New York Comic Con has come and gone and it's taken me this long to even digest it all. Sorry for the delay in recapping, but you can hear all about it in the recent episode 299 of my podcast, COMIC NEWS INSIDER.
NYCC started early on in the week for me, so I'll go day by day to give you a nice chronological timeline. I'm cool like dat.
Wednesday, October 6th:The previous evening, good friends Emma Vieceli and Andrew Ruddick, arrived a bit jetlagged but still ventured up to the CNI studios to record episode 298 with us. I had mentioned meeting up with them on this evening as well as many other friends were arriving from all over. First up, Rich & Iz, arrived earlier in the day and came by the bar to have dinner. Near the end of the evening, some other friends arrived. Emma & Andrew arrived after good pal Ben Templesmith arrived with a crew including another friend, Andie Tong. Folks from Dark Horse & IDW were part of the posse. I shuffled them all out at closing and was able to hang elsewhere and drink myself. Nice and chill evening with good friends and new contacts. Sort of a calm before the storm, if you will.
Thursday, October 7th: The official pre-convention day. CBLDF had their big fundraiser party at a bar in midtown. Unfortunately, the bar is very narrow so it was tough to gather and talk with those you wanted. Mad props to CBLDF though. I'm a member and big supporter. Everyone in the comic biz showed up and it was nice to see many who had just arrived in town that day. Good buddy Matt from Australia and I were hanging (that's him up there with friend/amazing cartoonist Molly Crabapple) along with many others. I was catching up with one of my best pals, Paul Pope, and we decided to go to a nearby bar. I mentioned it to a few and soon enough, the bar we migrated to became the spill over for the crowded CBLDF party. The likes of Miss Crabapple, John Higgins, Tony Lee, Marc Bernardin, Templesmith, Ben McCool, Heidi MacDonald, Laura, Jon and others joined in the drinking fray. Marc introduced me to Javier Grillo-Marxuach whom I had interviewed via phone for my podcast a couple of years back. He promised to swing by our table in the Podcast Arena over the weekend. Another great evening of friends, drinks and nerdy talk.
Friday, October 8th: First day of NYCC! The doors opened at 10am and my co-host, Joe Gonzalez, was there bright and early setting up and sorting things out for Podcast Arena. He plays point person each year for the other podcasters and helps to put together the Arena. While we like that NYCC gives us our own area (not for free, mind), this year it was a bit off. Normally, there are about 8-10 different shows in a row facing each other. Making an...Arena! This year, they had us back to back which really left me feeling disconnected from the other shows. Great to see friends like Comic Geek Speak and Indie Spinner Rack. And mad props to new podcast in the arena, Masters of None, for being so helpful to us during the raffles. Joe did an awesome job putting our booth together. We debuted our new banner with new logo design by Ben Templesmith! Pretty spiffy, eh? Thanks, Benny boy!
I didn't arrive til about 11:30am. The show floor was open to exhibitors, pros and press from 10am-1pm. I did a quick walkabout to say hi and gather donations for our annual charity raffle. The raffle this year was in conjunction with Citta and The Project Solution and helped raised funds to build a library for a school in India. The Podcast Arena was in the large room separated to the left with other small press, the stage, artist alley in the back, etc. The main floor was in the middle and took up most of the rest of the Javits Center and the Anime Fest along with panels was downstairs. Some construction going on in the middle so things felt a bit disconnected. Perhaps when it's all done, the show will be in one big room. At least, that's the hope.
We had many people signing with us all weekend as well. Our scheduling of signings and the raffle sort of overlapped. Massive apologies to some of the people whose time we ate into. We'll plan it better next year for sure. Still, it was for a great cause and we raised a decent amount of money.
Upon my arrival, I went to get a press pass as well and heard someone call my name. It was Blair Butler from G4TV. As loyal listeners of our podcast know, Blair used to be a semi-regular on the show until she got all fancy and famous. We miss her but totally understand and are way proud of her. We chatted for a minute and it was back to the table for the opening of the show.
Signings for the day were Monica Gallagher, Andie Tong, Nikki Cook, Emma Vieceli, Molly Crabapple and Kevin Conn (aka Lava-Roid). We had some great booth helpers all weekend in friends Mandy Walker, Carrie Tucker, Kristin G, and Nick Lowe. Mandy (in the "Frak Off" tee that I gave her to wear a few pics up) was hilarious. She's from the hills of North Carolina and thought all of this geeky stuff was funny. Then, she opens up the program and sees an ad for World of Warcraft and says, "My ex-boyfriend and I used to play this all of the time!" A few of us heard her and stopped. I said, "That's nerdier than all of this combined!" She tried to protest but didn't help when she named her class and level. Haha. There's a little nerd in all of us!
I got to see my friends perform on stage a bit later as well. The Vampire Cowboys Theater Company always puts on great fights for Comic Con as they use a heavy dose of stage combat in their shows. There was a great Star Trek vs Star Wars fight that went over quite well. If you live in NYC and haven't seen one of their shows, do yourself a favor and do it!
The day ends at 7pm and it's off home for the usual disco nap. I finally head out around 11pm and catch some friends at the end of the Geek Girl Network party. I grabbed Adam Withers and Comfort Love to come hang with Rich, Iz and Flint. I know people make fun that I name drop a lot at conventions (is it name dropping when they are actually your friends?) or seem to only want to hang out with my friends who are successful or well known....not true. One of my best nights out was with this crew. I hadn't met Flint before and he's just as much of a bastard as me and Rich, so the 3 of us pounded beers back and tried to offend each other as much as we could. (See below). And that lasted til almost 4am.
Saturday, October 9th: Another late start to the day. I get there right around 12pm at the start of the first raffle. On my way in, I got some bad news from my sister. My 2 1/2 year old nephew, Maximus, had gotten bitten by a spider. His leg was swollen and he had a fever. The doctor suggested taking him to the ER. Needless to say, my whole day was a bit unfocused as I was only thinking of my nephew. Apologies to all I talked to if I seem out of it or cranky. It didn't help that phone service within the Javits center was spotty at best. I didn't hear back from my sister until 6pm. For the record, Max is okay but had a fever for days. I was just hoping he'd get super powers out of it.
The day was sold out and it showed. It was congested in many places and quite busy. They didn't seem to have a handle on the entrances either. Growing pains and all that. Still, we had a very busy day at the booth. Molly, Emma and Kevin did signings again. We were also joined by Greg Pak (pictured above), Kevin Colden and Tony Lee. Throughout the weekend, we got a few interviews as well. It was very noisy and being close to the stage didn't help. You'd think the powers that be would not put us so close to a huge stage with loud speakers since we're all recording. I mean, they have a sign for us that clearly says "Podcast Arena" so they know what we do. Just saying.
Show closes and back home for the disco nap. Got to the MTV bash for a bit and hung with some friends like Iz and Templesmith up there. Got a text from my friend Brea Grant who was at the Marvel party, so I bounced off over there. And that's when things got crazy! In a good way. You may know Brea as "Daphne" on Heroes and she is also an accomplished comic book writer. She and her brother Zane wrote a comic book called We Will Bury You (art by Kyle Strahm) that came out from IDW earlier in the year. I get to the party and it's popping! I see quite a few Marvel friends like CB Cebulski and Jen Grunwald along with folks I've met like Joe Quesada and Jeph Loeb. Brea introduces me to her friend Scott Porter whom I immediately recognize. Yep, "Jason Street" from Friday Night Lights! Nicest guy and generous with the whiskey shots.
At one point, Scott compliments my tie. It's got Poe's "The Raven" written on it along with a picture of a raven. As we chat, I tell them of a time I did a really bad musical based on Poe's life. Scott and Brea look at each and back at me. Scott says, "We're doing karaoke!" CB tells us there is a private room in the back where we can do it and we're off! Everyone joins us in there and Scott kicked ass acting as karaoke MC. Damn good singer too. We all got up on the mic and Scott and I rocked out to "Jump Around" by House of Pain. We're gangsta. Just check out the pic above.
Great time and Marvel knows how to throw a bash! Just check out myself, Brea and Ben McCool above and good pal Zena Tsarfin's reaction in the pic below! Off to breakfast with Brea, Scott, Temps and others. It's going to be a loooooooong Sunday as I rolled into my apartment around 6am.
Sunday, October 10th: Oh yeah. 3 1/2 hours of sleep. I rolled into the show a little after 12. Shorter day as the hall closes at 5. I wish they'd at least keep it running til 6 on Sundays since the day seems to rush by so quickly. It's kids day and they were out in droves. Parents, pay attention. I know it's a comic convention and it's sensory overload for your kids. But that doesn't mean let them run up to every table and just start grabbing shit off of it. We had a ton of expensive stuff on our table for the raffle and had to stop a couple of kids from just outright taking them. Not everything is free on a table!
Very relaxed day. Signing again with us were Emma, Nikki and Kevin. Brea came by at 2 for a solo signing and was joined by her brother Zane and artist Kyle Strahm after 3. I did get to walk around a bit near the end of the show. Had a chat with many friends at their tables like the adorable Tory Woollcott, Temps, VCT crew, Chris Staros at Top Shelf, Alan at IDW, Fletch at DC, However, I never took the time to walk the whole floor. While we love having a booth and doing all of the signings, raffle, etc...it does sort of anchor us there a lot. We have helpers and stuff but people often come by specifically to meet Joe and I. I'll have to try to get there earlier some day. Like that'll happen.
5pm rolls around and it's time to pack things up. Some people run around to say bye and I still didn't get to see everyone. During my walk about, I reminded some folks about the last minute Dead Dog party I was throwing. Traditionally, a Dead Dog party is just for pros, some press and friends. No business discussed. No fans. Just a nice relaxing gathering so you can decompress from the convention. I had planned a small one with friends like Templesmith, Brea, Heidi, McCool and some others at a bar I knew. Figured it might be about 10 of us or so. With that in mind, I headed off home to chill and change before heading down.
I get there around 8pm and Temps and friends had arrived. Thought it would be just a few of us. Then suddenly, over the next hour, the crowd just rolled in. I was quite pleased with the turnout as it was unexpected for such a last minute idea. If you've gotten this far, then you wont be surprised by the name dropping coming. Here are some of the attendees: Ben Templesmith, Ben McCool, Heidi MacDonald, Brea Grant, Zane Grant, Pia Guerra, Fabio Moon, Gabriel Ba, Rafael Kayanan, Nikki Cook, Kevin Maguire, Andie Tong, Laura Hudson, Tony Lee and many others. Over 50 people showed and it was the perfect ending to the convention. A bit of food, some drinks and great conversations.
As for NYCC itself. I had a blast. Sure there were some logistic problems at the show, I didn't get to see much and some disorganization but seeing friends that I only see at conventions is always a plus. Hanging with friends really made the convention for me. Apparently, the show had an attendance total between 90-100K! Not too shabby. It's only going to get bigger!