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NYCC 2008: One Note Samba – Thoughts on This Year’s Con

by on April 22, 2008

The third annual New York Comic Con has come and gone, so before it gets too far in the past, I figured I’d share the random thoughts that bounced around my brain during the weekend. Why? We’re the media. We can do things like this.

Everything in here is worth exactly what you paid for it, unless you pay for your Internet access, in which case it’s worth significantly less.

NYCC Con Floor– Most of the bad karma of the first year’s horrible overcrowding situation seems to have been expunged, partially because I think fans are expecting massive, crushing crowds on Saturday, partially because the con floor was so much bigger this year, and partially because the staff are a lot more experienced in crowd management.

– The much bigger con floor meant I saw a lot more dealers than I remember seeing in past years. I just wish I had more time and money to buy things.

– I didn’t do the One Minute Interviews this year (here’s the 2006 and 2007 editions) partially because I was in panels until late on Sunday, partially because half the people who were subjects in prior years weren’t at this year’s con, and partially because the floor was so big that the idea of criss-crossing it to talk to people for a minute wasn’t something I had the energy for.

– Also, I couldn’t come up with a good, not-stupid third question, and “The 30-second Interview” doesn’t sound as good.

– The existence of New York Anime Fest is why a lot of those One Minute Interview subjects weren’t there. On the one hand, it probably did alleviate some of the crowding, and it meant this con could be more focused on comics. On the other hand, I kind of liked the mashup that put American comic book fans and manga/anime fans under the same roof, and I can’t help but feel that something’s been lost by not doing that. There are manga/anime fans at Comic Con, but there’s comic book fans that could afford to add some more manga and anime to their diets.

– (Henchman 21 Voice) DAMN YOU, REED EXHIBITIONS! By SPLITTING into Comic Con and Anime Fest, you’ve RUINED my CONTINUITY NOW!!!(/Henchman 21 Voice)

– In the same con, even just focusing on animation, I covered the latest kids’ shows from Nickelodeon, the latest anime (though not as much as I’d like), and the latest from the likes of Ralph Bakshi and Bill Plympton. Something comparable happens with the comics panels. I love the breadth that both media can encompass, and the growing public acknowledgment of that breadth.

– I’d like to apologize to Mark Evanier and J.J. Sedelmeier for not having a writeup of their entertaining “State of the Animation Industry” panel. Mostly, I walked in late, my recorder didn’t get anything, and it was the first panel of the day so my notes are complete crap. The most I have is that “The Simpsons is about to be the most profitable entertainment thing ever,” “It’s nice to have cartoons that don’t all look the same nowadays,” and “Doing anime on the cheap isn’t any better than doing cartoons on the cheap.” I remember the panel was a lot more interesting than that, though.

– I have no idea what the title of this article means, other than that I like Antonio Carlos Jobim. This is what I called the file when I started writing on the train ride home on Sunday night. I’m sure it made sense at the time, and I can’t think of a better one.

Megan Casey and Grant Morrison– Right before The Mighty B! panel, I saw Nickelodeon employee Megan Casey talking with Grant Morrison (right — Morrison would be the bald one), and decided that someone really needs to give Grant Morrison a kids’ cartoon.

– Despite having small armies of reporters, none of the major comics or pop culture news sites seem to cover the Black Panel, meaning they miss things like Black Panther cartoon information or the existence of the Ormes Society. I’m sure there’s a very good reason why this happens, just like I’m sure there’s a very good reason why this year’s Black Panel was shunted off to the last panel slot on Friday night.

– Covering the Black Panel at NYCC is worth it for Michael Davis alone. He’s a riot, and also has a lot of interesting things to say between the clowning.

– Can we get name tags at the panels back? They were there in past years (even if they were hard to read from a distance), but they seemed to have vanished entirely this year. I’d settle for a stack of 8.5×11 paper with fat Sharpies and scotch-tape in every panel room so attendees can make them themselves.

– There were a LOT of panels that started very, very late because of endemic audio-visual problems or NARFT (“No Apparent Reason For That”). This problem seemed to be a LOT worse than prior years, and I wonder how much of that contributed to the overcrowding that hit late on Saturday.

– I was glad for these delays on at least one occasion, since it meant I could interview the Avatar co-creators and still attend the Venture Bros. panel.

– I could go from a panel about Avatar to a panel about The Venture Bros. There’s another example of that breadth right there.

– I forgive Doc Hammer for saying that an Avatar DVD “looked unwatchable” when he offered it as a prize against a DVD of The Seeker, but only because the Venture Bros. panel was still so entertaining (even if it wasn’t quite as off the wall as last year’s).

– After lugging around the “one man press room” backpack all weekend (MacBook Pro, power adapter, Nikon DSLR with flash, spare batteries, presskits, schedule, con guide, notebook, pens and Sharpie, headphones, iPod recorder, snacks, water, umbrella, and business cards), the MacBook Air suddenly looks a lot more appealing. Unfortunately, the lack of a replaceable battery means I think it would also run out of juice somewhere on Saturday afternoon.

– The existence of Soul Fixins on 34th St. between 8th and 9th Aves is strong anecdotal evidence of a benevolent creator who loves us and wants us to be happy. The fact that it’s not about a block or two closer to the Javits Center is strong anecdotal evidence that this creator doesn’t want us to be TOO happy.

Can I get a hug?– On at least two panels I attended, someone asked “Can I get a hug?” during the audience Q&A section. This is a little cute and a little creepy, but it’s more creepy than cute. It’s also a no-win situation for the person who gets asked this, because you can look like an insensitive jerk by saying, “No,” or you could say “Yes” and encourage stalkerish fantasies (or, at the very least, suffer from wayward hands).

– I take that back a little. A man (let alone one dressed in a strange costume) would never ask someone like Eva Mendes, “Can I get a hug?” If they did, it would be entirely OK for her to respond, “What are you, on drugs?” The rules are different for men and women. This is not meant as a value judgment, just a statement of fact.

– Both William Moseley and Michael Sinterniklaas were cooler than they needed to be by giving a hug to a total stranger.

– I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s a little intimidated at how the massive Newsarama machine dominates an event like this (see #31).

– People are beginning to know who I am when I introduce myself at these cons. This is cool and a little freaky.

– It seems to be an unspoken truth that “comics” has become a general term for a broader strain of pop culture. The Andromeda Strain and the latest Harold and Kumar movie really have nothing to do with comics, after all. However, after years of having “comic-book” being used as a pejorative term meaning “juvenile,” I wonder if this is actual progress or just the same thing with less of a derogatory tone because we make money for people.

– Despite wanting to get in to cover the Clone Wars cartoon and Robot Chicken stuff, I bagged the Star Wars/Indiana Jones panel because I was told, alternately, that press had to get in the massive line with everyone else, or that there was a separate line for press but nobody knew where it was.

– I regret the missed opportunity to do a massive Slave Girl Leia photoshoot with the 8-12 Slave Girl Leias right outside the IGN theater before the Star Wars panel. There was also a chance to get a shot of about a half-dozen Triana Orpheuses at the Venture Bros. panel. There were at least two of every single character who has ever been on Avatar at that panel. Someone was probably there as the Cabbage Guy.

– Come to think of it, the Slave Girl Leias seemed to have a separate line to get into the Star Wars panel. Conclusion: I need to dress up as Slave Girl Leia to get into panels a few minutes early to set up to cover them.

– Reed Exhibitions: you really don’t want me to dress up as Slave Girl Leia. There ought to be consistent rules on how press gets into things, and the staff and the volunteers really need to know what they are.

– This is a pretty minor complaint for what must be a colossal logistical nightmare, and the staff and the volunteers at the con don’t get enough public thanks for what they do. So a big thanks to all the staff and volunteers who were cranking at full steam all weekend to make this con as successful as it was.

Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane #1One of many Triana Orpheus cosplayers– Speaking of costumes, I saw two different Lois Lane cosplayers this year (left for one, and on the roundup article for another). I don’t think I’ve EVER seen a Lois Lane cosplayer before, even though it’s as simple as being a brunette in a suit with a Daily Planet badge that says, “Lois Lane” on it. I think the rise of Lois as a cosplay subject might mean something, though I’m not sure what.

– Maybe I wasn’t paying attention because who notices a brunette in a suit with a Daily Planet badge at a comic convention? Strike that…there’s about 2 or 3 things in there that would be noticeable at a comic convention.

– Is there a masculine version of “brunette?” “Brunet?” “Bruner?” I mean, there’s “blond” and “blonde.” I guess redheads are out of luck there, too.

– I’d also like to thank the many people whose picture I took over the weekend (Seen the Flickr gallery? Huh? Huh? Go pump up my ego by boosting my hit counts!), especially when I was that One More Guy Who Wants Another !#$% Picture. Special shout out to Morgan and Krys (right), who visit Toon Zone, had two awesome Enchanted costumes, and also remembered me from last year.

– Slave Girl Leia.

– No matter how long, grueling, crowded, or crazy it was a the con, the fundamental truth remains that I was there to write about cartoons and movies and occasionally comic books. It’s still a blast to cover.

See you all next year.

(Return to Toon Zone’s New York Comic Con 2008 Complete Coverage)

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