I attended New York Comic Con this year as a wide eyed first-timer, with no idea what to expect. Turns out I had a blast! Read on to frolic in all the geeky goodness that is NYCC with me!
Whether or not you’ve ever attended NYCC, if you’ve ever lived in New York during the month of October you’ve probably seen the crazy costumes, the swords on the subway, and all the nerdy fun that spills out of the Javits Center into Manhattan. Fun little story: many years ago, when my dad, a native of rural Mississippi, moved to New York City, he arrived the week of Comic Con….but he didn’t know it was Comic Con. As he watched in wonder as Wonder Woman rode next to him on the city bus, and troops of Elves sprinted down 8th Avenue, he figured that this was just what New York City was like all of the time. I’ve always loved that story, because to me New York is that kind of magical place. (Actually, it is that kind of magical place, if you’ve ever read ELIXIR.)
I’d always wanted to go to Comic Con, but had never been able to get tickets (they sell out notoriously quickly) So I was thrilled when the good folks at Harper Voyager Impulse got me on a panel at NYCC with passes to attend the show.
NYCC can be completely overwhelming. It’s huge; over 180,000 people attended this year’s convention (and it seemed like all 180k of them were waiting in line for the women’s bathrooms!) As a crowd averse introvert, all that elbow jostling and noisy din could be exhausting. But luckily one of the perks of the record attendance was Comic Con has now taken over several neighboring venues outside the Javits. “Book Con” – a subset of NYCC focused on literary events – took place largely in the much quieter and more sedate Hudson Mercantile building, which was a lovely oasis from the pushing-shoving fray of the Con floor. (And since I geek out primarily over books, “Book Con” was really what I’d come for.)
One of my particular fears about my first Comic Con was that I’d be at a bit of a media culture disadvantage: I was raised without TV and movies until college, so I often don’t get pop cultural references, miss out on jokes, and feel a bit lost because I didn’t grow up with StarTrek, Buffy, Final Fantasy etc…
But my fears were allayed, because Comic Con has expanded from having its focus exclusively on comics, TV/movies/videogames and embracing SFF book culture with “Book Con.” And I can geek out about my favorite books with the best of them!
Also, with the proliferation of content in the 21st century, we’ve reached a point where it’s impossible to watch/play/fan everything. Everyone will feel left out in some conversations; everyone will see cosplay characters they don’t recognize, etc… because there are almost an infinite array of fandoms now, whether you’re a Game of Thrones person, a Jessica Jones person, a Walking Dead person etc… Thus it’s become a much easier entry point for someone who missed out on a lot of the “cannon.”
Part of the fun of Comic Con is all the cosplay, where people dress up as their favorite pop culture characters from TV shows, movies, video games, and even sometimes SciFi / Fantasy novels. Now this is not like kids getting dressed up for Halloween; many cos players get really into their craft and the level of professionalism, time/effort and dedication they put into their costumes is truly awe inspiring (and a little intimidating!)
A friend of ours is a cosplayer extraordinaire, who goes by the name Dangrrr Doll. I got to interview her, along with several of her friends in the cosplay scene, about how they got into cosplay, what it means to them, and what tips they have for doing NYCC. What really struck me about interviewing these veteran cosplayers was their genuine joy about what they do. I’d often wondered if cosplay at that level would be competitive or insular – or if cosplayers ever got sick of the crowds of gawkers asking them to pose for photographs etc… instead I found them all to be some of the most infectiously happy people to be around. As adults we rarely get to play – and cosplay, and comic con in general, gives us all permission to be giddy and exuberant and just love what we love. I think that’s what nerd culture is really about.
Check out my interviews with Dangrrr Doll and her cosplaying friends, including Stella Chuu (one of comic con’s most famous cosplayers!) They may have just inspired me to dress up myself next year…if only I could come up with a character that wears really comfortable shoes!
My First Time Speaking On A Panel
But the whole reason I was at NYCC was to speak on the panel “Myths, Fairy Tales and Legends: Reimagining Classic Stories” with Petra Mayer of NPR. This was my first time speaking on a panel, and I was super nervous. In the end, I could not have asked for a better first panelist experience! We got a great turnout – the room held 320 and it was packed! It warmed my heart that there are that many people out there who want to hear a discussion on the enduring power of fairy tales! The conversation was thoughtful and spirited. And if you weren’t at NYCC, you can get a taste of it below. This is the raw footage my husband shot at the panel; we’ll be posting a more polished version later, but it will still give you a taste of being there! Enjoy!