New York Comic Con Is the Best Thing in My Life
Every summer I eagerly anticipate the fall, because it means I get to spend another week at my favorite event, New York Comic Con.
Every summer I eagerly anticipate the fall, because it means I'll get to spend another week at my favorite event, New York Comic Con. My other favorite annual event is when McDonald's does their Monopoly promotion, but that is a distant second.
I didn't always like the New York Comic Con. The first one in 2006 was a poorly attended and dismal affair that I remember like a bad dream. Milla Jovovich was there and I saw a sneak preview of the very disappointing Art School Confidential movie. The whole thing bummed me out so much that I didn't go back until VICE forced me to in 2008.
I covered it again in 2011, and had such a great time that I went again in 2012 and 2013 as well. If I don't die or get fired over the course of the next year I'll be writing about it for VICE in 2015, too.
Here are the things I saw over the last four days at the Javits Center that I thought were interesting, pretty, odd, pitiful, or otherwise notable. I hope you enjoy reading it. If you don't, you can just look at pictures of people in cool costumes.
The man staring at me like he thinks I'm really stupid is H. Jon Benjamin, who provides the voice for Bob on Bob's Burgers and Archer on Archer. I was at a round table interview with several other journalists in an echoey hidden area of the convention. Roundtable interviews are usually kind of hard to pull a good story out of, but they are a great way to sit at a table and stare at your favorite entertainers.
Someone Else: How much of yourself is put into Bob?
H. Jon Benjamin: A lot. I'm a lot like Bob. The only difference is that I'm more cynical than Bob. When I play him, [show creator] Loren [Bouchard] will often have to hold me back from being too negative and not hate my kids and hate Linda. Loren's big note to me is always "You don't hate your wife."
VICE: Would you say that Linda is the villain of Bob's Burgers?
It's funny, I can't conceive of how anybody likes her. She's so grating. I think Loren's point-of-view is that she's this wonderfully unhinged woman who probably drinks a little too much but has a lot of fun and a lot of spirit. I, as an actor, have to find some way to like that.
This is Loren Bouchard, the guy who created Bob's Burgers as well as Dr. Katz, Home Movies, and some others. The guy on the right is John Roberts, who voices Linda on the show. Round table interviews are sort of awkward, but here's a snippet.
Do you think Bob's food actually tastes any good?
Loren Bouchard: Yes. We always imagine that Bob's very good at his job and his burgers are delicious. He's just undiscovered. At the moment he's unsuccessful, but he's actually an artist.
Is the plan to eventually have the entire roster of the Invite Them Up album appear as voice actors on Bob's Burgers?
Bobby Tisdale: That would be great.
Eugene Mirman: Yes. They're all part of the same community. We've all known each other for around ten or 15 years.
What do you think of the current New York comedy scene compared to what it was ten years ago?
Well, Kristen moved to LA as have many people, but New York is strong and no one will defeat it... Except the economy as it prices out artists. Bye artists!
Kristen Schaal: You get into your 30s, say "I'm too old for this shit," and move to LA. If I was a young comedian, I would move to New York yesterday because you can just burn it down. You can almost start your own movement right now.
Which of the newer comedians are you liking?
Mirman: Aparna's great. And Michael Che, but he blew up so fast that he's not totally a secret.
So you're saying that New York is a fast path to success right now for comedians?
If you do five sets a night you'll get really good. If anybody would like to do comedy, just do it a ton every day as many times as you can and it'll probably be fine, right?
My favorite part of New York Comic Con is seeing people sitting on the ground and eating or sleeping. Here is Captain America eating something out of Tupperware that he brought from home while using his shield as a table. His shield is made out of a trashcan lid. This made me very happy.
This is a mother and son duo each dressed as Deadpool. Deadpool may be the most consistently popular cosplay character. He is definitely the only modern Marvel comic I read. It's like if Wolverine were hilarious instead of brooding.
At the southernmost edge of the giant glass and steel terrarium that is the Javitz Center was a display of the various Batman movie costumes. This one had a lifelike model of Michael Keaton built into it. I still get excited when I see this costume. The 1989 Batman was sort of like Star Wars for people who were under ten when it came out.
This guy is dressed as Bob the Goon from the 1989 Batman movie! Hooray! I loved Joker's goons in that movie. They were the perfect movie amalgamation of B-boys and skinheads.
NECA was showing off this doll based on Danny Devito as the Penguin. It blew me away. What a scary object to have in your home. I want it.
This is a great costume based on Ashitaka from the Studio Ghibli movie, Princess Mononoke. I noticed a lot of Ghibli cosplay this year. It warmed my heart.
This guy is a perfect Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. The Kingpin.
I thought this little diorama based on the Day the Earth Stood Still was pretty.
Why is this funny to me? It just is.
This friendly koala person was promoting something, but I do not know what. I just enjoyed her energy and costume.
It's the twin girls from the Shining except, instead of getting killed with an ax, they grew up and kept dressing the same.
This guy stopped by the Mishka booth with a crazy face full of metal and Spiderman on all his clothing items. He also had complex Spiderman tattoos. I told him that he reminds me of Mad magazine comics from the early 90s when they would make fun of the piercing trend.
I drew this for that metal-faced Spiderman obsessor. It's Peter Parker, Spider Amputee. I bankroll my Comic Con expenditures by doing custom sketch cards at the Mishka booth whenever I have free time or need money. It's a lot of fun and I usually just get asked to do portraits of people.
The girl on the right is Destiny. I know her through another girl named Destiny, oddly enough. She's dressed as Jade from Mortal Kombat. The two people on the left are not in costume. They are doing public humiliation games, which is why the lady has a leash and handcuffs on. New York is a cool place.
There's something very funny about this. Once upon a time, the only girls at comic conventions were "booth babes." These were women who were paid to dress as Vampirella or other female characters in pseudo-bathing suits. Sexless men would line up and nervously take pictures with them while engaging in hover hands. Now, comic conventions have a lot of half-naked ladies photographing other half-naked ladies.
This is me getting run over by R2D2. I took this photo in the hopes of winning a Luke Skywalker costume. Whoever got the most likes on their photo would be the winner. 50 Cent's headphone company was hosting this since they had just produced a series of Star Wars headphones.
The second day of NYCC began with another roundtable interview with the cast of the reality show Comic Book Men, as well as the show's producer, Kevin Smith. When I was growing up and felt bad about the things I liked, I got a great sense of hope and relief from Kevin Smith's movies. I have a lot of issues with the outlook of Chasing Amy, but Clerks and Mallrats still hold up and his podcasts are pretty great. I feel like I owe him for the happiness and comfort his movies gave me when I was a lonely kid.
Smith answered some basic questions about Comic Con from the other interviewers in long and entertaining monologues with frequent physical gesticulations. He thinks things are better now than when you got beat up for liking comics and fantasy and stuff. Most interestingly to me, he discussed how he was cutting sugar out of his diet. Kevin Smith is open about hating vegetables and being raised on processed food and eating boxes of cereal in one sitting, so it was interesting to hear him talking about making such a big turn.
Here he is talking about quitting sugar.
Kevin Smith: This is all predicated on watching this documentary called Fed Up where they just explain nutrition in a way that suddenly clicked for me after 44 years. Since the early 70s, every processed food company in this country has been quietly adding more and more sugar—and with good reason, because we like the taste of it and they're in the business of making money. They're like, "People like it when it tastes sweet? We'll put fuckin' more sugar in it!"
I never learned how to eat properly. I'm a processed food eater. I'm the kind of guy who, if I'm offered real mashed potatoes, will ask, "Can you make instant?" I like shit that comes out of a box. In the documentary, they say that the government's been telling you for decades that if you eat less and exercise more, then you'll lose weight.
But it is physically impossible for average people to burn off what they're consuming. If you give a kid a juice box, he has to pedal around in circles on a tricycle for six hours to burn it off. We've been lied to. I've eaten less and exercised and lost some weight, but not a lot. It's the sugar, dude.
Everything I reach for has sugar in it. I realize now that the dopamine system is about reward. You eat some jellybeans that are bubble gum flavored and you're like "Oh my god, it's gum I can swallow?" and suddenly you're happy. They broke down the process.
Human beings aren't supposed to consume fruit juice. All the fiber in the actual fruit slows the absorption of sugar into your system. When you drink juice, it just hits you with all the sugar at once and your pancreas goes "Make insulin!" and that's all my body does. My pancreas has been like "Look at all this sugar, let's store it." I wear a fucking fat suit of sugar.
For 44 years I've been poisoning myself with sugar and I've had a great time. But it's eventually going to kill me. So I decided to try six months without sugar and see what happens. I talked to my friend Phil and he said, "I tried that six months ago." I said "Get out of here, man! When does it start to feel better?" and he said "Still waiting for it."
This is Brian Johnson from Comic Book Men. It was neat to get to meet him. He's the meanest and funniest guy on the show. It was cool getting to talk to him about the bizarre, unpublished fantasy novel that his mother wrote about teenage prostitutes in a world of high fantasy. Go watch Comic Book Men, everyone.
This guy was taking photos of people with a Gameboy Camera that was plugged into a Super Gameboy that was plugged into a Supaboy, and all of it was plugged into a giant backpack rig. It looked cool, but is it really worth it?
This guy is supposed to be a homeless vet. Just kidding, I know it's Solid Snake.
This is that scene where Joffrey dies in Game of Thrones.
The expression on this guy makes me think that he's finally over all this pirate shit.
Ryan Cohn was at the Obscura booth selling human skulls and other bones. He has around 200 skulls in his collection. I couldn't believe people were spending hundreds of dollars on toys when they could walk out of the Javits Center with a real human skull.
The line to meet the blond woman at the left of this image was about 50 people long. One of the people in line told me they were waiting to meet Jessica Nigri, a cosplayer. I asked if she was good and I was told she was "hot," in this weird pronunciation like the speaker was holding a hot cup of tea and saying "Hot hot hot!" really fast. When I got to actually see her, she wasn't even in costume.
There were costumed girls in line to take a photo with an uncostumed girl who is only famous for wearing costumes. It just made no sense to me.
Supergirl knows that this fairy store is a little bit goofy.
Does the carpet match the everything?
This is a beautiful toy that looks like the Excessive Machine that almost made Barbarella die of pleasure. Also Bone Troller would be a good name for a Grindr-style app.
Old action figures from the late 70s and early 80s make me so happy. All that colorful plastic is such beautiful junk.
This is a very lazy Hulk and I approve. His Hulk hands are hanging by lanyards from his neck.
Troma has a booth at every event that exists. The Toxie head in the foreground was made of silicon and it felt so real.
People really love Groot. I love impractical, cumbersome costumes. Kudos to this kid.
Whenever I needed to charge my phone and sit down I would return to the Mishka booth and draw sketchcards for my many adoring fans.
I drew this lady.
I drew this lady, too.
I drew this Battlestar Galactica cosplayer.
I drew Leonardo giving reading encouragement to a woman for her young son. I also drew a guy as Wolverine's Grindr profile for some friends of his to give to him.
It made me feel very happy to see the large amount of Ghibli characters. This girl is dressed as the heroine of Kiki's Delivery Service.
This is the best costume I saw all week at New York Comic Con.
I like this Buu costume.
I followed a gaggle of Deadpools up a staircase where I found a mass Deadpool gathering. Many of them were specialized versions of Deadpool, such as Princess Deadpool and Beach Bum Deadpool.
After a while, all the Deadpools formed a conga line and danced through the convention hall.
These two were actually married to one another.
This is Aub from Dark Horse, holding up the best thing they were selling. It's a hardcover collection of the best of an alternative comic that Stan Lee and Denis Kitchen made. It's signed by both famous comic publishers. There are 250 copies signed and you can buy one here.
This guy was cosplaying as Roy Orbison in the Matrix.
I kept revisiting this costume I was trying to win by being popular on Instagram. At this point, I was behind a DJ and a pale metalhead who was clearly winning the contest by having fake profiles like his photo.
I love this guy's costume. He's got an officially-licensed Ninja Turtle mask, some dinosaur gloves, and a suit that appears to be made of spandex and yellow foam. The icing on the thrown-together-costume cake is that his chest is signed by Ninja Turtle actors.
Around 5:00 PM I hosted this art battle for Secret Walls, a competitive art thing that some English guys created. They set up two canvases and have two people, or teams of two, do a painting for 90 minutes in front of an audience.
This was the audience for the art battle. I think they were mostly just there because there were chairs. Supposedly the live feed of what was happening was going out to hundreds of thousands of people on Twitch TV. I spent a lot of the 90-minute art competition placing stickers on a guy who was asleep on the floor in the middle row.
I thought this lady was Vishnu at first but I am pretty sure she was actually an anime character.
I watched these two scuttle sideways toward each other and when they got to this point it give me ASMR-level thrills. This is my favorite kind of costume: big and impractical, made out of cardboard, and involving two people doing an action.
New York Comic Con had proven to be bad for my health. By the end of Saturday I had the beginning of a bad cold. I decided to skip the final day and not show up on Sunday.
I showed up anyway on Sunday because I was falling behind in the Instagram likes I needed to win the Luke Skywalker costume. I took Dayquil, B12, an Emergen-C, and a steroid pill and headed over. On my way inside I ran into into famed rapper Jean Grae. I explained my goal and she cheered as I walked away. "GO! WIN! GO! WIN! GO! WIN!"
In an attempt to take a photo that would be very popular on Instagram I put on my Leia costume and got Lamour Supreme and Greg Mishka to help tell people to "like" my photo and encourage them to help me get a cool, khaki sci-fi uniform.
Do you ever see something and it makes you forget that you're an adult? A year ago I saw ads for the YMCA's summer camp and I thought "Maybe camp would be fun this summer." Then I remembered that I was 30. This Batmobile box got me that level of excited. I like that it is an "Official Batman and Robin Batmobile Rider" but also that it is "endorsed by Batman and Robin." It comes with a "Bat Poncho" and the exclamation of "WOWIE!" in big letters. So much joy is contained in this packaging that it couldn't possibly be matched by its contents.
I love this crazy, goofy Powdered Toast Man costume.
It was getting close to the finish of NYCC and Dr. Strange was looking like the cover to the Replacements' Let It Be.
I drew two more sketchcards before the event closed and then I headed out.
I asked to take this Sailor Something's photo and then she did this odd Gollum pose. Did Sailor Moon characters do froggy poses like this? I don't remember that. Look at her blog if you want to see more cosplay photos.
This sentimental scary clown stood by the exit and bid all the conventioneers farewell.
Here's my convention haul. I got Hikari Shimoda prints, a deluxe edition of The Star Wars, BPRD volumes three and four, the Avengers Omnibus, McDonald's dolls from the 70s, a Game of Thrones throne statue, a Ghost in the Shell blu-ray, and Boba Fett headphones. I also ended up winning the Luke Skywalker costume so now that is all you will ever see me wearing ever again.
Thank you to everyone who let me take their photo, came to the Secret Walls event, or bought a sketchcard from me. I'll see you all at the next con.
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