughty by Nature’s “Hip-Hop Hooray” on the Just Dance 4 stage, you realize you’ve just entered the wonderful land that is Comic Con.

One of the coolest parts is to see all the outlandish costumes people are wearing — or in some cases barely wearing. I’m looking at you sexy version of everything. Ask anyone in costume for a picture and before you finish the question they are posing in a still framed action sequence. It’s fun to just recognize all the different characters I grew up loving all walking around in the same building. From almost the entire male lineup of Street Fighter II to Captain America and some pin up girls and from The Toxic Avenger to Adventure Time, characters from every cultural realm are included.

The costumes, as well as the booths and panels, extend much further than just the characters in the big white bins full of old comics. The front of the show floor was dominated by the likes of Nintendo and other videogame entities. The former of which showcased their upcoming console, the Wii U. I had an opportunity to play a couple games, and I had a blast doing so. A multiplayer title like Nintendoland may not have the same level of strategy as say Goldeneye did on the N64, but if you have fond memories of playing videogames with others in the same room as you, screaming and laughing with each other, it looks like Nintendo’s plan to keep that alive will be successful. There were long lines to play demos of some other big titles coming out this fall; I was able to survive one only to get my ass handed to me in Microsoft’s heavyweight, Halo 4. But hey, I got a free poster.

There were also literary guests; I was able to catch the panel with Anne Rice, the true queen of vampire stories — not the blasphemous Stephanie Meyer. There mere mention of the possibility of a new vampire themed movie or TV show earned much screeching and applause. I know vampires are the old zombies, over saturated and over done, but I for one, would love to see either of these. One thing about Ms. Rice is that she knows what she likes and isn’t afraid to flaunt it. At one point the moderator brought up her series of erotic novels, The Sleeping Beauty trilogy, originally written under the pseudonym A.N. Roquelaure. The moderator asked what Ms. Rice thought about other people labeling it as pornography, and Ms. Rice’s blunt response to that was “Well, yeah, it’s porn!”. She then went on about how she wasn’t a fan of the majority of erotica, as it seemed too depressing to her. “It’s too dysfunctional. I just want to enjoy some S&M and then go home”. She has most recently tackled the subject of Werewolves with The Wolf Gift, an area she had yet to truly explore. The book has been met with mixed reviews, though still thought of highly by her most rabid of fans. She mentioned that in the future she really wants to start focusing her stories on ghosts, as she first touched upon in The Tale of the Body Thief, and later in Memnoch the Devil. While we were told at the beginning of the panel that Ms. Rice was feeling a little under the weather, you could hardly notice, as she was full of energy and a touchingly genuine love for her fans. Her attitude and enthusiasm must be what keeps her looking great, because she remains one truly classy, silver haired fox.

Even though The Walking Dead overshadowed all other TV shows, there were still a few that garnered fervent attention. One of those being Kevin Smith’s series entitled Comic Book Men. Airing on AMC, this unscripted show about comic book stores and fanboy culture will be commencing with its second season beginning this fall. It’s interesting to see this culture being given more of the spotlight, as it truly is what spawned this whole Comic Con hysteria. The fact is, the booths on the show room floor that had the least amount of hovering masses were the ones whose specialization was just in pure comics. I learned early on that if I wanted to get to one end of the convention hall quickly, my best shot was to head over to an aisle consisted mainly of those vendors with tables crammed with boxes of old comic books. Some of the comic artists were present but in their own special hangar far removed from the main attractions. If you wanted to see and interact with them you’d likely have to seek them out, as the size of the Javits made constant running back and forth exhausting. But it’s kind of sad to think about it, I don’t know how much attention they got, but I can’t claim to still collect or even read comics anymore.

My fanaticism, as with a large population of Con-goers, seems to have shifted almost exclusively to movies and TV; after all, the world of comics now comfortably resides within them. Maybe Comic Book Men will spark a new interest in getting back to the roots, or maybe it will just be a really fun show to watch. Either way, events like Comic Con seem like they will be around for the rest of time. I’m happy with that; I can’t wait till next year.

View a full gallery of high res images of attendees and more from New York Comic Con over at PopMatters’ Facebook page.