Editor’s Note: I love interacting with our readers! It helps us to constantly improve NerdSpan and to continue bringing you all the Clickbait-Free content that we can. (And some that you didn’t even know you were looking for!) Of course, when a longtime reader has a particular request that is perfectly inline with what we’re trying to do, how can I refuse? One such reader, Christopher Freda, asked if he could write an article for NerdSpan about his experience at the 2016 NYCC. Who am I to disappoint such an awesome reader? So, here is NYCC 2016 from Christopher’s POV. Enjoy!
New York Comic Con 2016, from a Comic Nerd’s Perspective
By Christopher Freda
I guess I should start off with a brief bit about me and my particular brand of fandom. I started reading comics back in the mid-’80s and then stopped at some point in the early ’90s upon entering high school. When my good friend Chris informed my back in 2011 that DC would be doing a line-wide relaunch, The New 52, and that he was considering using it as a jumping on point, I decided to join him. Much to my wife’s occasional chagrin, I haven’t looked back! A big part of fostering my return to the world of comics was the extremely friendly and ridiculously helpful staff of my local comic book shop, Best Comics in New Hyde Park, NY who obliterated the stereotype of the mocking, condescending, comic shop employee that can pervade pop culture.
Last week marked the fourth year in a row that Chris and I attended the mega pop culture event that is New York Comic Con. Now, I feel like I really need to add a qualifier in here for you fine folks who are reading this here review. I’m not a cosplayer. I do not go to panels or screenings. I’m not a gamer. I do not collect statues or figurines. I am a COMIC BOOK nerd. My goal every year at NYCC is the same every year: jam my backpack with as many comics as I can, meet as many writers and artists as I can and have them sign their work. I spend 90% of my time in Artist’s Alley attempting to accomplish this. If I’m not in Artist’s Alley, I’m either eating or at publisher’s booth for a signing.
My preparation for the event begins weeks before as I scour the NYCC website and make my list of all the creators attending whose work of which I am a fan. There is always a hierarchy to this list, based upon how big a fan I am and how much of their work I have. There’s the added complication that some of these creators are only available, via scheduled signing, which usually require wrist bands. That’s where we’re going to start friends!
Every year my buddy and I try to get to Comic Con as early as we can, to wait in line before the doors open. And every year when the doors fly open at 10 AM, we are a little less amused at how many people are ALREADY on the show floor. These people are not exhibitors or vendors or creators or NYCC workers, they are guests who have either been let in via friends and family or paid their way in. When you make it to the DC booth at 10:04 and the line to get a wristband is already almost capped, there has been shenanigans. This is every year frustration.
Another bit of every year frustration, and I will get heat for this I’m sure, is cosplayers. Although it’s not really the cosplayers themselves that are the object of my ire, it’s the folks who will stop them in the middle of the show floor or one of the crowded rows of Artist’s Alley to take their picture. This can create huge traffic jams and often prevents people from getting where they would like to go.
But enough with the grumpy and on to the awesome. Every year, I am humbled and surprised at how cool some of the biggest names in comics are about interacting with their fans and signing huge stacks of their work. Most often, they will chat amicably about past and current storylines, occasionally giving little spoilers or insight into their process. They are generally really touched at how much people love their work and the joy that they bring to folks.
What’s this process like, how does it work, how do you get to meet your faves and have them sign your massive stacks of books? Well, most writers and artists will have their tables set up in Artist’s Alley, so you make your way down there like intrepid travelers on a mountain hike with your insanely heavy bag stuffed with comic goodness. You weave your way from aisle to aisle, checking the NYCC app on your phone for the location of their table. Upon finding them, you hunt through your bag for their books, you should always have your comics out of the bags and ready when you approach these folks at their booths. This way they can get right to signing. Often there is a line, so sometimes conversations will be brief while they sign your books. If there’s a fellow behind you that only has one book while you have many, they may ask for them to go ahead of you, the answer is always “Sure!” Once they sign your books, it’s on to the next one, and so on!
Sometimes, for a heavy hitter like Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, or Brian K. Vaughn, you will need to show up to a publisher’s booth first thing in the morning to obtain a wrist band to get your books signed. At these signings, there is often a limit to the amount of books you can have signed. This year, we were fortunate enough to get to secure wristbands for Scott Snyder. Unfortunately, we missed out on wristbands for Jim Lee and Greg Capullo. However, being of keen eye and Mr. Capullo being an awesome individual, when we spotted him at the Image booth, he was gracious enough to sign some books for us.
I am of the great fortune to have met many of my favorite writers and artists over the years and this year was no exception. Some of my favorites I was able to connect with again this year were Sean Gordon Murphy, Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Tim Seeley, Raphael Albuquerque, Dustin Nguyen, James Tynion IV, Marguerite Bennett, Babs Tarr, Brian Buccellato, Yannick Paquette, Wes Craig, Eddy Barrows, Ryan Ottley, and Ramon K. Perez.
And I was of the great fortune to meet for the first time Greg Rucka, Julie & Shawna Benson, Benjamin Percy, Bengal, Declan Shalvey, Joshua Williamson, Juan Ferreyra, Steve Orlando, Robson Rocha, Lee Bermejo, Terry Dodson, Stephen Byrne, Gabriel Rodriguez, and Brian Azzarello.
All of these folks were ridiculously cool to me and I am especially appreciative of Sean Gordon Murphy, Raphael Albuquerque, James Tynion IV, Marguerite Bennett, and Joshua Williamson for signing the tremendous piles I had for them. Interactions like these are what makes going to Comic Con worth it for me every year.
And sometimes, when you least expect it, really cool things can happen. I had no idea a favorite author of mine, both for his work on comics like Green Arrow, Detective Comics, and Teen Titans, as well as his work for Esquire Magazine, was going to be at NYCC this year. I don’t know how I missed it. However, I lucked into attending his signing at the DC booth and fortunately had comics he had written on hand for him to sign. Also at that signing was Green Arrow artist Stephen Byrne who upon my apologizing for not having any of his books on hand for him to sign as I hadn’t realized he would be there, handed me an awesome Green Arrow sketch he had done while waiting for the signing to start! Or when Rafael Albuquerque did a quick sketch of one of my favorite characters, Skinner Sweet of American Vampire fame, for me!
I hope you enjoyed getting a bit of NYCC from the perspective of Artist’s Alley fan boy!