My Day at New York Comic Con 2011

Hey folks.

Back from my day at New York Comic-Con. Got up yesterday at 5:00 am, got home at a little after 1:00 am. I used my own car, two trains, a cab and a bus to get there and back. We waited in line for about three hours out of the day, sat through numerous panels we didn’t care anything about, but at the end of the day, I got to get Stan Lee’s autograph, I saw unseen footage from the upcoming “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance”, presented by directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, got to see an awesome scene from season two of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” presented by the cast, and got to see an entire scene from next year’s “The Avengers”, a full 6 months before it gets released.

New York Comic-Con is open to the public for three days, but I’ve been twice and each time I’ve only attended for one day. I actually have a three day pass right now, and could be hoofing it down there again right now, but I just don’t have it in me.

See? The thing is, as fun as the floor is, and as cool as it is to see all the vendors and video games and booth babes and people in costumes and stuff, Comic-Cons are pretty demanding. There’s travel, there’s waiting in lines for everything (including going to the bathroom), you’re getting jostled about all day, walking on the concrete floors… You can bring your own food, but you’re just as liking to wind up squatting up against a wall to eat as you are to find a seat at a table. It just winds up being a demanding day. So if you’re not really driven to do it (read: Like me right now), it’s easy to decide to take a pass.

You see? To me, the big thing about these conventions is the opportunity to potentially meet actors and actresses in person, get some autographs, see some big names live (The list of stars and directors I’ve seen at panels now is getting quite formidable :D), and get a sneak peak and/or behind the scenes looks at upcoming films or television shows. NYCC had a nice slate of that yesterday, and we definitely got the most out of it. But today… not so much. And so I’ll stay at home.

Yesterday though, my buddy Nelson and I packed up and got on the road early. We drove an hour down to Fairfield,CT, hopped on a Metro North to Grand Central, got a cab to the Javits Center, and waited in line for the floor to open up.

Here’s where the inevitable comparisons to San Diego begin for me. I spent the entire day yesterday (well, pretty much, like 90%) in an underground bunker I was referring to alternately as “The Fallout Shelter” and “The Tomb”. I had no cell phone service, and they can bite me if they expect I’ll pay them for a WiFi connection. Compare the views below from two different lines I stood in this year. One from NYCC and one from SDCC. You tell me if you can guess which is which.

Take all the time you need.

Now, it’s not New York’s fault that the weather isn’t as nice, so that you have to be indoors the whole time, or that the convention center they’re hosted in isn’t beautifully situated on a Harbor. But still, when you’ve gone to both, and the question you get asked all day long once people KNOW you’ve been to both is how do the two compare? And when you spend a good portion of the day standing in line in a converted loading dock, when you clearly can recall watching a helicopter land on a yacht while standing in line just months earlier at SDCC? Well, unfavorable comparisons are inevitable.

Still, New York Comic-Con does draw out the cosplayers. LOTS of “dressed up” people turn out, so, just like San Diego, you can catch a random superhero walking by at any moment, or some half-dressed anime babe, or… goofy things that make you think, WTF is that? It’s great, it really is. Now, I would probably have to say honestly that San Diego has more really, really high end cosplay, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not great walking around and seeing all of the great costumes at NYCC. I mean, it just never gets old, seeing people dressed up as if it were a superhero and/or pop culture themed Halloween party.

Unfortunately, this year, we didn’t get to see much of that. Once we got in, we raced straight to Artist’s Alley, where the autographing takes place. We’ve been around the block here, we know the drill. We wanted to see (like actually see, not that “Online Schedule” crap that’s often incomplete and/or incorrect) who was there and when. And the first thing we saw was a ticket booth for Stan Lee’s autograph. (For those of you who don’t know who Stan Lee is, shame on you. Don’t expect me to address your pop culture failings here, you heathen! Go to Wikipedia!)  Well, Nelson and I both practically shoved people out of the way to get in line. We barely consulted with each other on it before deciding that this was priority number one for each of us. So we purchased our tickets and headed downstairs for the signing, which started in 20 minutes.

Well, was supposed to start in 20 minutes.

Firstly, Stan was late by at least 20 minutes. Afterwards, he had to sign for VIP Package holders first (tickets upward of $400), so all in all, we were in line for more than two hours if you start the countdown at the moment we got in line for the ticket (once you got the ticket you had to go to another line). I wouldn’t have complained though, in the least. I’m no newbie to this, a two hour line isn’t a shocker. Nor is it time wasted if the reward at the end of the rainbow is Stan Lee’s autograph.

Except, I have to call it like I see it. I know Stan is uber famous and all, and he’s… elderly now, but damn. That was the most impersonal thing I’ve ever seen. The man wasn’t even looking up. He was power signing autographs – which you couldn’t get personalized (so in other words, no “To Dan” on it), and whipping them out like he was a poker dealer at a casino. Whit, whit, whit, whit, whit… He also had two tables between him and the fans, so your hope of shaking his hand was quashed.

I mean, I understand a lot of it, I’m sure if he started talking to people he’d get all kinds of crazy bs and never be able to keep it manageable. It also lets a lot of fans get the signature they’ve always coveted on their comic. To say the line was moving (once it started) was an understatement. But, man, he didn’t even look up when I said it was an honor… just kept power signing and said “Thank You”.

Whatever. It’ll still look great on my wall of autographs.

So, after that, we were off to the panels. We woofed down some ham sandwiches I brought and got right in line for the “IGN Theater”. There was no WAY we were going to let ourselves be shut out of “The Avengers” panel. Uh uh. So we got right in (Getting there at 1:00 when the good panels don’t really start until 4:00 or so is a pretty surefire way to get good seats for a 7:00 panel!). It meant we basically never even hit the floor this year, and I missed the chance to get Mark Hamill’s autograph, but some sacrifices have to be made if you want to be sure you get in to these things.

Unfortunately, this is where New York Comic Con’s big shortcoming really showed up. Eventually we got to see a lot of good stuff. Panels for “The Walking Dead” and “The Avengers” and a Sony panel featuring Neveldine and Taylor presenting footage from “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance”, the new trailer for “Underworld Awakening” and footage (impressive footage actually) of next year’s “Total Recall” remake starring Colin Farrell.

But along the way, they killed filled an hour showing us Thursday night’s episode of “Person of Interest”, without anyone there presenting from the show. They had a sneak peek of the upcoming animated Graham Chapman autobiography “A Liar’s Autobiography: The True Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman” hosted by Lloyd Kaufman from Troma Studios, and a panel for the CW’s “Nikita”.

This was the biggest day at New York Comic-Con, and I was in the biggest room. THAT’S the undercard? It’s more than a little lackluster.

Regardless, once the major panels began, things really took off. The “Total Recall” footage was both unexpected AND unexpectedly decent. Neveldine and Taylor were extremely entertaining, and surprisingly, have me pretty excited for this “Ghost Rider” flick. They sound like they really tried to make it bad ass, and the footage they showed was really pretty good.

“The Walking Dead” panel was incredible. Just one of the best panels I’ve ever been to. The energy from the crowd was fantastic, they showed off a really really really awesome scene (even though it will probably air in tonight’s premiere), Robert Kirkman was there, and the cast (which represented well in terms of attendance) was in great spirits. I didn’t video it, but if anyone is really interested, drop me a comment, and I may be “convinced” to do an extended blurb on that panel and/or Ghost Rider.

And of course, the night culminated with “The Avengers” panel. It was flat out awesome. The cast was well represented… I mean, they certainly didn’t have everyone, but having Mark Ruffalo (the Hulk), Chris Evans (Captain America), Coby Smulders (Agent Maria Hill), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), and Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson) is not too shabby. Not too shabby at ALL.

I’ll be posting a full video and write-up of the panel later today, it’s uploading to You Tube now as we speak. But if anyone can’t wait, you can pick and choose off of my YouTube channel right now, and here’s a little taste. This clip came out a little short, but it’s a great snippet of them recalling a night that the cast all partied together in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Enjoy!!

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