10/22/2010

“Smells Like Ham In Here”: New York Comic 2010 Part 1

by Matthew Hawkins

So, time at long last for my report! The New York Comic Con (plus Anime Fest) 2010; how was it? A definite mixed bag, both in expected and non-expected ways. As everyone know by now, the show was MASSIVE. A mind-blowing amount of folks from all corners of fandom made their presence be known, and as exciting as the spectacle was (sorry, but seeing throngs of dorks dressed like Marvel super heroes, Nintendo characters, or Vocaloids flooding 34th street simply warmed my heart), it was also supremely exhausting.

Despite the fact that the show did seriously encompass the entirety of Jacob Javits (with the exception of one small section downstairs), it was still densely packed. One of the best parts of any convention, especially something like the Comic Con, is to hang with friends and walk down the aisles together, to either gawk at the wacky stuff for sale or the even wackier cosplay. But none of that was possible due to the immense number of bodies littered about. Staying in groups due to heavy foot traffic was a futile exercise, though simply getting meeting up was the biggest hurdle. Pretty much everyone who had an iPhone was not able to make or receive calls or texts due to AT&T’s shitacular service, and the highlight of the weekend on that end would have been, when I finally found a spot that had coverage, my device immediately got 11 voicemails and 17 text messages all at once, which caused it to lock up. lol. Anyhow, I ended up missing a ton of folks, which I’m still miffed about (primarily Zack, especially since he had to skip out on SPX).

Believe it or not, despite the fact there was so much to look at, it was also damn near impossible to take pictures, due to once again the severe crowding. Asking someone to stop and pose always causes a bottleneck at such things, comes with the territory, but given how much worse it was this time, I mostly said fuck it. Hence why you’re not going to see as nearly as many costume shots as in blog posts past. Though the primary reason on that end is how I was also barely at the show; had to miss most of Friday due to work, plus the Babycastles Manhattan opening night party and the Swans show. And I came in super late on Saturday due to me spending most of the day finalizing my big presentation for later that evening. More on that later. Hence why I miss the totally hot looking chick dressed as Zero Suit Samus that Hilary spotted, nor the army of old-school V dudes that Matt caught. Another serious bummer.

As for the show itself: the big question going in was how the merging of the two stand-alone events, again the Comic Con and Anime Fest, would be handled. There were concerns that anime would be a second-class citizen, and sadly that was somewhat the case. Though it wasn’t at all a shock; one of the main reasons for the merger, at least I’m guessing, is due to how difficult (and expensive) it is to program that specific audience alone. Plus, let’s be honest here: I can’t think of any other form of entertainment in which there’s so much rampant piracy or in which the fanbase is as cheap. Hey, simply stating how it is, and speaking as someone refuses to buy the new Strike Witches American release cuz I’ve seen it already, ages ago, but mostly due to the ridiculously high asking price.

So the number of anime related panels and screening dwarfed in comparison to the American comics and cartoon counterparts (fun-fact: both my panels were technically part of the Anime Fest), but that didn’t matter since I’ve given up on such programming in general, due to all the hassles involved. A friend of mine apparently went through all this shit to get tickets for the Walking Dead presentation, then stood in line for like hours, and was still denied! Good God. And it took place in the biggest room Jacob Javits has!

What can be done? Not much I’m afraid… Limiting ticket sales is the most obvious answer, but the spectacle is pretty much the biggest draw. The real deal is how the convention center, despite it being pretty damn large, is simply not big enough. Hard to believe that the New York Comic Con might actually start to rival the San Diego one (okay, maybe that’s stretching things; it still has a ways to go), but this was the first year in which it definitely felt like it came to its own and is not some wannabe.

The show floor had everything a quality comic convention should have and more, but again, there was just so much that it was impossible to take it all in; there just comes a point in which you’re so overly stimulated that you kinda don’t care, and that weekend it happen far earlier that usual. Also not helping was how there was no real sense of organization. I tried all three days to find the MoCCA table at the artist ally, to hook up with Dave (Roman) & Raina, and never was able to find it. And there was a point on Saturday in which not a volunteer could be found, all totally frustrated and burnt out I would have to assume. Though back to anime being second-class citizens; its artist alley was not merged with the Comic Con one was, and instead was relegated to basement.

Which believe it or not was for the best; nothing emphasizes the difference in fanbase than their homebrew attempts at emulating what they love, to the point that it’s best to keep both camps separated. Last year’s artist alley at the Anime Fest simply blew my mind, due to all the ultra high quality work, and was worried how it would fare in the massive sea of amateur super hero fare (which not to be a hater, but has totally different standards, among other things). It’s a totally different vibe, so the end result was something that was more of a party downstairs, free of the desperate salesmanship that could be found upstairs.

Enough talk; time to share what little pics I have. For starters, here’s the start of the weekend, with myself, Hilary, and Katie. Note what a great mood I appear to be in! That would all change later that evening…

Alright, time to get down to business: cosplay pics. First Sonic & Tails…

For whatever reason, I saw more Luigis than Marios, and each one was kinda “different”…

I heard there was an ultra hottie Claire Redfield that I totally missed, though at least I got Rebecca Chambers…

It’s Astro Boy!

Everyone loves Nightcrawler, right?

Hey, it’s Ico…

Lots of folks were donning steampunk versions of various characters. I totally missed steampunk Boba Fett (here’s a pic I borrowed from 1UP), but at least I ran into steam punk Iron Man!

And here I am with black Travis Touchdown…

There were plenty of read deal folks as well (again, another aspect of it feeling like the most “legit” NYCC yet was the high number of out of towners, cartoonists I’d normally only see at MoCCA or SPX). Here’s Katie with Jen

I hung out with the Sweet Rot crew for a grand total of like five minutes as the show. Another big downer, especially since I haven’t seen Joe (Simko) in ages. Anyhow, him and his wife June just started a company! Here they are with John, the primary investor, right after I was told the fantastic news!

Again, hanging with folks was a bit of a pain. Though I did manage to spend some time with Marianne. Here she is in the anime artist alley, fake posing in for a picture while I sneak in a shot of Spawn about to busy some Evangelion doujin (or so I would like to believe)…

One big thing I totally love about these events is when someone tries to light the art world of fire with some new form or movement. Like this one set-up that advocates the use of legos as a serious form of sculpture (all their pieces were various women in poses of pain or disarray)…

Spotted at some random comic seller’s table; walk about an understatement…

Oh God, I almost pissed myself when I saw this; would have bought it on the spot if not for the fact that it’s A. its not available till early 2011, and B. will cost about $1,000…

Here’s a random Cool World standee that I stumbled across…

Spotted at the DC booth; I guess they’re using Superman (or Superboy to be more exact) to cash in on the Twilight craze?

These Iron Man statues were pretty hawt. My fave armor will always be the Silver Centurion one…

Though better than both of those is the evil Andros Stark from Earth-8912 (and no, I did not have to Google that info, I already knew it by heart)…

And this giant sized Iron Man is something I also seriously wanted to take home…

Plus this Doctor Doom statue is pretty damn badass if you ask me…

Moving onto games, Capcom’s Marvel vs Capcom 3 set-up was without a doubt the most popular…

Mega Man Universe was also heavily hyped…

And here’s the man himself, Keiji Inafune! There’s few folks I would stand in line for, let alone as for an autograph, but by the time I arrived I, the line had been cut off…

The two biggest heart attack (plus headache) inducers from Resident Evil 4 & 5…

It was impossible to get hands on time with almost any game, but I did managed to some time with Vanquish. Verdict? I liked it…

Oh, and the most annoying booth to many had to be Ubisoft’s, naturally. They were pushing their Michael Jackson dancing game like hardcore. Which in itself was not offensive, but the only song they seemed to play was Smooth Criminal. The folks who worked booths nearby wanted to blow their brains out by weekend’s end. Anyhow, here’s Gumby busting moves…

… With the best part being how, you could just tell by the body language that this person had simply had enough. But the overly aggressive Frag Girl had apparently forced the poor person on stage and kept on scream “COME ON! DANCE! DANCE! DANCE!!!”

Moving on, this set-up with Japanese-themed DS and PSP protectors was doing booming business! Had some really nice stuff too (I’m kicking myself for losing their card)…

A dog with a two tacos on a plate for a hat…

Everyone loves Miku, but I’ve always been more of a Luka fan myself…

Eggman!

Lightning from Final Fantasy 13…

This father and son combo was beyond cute…

Easily my favorite cosplay of the entire weekend, from Alan Wake!

And here’s Mallory professing her love for Katie, right before my big “The Best (And Worst) Games From Japan That You’ve Never Heard Of” presentation on Saturday night…

… A bunch of friends stopped on by to check it out, and attendance in general was packed the gill, with the estimated head-count hovering around the 250 mark (though I did promote the hell out of the thing, via the blog, Twitter, and Facebook). I had fears that no one would show up, due to my thing going head to head with both a Square Enix panel AND an Epic Mickey panel, featuring Warren Spector. Which one friend even blew off for my thing! Making what would happen even the more gut-wrenching…

I totally messed up big-time; I had completely forgotten the VGA adaptor to my MacBook Pro (which I had purchased only days prior, just for the thing). I swear to God, I never felt so embarrassed in my entire life. It’s not much of an excuse, but it has been one long and hard-ass week, and at that point my mind was completely spent. Though I did do one last check before heading out the door, to make sure I had everything handy for the evening, and believed the adaptor (which was the most important thing, next to the laptop of course) was accounted for. Oops. Some have argued that it’s the venue’s fault for not having one handy, but in their defense, Apple changes the video out on their hardware every two minutes. But yeah, that plus the epic failing of the iPhone the entire day leading up made me want to smash every bit of Apple hardware with a hammer like never before.

Best part was how for ages folks had asked me to have one of my presentations video taped, and there that night were two folks ready to do just that. The look of sorrow and embarrassment on their faces was the real cherry on top. Though the real kicker was how much of the aggravation leading up was due to folks dropping the ball on various things on various ends, and here I was, totally up shit’s creek with absolutely no one to blame myself.

When it was clear that my visual heavy presentation would not have any visuals, I had to make the announcement, and a bunch of folks immediately left their seats, but funny enough, it was only around 50 or so. So instead, I simply went on to show videos, directly from my Mac’s 13-inch screen, held up for the entire room to attempt too see. Which sorta worked? Though the real key to my success were Dave (Mauro) and Joe (Salina) who were by my side. The original plan was to play a video and have either of them pass along some factoid or witty quip, but they ended up providing much of the insight while I struggled on the technical end (another unforeseen problem was how I had assembled my Keynote in iWork 08 on my iMac. which didn’t play well with iWork 09, which was on the MBP… again, lol Apple).

In the end, everyone appeared to enjoy themselves, despite things not going at all according to plan. I still feel like I wasted a bunch of people’s time, but as it’s been pointed out, this shit happens to everyone sooner or later (and my track record up till that point had been spotless). Plus, one pleasant surprise that was somewhat consistent in the feedback was how many believe myself, Dave, and Joe have a good thing going on, which should be expanded, perhaps as a podcast? What do you folks think? I tried one with Mike a whiles back, as some might recall, and it was fun and all, provided you were super familiar with us and understood all our in jokes. Which unfortunately is a failing of most podcasts. This one would be just the facts, talking about obscure Japanese games, along with original footage, not just shit from YouTube! Which was one original plan for the presentation that had to be shelved due to resources.

I promised everyone in the crowd that I would post the list and links to the videos here, but I’m gonna have to take that back, and either save it for a video podcast, or take two of the same presentation at next year’s NYCC, provided the organizers decide to have me back. Given how I dun goofed, I wouldn’t be shocked if it was passed… So if you’re interested, please send your emails to Reed Exhibitions today!

Oh, and other pleasant surprise was the yaoi comic that Hilary and Mia drew during the thing, starring myself and Dave. Which I have scans of, but I’ll be sharing them a bit later. Sorry! In the meantime, check out this video Mallory did at the show…

Dubble Jump: Girl Talk at NYCC from Dubble Jump on Vimeo.

The very next morning was my How To Get A Jobs In Video Games panel, and compared to the train wreck that was the night prior’s, it went as smooth as silk. But then again, any “how to” presentation practically runs itself, especially when you have intelligent and eloquent professionals on stage, and I am quite proud of the folks I assumed that day! Lots of useful info was shared, to help some make those crucial first steps to a career in video games. With the only complaint being that it wasn’t long enough! There was a misprint in the book stating that we were on for two hours, and we could easily filled that much time, even more so.

Afterwards, with no real obligations to tend to, and with a slightly less massive walls of nerd to contend with (though make no mistake; the NYCC has never been that busy on a Sunday), it was back to taking cosplay pics. As noted before, lots of different varieties of Luigis could be found…

This Poison was definitely all woman!

Sunday is actually lolita day in NYC; you can find packs of them all over the city, like at Grand Central or Central Park. Obviously an animu fest is where they fit in the most…

And a bunch of dudes dressed up as the ladies of Project Touhou. Epic to say the least…

TO BE CONTINUED

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