Saturday, October 16, 2010

New York Comic-Con Recap: Part One

As we've been talking about for well over an entire week now, the Exfanding Crew made a limited engagement, one-day-only appearance at New York Comic-Con 2010.

Whether you've been eagerly awaiting the tales we have to tell, or you've been counting down the days until we start talking about baseball and obscure music again, the saga ends here.

Unless, of course, we see fit to talk about it again later.

Here's a surprise: Instead of doing our typical back-and-forth commentary (as we've done with Fanboys, Watchmen, Seven Samurai, etc.) we've seamlessly smashed together my recap and Alex's recap. See if you can tell the difference. (You totally can, by the way.)

-- -- -- --

For certain people, there's a time in the day that is close to sacred. Just before the sun comes up, usually around 5:00 AM or so, the world is peaceful and quiet and calm. Especially on a Saturday morning, a man could lose himself in the quiet, in the solitude, in the majesty of the mostly sleeping world around him.

A quiet so profound that he can hear the leaves falling from trees and the music of the birds chirping high above in the tree tops, the footsteps of the occassional deer running through the woods and the sound of two fanboys next door, fighting over a broadsword.

5:00 AM means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. For some, from Monday through Friday, 5:00 AM means it's time to wake up. For others, 5:00 AM means it's time to not be bothered by any living soul--on punishment of death--for at least another couple of hours before the start of the workday.

But on Saturdays, it's almost universally recognized that most everyone should be in bed, asleep and snoring, with visions of a day off, at 5:00 AM.

Unless, of course, there's a convention in town.

Such was the case last Saturday, as the Javits Center in New York City played host to the 2010 edition of the New York Comic-Con, a show that has become the second-largest comics gathering on the planet.

For the Exfanding crew--as you may have guessed--the day started early. I was up at 5:00 because I needed to pack a few more things before leaving--see my (mostly) empty bag, below, with a list of all the people and things I wanted to see and buy--and Nathaniel was up at 5:30. Which, if you know him, is monumental in and of itself.

When he showed up at my house at a quarter to seven, I probably should have called it quits and not pushed my luck any further. We should have gone to breakfast, and then back home.

But I didn't, and we didn't, and instead we piled into my car and set sail for NYC.

Well, almost. First we needed to stop for money and food--in that order. But then--oh, yes, then--we set sail. At 7:15. For a show that was to open its doors at 10:00. To a place about 45 minutes away.

Because I have visions of New York traffic that go back to my college days (and by "visions," I mean, "nightmares"), I always plan to leave two hours before I need to be anywhere in the city. And then I tack on an extra hour for good insanity. Um. I mean, measure.

For good measure.

As is the case with most delusions, though, my worries about a parking lot on the West Side Highway at 7:30 on a Saturday morning were all for naught, and we made it to the convention center sometime around 8:00. We parked, walked over to the Javits, got our lanyards and checked in, and we were then escorted to the end of a line of people somewhere underneath and outside the building.

As we passed the people we would soon be behind in line, I couldn't help but notice that there were only about a hundred of them. People in line, I mean. We were nearly at the begninning of the line--something that I've never managed to pull off at all the conventions I've attended.

"Huh," I said, without a hint of irony. "Maybe we could have left a little later."

Nathaniel--displaying the very same restraint that he showed when he finally acquiesced to leaving his broadsword at home only an hour earlier--said nothing. And we walked on.

Finally, we reached our spot in line, and oh, what a glorious spot it was! There was a wall and a pillar (and a pillar!) against which to lean, something that would come in handy during the next two hours of waiting.

After a little while of making polite small talk with people around us, Nathaniel buried himself in the convention guide and I stared blankly ahead. Exfanding friend Gary showed up a little while later, and then the three of us stood (well, leaned) and waited.

After about an hour and a half of this--think Disney World, but without the payoff of the ride at the end--Nathaniel sat on the floor, leaned against that (glorious) pillar, and closed his eyes. Which, apparently, was a flare signal for a con staffer to yell, "Okay, everyone, let's start moving!"

So we did.

We followed a nice lady who said we could get into the show a little early. She pulled us off the line--the one we were up at 5:00 to be on, mind you--and proceeded to walk us towards a huge theater. With chairs to sit in instead of pillars to lean on. Well, Nathaniel was sold.

Gary and I, however, were skeptical.

From past experiences at these things, I know that "nice" usually goes well with "doesn't have a clue" when it comes to convention staffers. They mean well, but ultimately, they don't really care if you miss your chance to see Boba Fett's brother-in-law.

"Ma'am?" I asked, all polite-like. "Just wanted to make sure--we can walk right into the show from here, correct?"


"Excellent--that's great. Thanks for this."

"No problem. And, hey, there won't even be a line at 11:00, so there's that, too."

"No, there sure won't be a--wait. What? The show opens at ten, not eleven."

And then, in a moment only a true dork could find some geeky pleasure in, her response was--and I'm not kidding--"But this panel goes to eleven."

If I knew what an emoticon was/how to use one, mine would have been a representation of a shocked face.

"But--uh. We were here so early. And up so early. And it was dark. And we disturbed the guy next door with the nature..."


"I mean--um. I don't--we don't--uh--we don't want to see whatever show is in there. (What show is in there, by the way?")

"Something about films and the essence of--"

"Yeah, we don't want to see that. Can we get back in line?"

" But if you just wait here, you can walk right in at 10:00."

"And cut the line?"

" You'll have to go on the queue."

"The queue?"

"The queue. For the show."

"'Queue'" is just British for 'line,' no?"

"I don't know, sir. But here, it's the thing that gets you into the show."

"Right, but, we were just on the line--uh, queue--right?"

"No, that was the preliminary line. The queue is downstairs."


And then I walked away, grabbed Gary and Nathaniel, and went searching for the mysterious downstairs queue. (Which, come to think of it, may have been the plot of an episode of Dr. Who last season.) Eventually, we found it. And, well, it was quite a queue.

We were herded--yep, herded--onto the downstairs floor of the Javits, in the same room in which the very first NYCC was held. So it was a big room. And there were barriers that kept us all in huge rows, and directed us to our final destination.

Like I said--herded. Just like cattle. After the herding, though, the waiting was over.

At last, we had reached the convention floor. Booth upon kiosk upon hut of geek swag. Walls of t-shirts. Sculptures, busts, models, and busty models--there were a lot of people in costume roaming the crowded pathways, including the ubiquitous Slave Leia, the ubiquitous Boba Fett, ubiquitous Stormtroopers, and the ubiquitous Wait, I Thought This Was A Comics Convention.

Indeed, this was more of a general dorkfest with an emphasis on comics than a true Comic-Con. That may be a point of annoyance for convention purists, but it ended up being an opportunity for different geeks to receive at least a passing exposure to one another's fandoms (which is what this blog is all about!). Take into consideration the New York Anime Festival, which shared the same space as Comic-Con this year, and you've got a geek mecca that appeals to a wide range of fans...and a wide range of wallets.

There were trade paperbacks at ridiculously low and discounted prices. ("How are these so cheap?" I asked one vendor selling 5 trades for $25. "We're in the Mafia," he responded. Then the convention cut to black.) There were Serenity posters, Star Trek action figures, and Star Wars photographs signed by all the cast members, selling for more money than actually exists on this planet. One place even sold stickers!

Compared to the one big line that was PAX East, Comic-Con was really just a huge shopping trip with friends.

And 100,000 other people. Still, the first few hours of NYCC 2010 were about as perfect as a convention could be. We were with friends, we were all digging different, awesome things, and we were having a blast.

The setup of the con floor was unique. Because the organizers had the entire Javits to play with (save for a section of the center that was under construction), they split the con(s) up. The main hall housed the main floor for the comic show--publishers and retailers mostly set up here.

In an adjoining room, they set up a giant Artist Alley, which featured an all-star lineup of the very best creators in comics. On another floor, the Anime convention and its Artists Alley were set up, and while I only passed through once by accident (I got a little turned around at one point in the show), the floor looked great.

When we walked into the main floor, the plan was to spend a good amount of time figuring out the lay of the land. But then I bought something, about five minutes after I walked onto the floor.

It was something stupid, useless, and it featured Batman, and I was happy and the (buying) ice was broken.

Things went nutty from there, and wallets went dry.

I was impressed at the amount of stuff that was on display--the range of fandoms was staggering. Actually, the very first thing I ran into was a table featuring portfolios filled with the amazing art of the late Michael Turner, who is truly one of my favorite artists.
The best part about getting to the show early on Saturday morning was that we beat the crowds. For a little while, at least, the aisles were open and spacious and wonderful, and one could walk around, look at things, and be comfortable.

That would all change after lunch, though, but we'll get to that in a bit.

-- -- -- --


A cliffhanger!

Come on back here tomorrow for Part Two--and, yes, there are only two parts to this. We promise. Plus, there's a surprise twist ending. (There's not.)

No comments: