Friday, September 23, 2011

Why Everyone Should Check Out the New York Comic Con (NYCC)

It's coming back! I can't wait!! The New York Comic Con will be back at the Jacob Javits Center this October from the 13th through the 16th! It's getting so that I can't feel it coming nearer...

Are you wondering WHY all of these people are on line at NYCC?
Typically, when talking about comic book conventions, in my experience, I have been faced with two starkly different reactions from those I am conversing with:
  • unbridled enthusiasm, or
  • confusion, with a hint of fear that I am one of "those kinds of people"
Now, having selected Mathematics as a major in college and following that up by becoming a high school math teacher, luckily, these are reactions that I am all too used to in conversations. I am never offended, I merely see them as an amazing opportunity to let you in on the secret joys of my subcultures that have gone long unappreciated by the masses.

I don't dare to propose that ComicCons are for everyone, however, before you dismiss them entirely based on some preconceived notions of what they "must" entail, I would like to give you a brief list of some of my joys of NYCC:

1. It is just about THE best spot in all of NYC for people-watching.
I was raised a people-watcher. Mom and Dad would bring us to Central Park (another fabulous people-watching spot!) and after hours a having fun in the sun, we would park ourselves on a bench and watch the people go by. There were always so many different kinds of people doing so many different things! I'd think up stories about each person's day and life. The whole thing amazed me!
The Joes +1.
It still does, and ComicCon has INCREDIBLE people - authors, artists, fans of multiple subcultures (comics, specific movies, TV shows, games), people of the press, celebrities at multiple levels, and then (mostly on Sunday) lots of comic-loving families with their kids for family day.
The thing that makes this possibly the "BEST" spot for people-watching is that at the Con people show-off their uniqueness, their fandom and their super-fun inner child with unabashed pride! It is rare to see so many people, who lead otherwise very normal day-to-day lives, come together and just geek-out about whatever it is they love in such a mass effort.
2. Conventions Are A Great Place to Learn.
I think everyone knows this when it comes to conventions surrounding a particular profession or skill, but I feel like it is not something people think about in terms of the ComicCon. Ordinarily, when people think about the ComicCon, they think of crowds of people (they are there), many of which are dressed up in costume (this is very true) walking around an exhibit floor looking at and buying comic books, memorabilia, getting autographs and the such - this is all a part of the experience, however, it is not all of the experience.
One of last year's panels with a line of questions from the audience.
The first time I went to a Comic Con, I didn't realize this and I missed out on all of the PANELS and DISCUSSIONS. Once I discovered them, I never made that mistake again. The Panels are now how I design my entire experience. They vary from fan fun stuff like (thinking back to last year's event) James Marsters telling a packed room of fans what he's up to and answering all their questions (as wacky as they got!), to industry stuff like discussing how digital publishing will impact comics and what publishers, authors, artists and fans are saying about it, to how to bring Graphic Novels and Comic books into the classrooms as tools. There is so, so much going on in the panels and every year I fill a notebook with my nerdiness notes!
3. You get SO MUCH FREE STUFF.
The swag at NYCC can become overwhelming. I have almost excatly the same experience every single year. I walk in people are handing me cool pins, stickers, t-shirts and books and, in my glee I grab it all... hours later I am bogged down wondering, "What the heck am I carrying around?"
However, when night night falls and we get home, it is a combination of that post trick-or-treating and Christmas morning feeling all swirled into one! My husband and I spill out our bags and compare. "Ooo! Where did you get that? I didn't get that!" or "Cool! Look they gave me TWO!" Piles are made - mine, his, stuff to bring in to the students, and stuff to throw in with this year's candy for our trick or treaters!
In addition to the free stuff are TONS of coupons and discount codes for all types of convention deals on ALL TYPES of cool stuff.There are internet promo codes, pre-sales and exclusive offers (i.e. last year there was a special, and very competitive, ComicCon price for the SpiderMan Turn Off the Dark Broadway Show) slipped in among the swag. I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for these this year, because I always end up looking at them last and end up missing out on some of the dated offers - such a bummer!
This was my favorite costume last year.
I thought he was a prop until he MOVED!
This is a costumed person!!

4. It's Just Plain Old-Fashioned Fun!
There is a happy excitement in the air at Comic Con. People don't take themselves as seriously when they are in that space - they're dressed up, perhaps painted blue, or walking on stilts, or sitting in a quiet corner dressed up like a bizarre space octopus scaring THE CRAP out of whoever walks by thinking you are a giant stuffed animal.
People are smiling.
You get to bear witness as fans meet their idols, shake their hands, take pictures with them and thank them for giving them joy.
People of all ages are playing - not just video games (although they are there, too), but jousting, having light saber battles and this year there will be wand duels and a Quidditch team is coming!
There is art everywhere - drawings, paintings, the written word, and now there's more video and graphics, too. Sunday is extra fun because it is family day and there are loads of family-friendly and kids' activities planned! It is just plain awesome.
After writing this post, it has come to my attention that I may be a biased in my perspective, however, let me tell you this: I only went to my first comic book convention out of love for a boy. I had no idea what I was getting into and thought this was going to be one of those things he was going "owe me" for. In other words, I was once the person who was confused by possible enjoyment "those people" had at comic book conventions. I didn't know. I hadn't tried it out. Now that I have, I love it. So maybe it's something you should check out - at least once - even if it's just to say that you have. I say put this on your bucket list and let me know when you're coming!

What are your thoughts about NYCC?
Have you been to any other comic book conventions?
What type of geek-out convention would you like to see and be a part of?

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