Panels, autographs, and cosplay, oh my: New York Comic Con returns bigger than ever
By Julia Day
Arts and Entertainment Editor
Normally it would be strange to walk down the streets of New York City and see a person dressed in full Stormtrooper garb, but not during the weekend of Comic Con. Nerds galore pour down the avenues towards the Jacob Javits Center located on 11th Avenue between 34th and 40th Streets in Manhattan. The four day event, which started on Thursday Oct. 9 and ended on Sunday Oct. 12, attracted people from all over the country for cosplay fun, merchandise splurging, and pop-culture indulgence.
Comic Cons are annual fan conventions that are host to comic, video game, anime, movie, and television related events and goodies. Often attracting thousands of attendees, they are held across the United States as well as different countries throughout the world.
San Diego Comic-Con International has been known to be the largest and most popularly attended of the cons, until this year. SDCC, which began its annual tradition back in 1970, started with a mere attendance rate of 145 people. Years later at the 2014 SDCC held this past July, attendance has expanded to nearly 130,000 attendees.
Over on the east coast, New York Comic Con began its own annual tradition in 2006, beginning with 33,000 attendees. The New York con has always been overshadowed by its Californian cousin, until this year when 2014 NYCC attendance grew to 151,000 people. Looking at the numbers, this means that NYCC had nearly 21,000 more people in attendance than SDCC, crowning it the king of cons for this year.
It has been speculated that the increase is due opening up NYCC a day earlier to the public on Thursday, which has traditionally been reserved for the press and 4-day pass holders. Allowing all attendees to now buy Thursday tickets has enabled for more events, entertainment guests, and evidentially more attendees.
This year’s NYCC was host to numerous celebrities including big names such as William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Adam West, Bill Nye, Seth Green, Ralph Maccio, Gillian Anderson, Stephen Amell, Tom Kenney, the cast of “The Walking Dead,” the cast of “Archer,” the cast of “The League,” and many more. Of course, in honor of the convention’s namesake, there were also comic writers including Bryan Lee O’Malley of the “Scott Pilgrim” series, Michael Golden and Chris Claremont of “X-Men,” Greg Capullo and Scott Snyder of “Batman,” and more.
Fans waited in line for hours at a time to enter the panel for their favorite shows like “The Walking Dead,” “Bob’s Burgers,” and “Star Wars Rebels,” as well as panels featuring celebrity spotlights for Bill Nye, Patrick Stewart, and Stephen Amell. Lucky audience members were able to get sneak peak exclusives, as well as engage in Q&A.
Autograph tables lined the walls of the Javits Center basement, as eager fans waited to get items signed and snapshots taken.
But NYCC is not all about fawning over celebrities. The main floor consisted of hundreds of vendor tables handing out free goodies and selling T-shirts, posters, comics, and custom trinkets. One booth had the unique option of taking a picture of yourself, then having it converted it into a 3-D miniature action figure. A gigantic dragon head belonging to “The Hobbit” character Smaug, watched over the floor with its piercing yellow eyes as goers walked by. Artist’s Alley, another section of the main floor, had a myriad of unique custom drawings and prints by local artists.
One of the best parts about comic cons is the interactive opportunity for fans to cosplay as their favorite pop-culture characters. Cosplay, short for costume play, brings out the creativity in everyone, with some people recreating characters and others making clever new designs. Walking around the floor you saw fans dressed as Daenerys from “Game of Thrones,” the gang from “Scooby Doo,” The Joker from “Batman,” Link from “The Legend of Zelda,” and Spock from “Star Trek.”
Some unique costumes this year included a man dressed in a button down shirt and bow tie, holding a sign saying “Looking 4 Anaconda” while holding a box of bread buns, referencing Nicki Minaj’s new hit song “Anaconda.” Another costume which has gained much attention on social media was a Johnny Depp cosplay, incorporating elements of multiple characters from his films including the scissor hands from “Edward Scissorhands,” the pirate get-up of “Pirates of the Carribean,” the shoes and pants from “Alice in Wonderland,” the pocket watch and bowtie from “Sweeney Todd,” and various other characters.
“I had never gone before so I walked in not really knowing what to expect, but it was a great experience,” said Rich Ramsland, a junior at the University at Albany. “Just imagine going to a Halloween party with 151,000 of your closest friends. Chaotic? Yes. Fun? Definitely.”
UAlbany student Nicole Arnold cosplayed at this year’s comic con, sewing her own two costumes from scratch. Having gone for two days, Arnold cosplayed as Porrim from the web comic “Homestuck” on Friday, and Fiona from “Adventure Time” on Saturday.
“I make drafts and patterns and I start doing measurements, then once that’s done I need fabric. I buy the fabric and dye it if I need to, then cut it accordingly to the patterns. Then I sew everything up and I add little details when I need to,” said Arnold. “You meet a lot of people through cosplay, I love meeting people from fandoms who are into the same stuff that I am.”
Whether it be meeting your favorite celebrity, buying a rare comic, or seeing the creative cosplays, there’s truly something for everyone at New York Comic Con. Every year expands and gets better than the next. With thousands of fans gathering together and sharing their interests, it’s truly an experience unlike any other.