The Best Stuff at New York Comic Con Was the Actual Comics
The event no longer feels like it has the same excitement or vitality it's had in the past, but there are still gems to be found.
New York Comic Con has swollen from a relatively small and grubby event to a churning sea of humanity and marketing that swallows up around 200,000 lost souls every fall. As the event has grown in popularity it seems like the people running it are trying to expand the audience and offer more kinds of experience. The fun things have become replaced increasingly with ads. Artists Alley has shrunk in size. Instead of live painting there’s a giant Geico presence.
I get that it’s a business and it’s also an event centered around buying things and being advertised at but it used to feel like there was more energy. I’ve got my own internal issues so I checked in with a friend and his 15-year-old comic book reading kid to see how they felt. Despite usually disagreeing with my opinions on comics they both agreed the event no longer feels like it has the same excitement or vitality it has had in previous years. You can read my coverage from 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2008 if you wish.
I saw a lot of great cosplayers, met some nice people, and basically had a fine time but I don’t think New York Comic Con is worth crossing the great water from Brooklyn to Manhattan for anymore. I hope you enjoy my account of the first two days of this year’s NY Comic Con. There are a lot of colorful photos and it’s a pretty fast read. Here's what I saw.
This fake comic shop was created to promote the sequel to Unbreakable. I wasn’t a fan of this. When marketing people create fake arcades and fake video stores to promote movies part of the appeal is that these are businesses that were once common and now exist primarily in our memories. But comic shops aren’t dead yet.
In the mid-80s Mattel created a line of dolls called He-Man and partnered with Filmation to produce an animated cartoon show to serve as half-hour advertisements for the toys. He-Man was so successful they created a very similar line of toys aimed at little girls along with another cartoon show, She-Ra, that was made for the sole purpose of advertising toys.
Now Netflix is making a new show about She-Ra and some people online are really mad about the desexualization of the main character’s design. I find this very confusing. The people who watched this show as children would be in their late 30s and early 40s by now. Where do people get the energy to be mad about this shit? Didn’t everyone at some point realize these cartoon shows were trash made to trick us and gain some emotional distance from their love for these shows? It’s like getting mad every time they update the Michelin Man or Chester Cheetah’s design.
Maybe the new show will be good. It can't be worse than an ad pretending to be entertainment.
I asked this woman if she was pumped for new She-Ra and she responded “November 16th on Netflix!” Internet people are mad at new She-Ra, real life people are psyched for new She-Ra.
This is Malcolm. As I took this photo he yelled “I’m Black Riiiiiiick!” He was disappointed there wasn’t a Citadel of Ricks meet up for all the people who had made their own alternate universe Rick costumes. I think that would be a cool thing for next year.
I thought this was like a Sid Vicious Rick, but she exclaimed she was Lesbian Rick.
I think Rick & Morty fans get a bad rap, but not all of them are harassing McDonalds employees about dipping sauces.
I took part in a South Park inspired escape-the-room with these two. The concept was that you had to solve a bunch of puzzles to escape the classroom. It was there to remind you that South Park has a new season currently in production.
You had to solve riddles to unlock combination locks and then get this Clyde Frog totem and mount it on a pole that other people found and then insert it into this hidden slot. Once that was done it shot out lasers at specific letters around the room. It was like that scene with the Staff of Ra in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Before I even understood what the puzzles were the group I was with had solved it.
“Gunpla” is what people who build Gundam model kits call the hobby of building Gundam model kits. Bandai, the company who makes Gundam model kits had set up an area where expert Gundam builders gave out little Gundam model kits and instructed the new model builders on gunpla.
I liked this a lot. I know they were just trying to promote model kits but I thought it was sweet to watch a guy teach proper decal application to a mom and her kids. Providing a place to sit is rare at comic conventions and free creative activities is even rarer. Big ups to Bandai’s marketing people.
This is Jordan Neidert who was teaching people about models. He built most of the models in front of him.
Jordan also built this little diorama of robots fucking up a train station. I asked him if he imagined that there were little people in these trains and he said that there must be. There’s smoke coming out of the chimney of that shack on the bottom right so there must be some old mechanic in there who was just drinking coffee when he noticed that there were giant robots wrecking his place of employment. Jordan and I theorized that he’s most likely pressed up against the window hoping a giant robot doesn’t crush his shack and kill him.
I love this Mark Todd designed “DTH VDR” toy. It had googly eyes. This is the kind of fan art I wish I saw more of.
Spider-Punk seems like the kind of punk who would get his mom’s maid to sew patches onto his punk jacket for him. If this was made to annoy punks then I approve. I suspect this character was just created by an awful nerd who thinks they are a "cool nerd."
I like this Magneto doll that Sideshow Collectibles had on display. I like how the black lines on his costume show the definition of his plastic muscles.
While staring at the fancy action figures I spotted Scott Adsit. I told him about what a big fan I was of Medieval Madness, a really popular pinball machine he did voices for in 1997. He also was on 30 Rock. As you can see, he has good taste in comics.
My favorite type of costume to see at NY Comic Con is the ridiculously cumbersome type, like this one. A tiny young woman named Jenna or Jessa was inside this Lego Spider-Man that she spent three months constructing out of cardboard and papier-mache.
Here’s another impractical and ambitious costume. This is the moon from Zelda: Majora’s Mask as portrayed by Mandy Cake. I like the oddness of sexy legs coming out of the bottom of the crazed moon. And walking by is a very solid Eye of the Beholder doctor from the Twilight Zone!
There was a human inside this humongous Kuchi Kopi costume.
This kid’s dad had built a whole cardboard Ghostbusters car around his wheelchair. I commended him for solid dadding.
Besides trying to photograph the people with the largest costumes I also like to photograph the people wearing the least amount of costume on their body. It seems similarly impractical to wearing a giant costume, but also potentially unhygienic and chilly. This guy was dressed as a character in 300.
Here’s an uneasy He-Man.
This Malibu Ken is both mostly nude and in an unwieldy giant box which is why he was my very favorite costumer of this year’s New York Comic Con. If he wants to list this on his resume he is welcome to tell people he is VICE’s top cosplayer of New York Comic Con 2018.
My other favorite costumed people to photograph are people who are eating in costume, sitting on the ground in costume or arguing with someone on the phone while in costume. I didn’t see a lot of those this year.
There were less half nude women surrounded by a semi-circle of men with cameras than in previous years. This woman is dressed as a specific Kotobukiya statue of Asuka from Evangelion. I’m not crazy about the sexualization of the female characters from that show but in this case I think it's just a costume.
These twins were dressed as characters from American Horror Story, but I just thought they had good style. They win “most stylish cosplayers at NYCC 2018," an award I am inventing as I type these words.
This isn’t going to be impressive to non-ST:TNG fans but Kaylee Frye, pictured above, looks an awful lot like Ensign Ro Laren, the character she’s dressed like.
I didn’t notice any overwhelmingly common costumes. In previous years there’d be a ton of Deadpools, Harley Quinns and Ricks but this year the costuming seemed a little scaled back. I did see four Macho Mans though.
Four Macho Mans isn’t a ton of Macho Mans but I don’t think I’ve ever noticed any Macho Mans in the past. I guess 1980s pro wrestling is back.
I overheard somebody call this guy “Superfly.” Come on, man.
I forgot to photograph the fourth Macho Man.
Here’s the best Erik Killmonger I saw as portrayed by Johnathan Brin. He thinks they might bring him back to life for the next Black Panther. If anyone from Marvel is reading this, please bring back Kilmonger. He was the real hero of Black Panther.
What if Mace Windu didn’t die and instead got together with Leia?
I didn’t see as many Over the Garden Wall costume groups as previous years but this was a solid set.
This woman was dressed like a Handmaid's Tale.
On the back of her cape she’d affixed these patches. This was the only directly political statement I noticed at the convention. I felt like current concerns were weighing down everyone's good time though. We all wanted to escape but bad news is inescapable.
Originally Boba Fett was designed to be some sort of high ranking secret agent Storm Trooper and had a white costume before they changed his whole character around. In the archival photos of this version of the costume it has a Star Wars towel as a cape.
Here’s a Majin Buu.
Here’s a different incarnation of Majin Buu.
Here’s a Bulma.
Here’s another Bulma.
The nice people at the 2000 AD booth let me wear their Judge Dredd helmet. A man named Oliver at the booth was wearing a white ribbon to honor Carlos Ezquerra who had died on October 1st. Carlos co-created Judge Dredd and was the original artist for the Dredd stories.
One cool thing about Carlos’s original design was that he gave Dredd full lips which, combined with the comic being in black and white, made the character intentionally racially ambiguous.
I know most of this article is sort of humorous and this is a silly photo but I just wanted to acknowledge his passing. Carlos created one of the most enduring characters in comics and I have been making drawings and Fimo sculptures of Judge Dredd since I was little.
Here’s an original drawing that R. Crumb did about how much Ayn Rand sucks, which he gave to a friend who liked Ayn Rand. That guy turned around and sold it which is a good reminder not to do favors for Ayn Rand fans.
Here’s an incredible Rory Hayes original that Scott Eder had for sale. If you don’t know Rory Hayes, Google his name. He made some of the most insane, frightening and experimental underground comics of the 1960s. In the times where my own mental issues gripped me the hardest I made art that started to resemble a style that Rory employed his whole career.
Here’s a beautiful late-1970s Gary Panter original drawing.
This guy is just in the photo to provide a sense of scale.
Moleskine collaborated with Kelsey Wroten—whose comics I published on VICE before anyone else knew her stuff. Moleskine had her paint this huge painting in a giant sketchbook that’s held open with oversized bulldog clips. They also had her do the art for a special NY Comic Con notebook. This made me really happy.
Moleskine’s been surprisingly hip lately. They had Nate Turbow host a cartooning workshop for them and his online cartoons are all about him being a coke-addled pussyhound. Moleskine makes stuff themed around Barbie, Lego, Batman and other things you would usually associate with kids so big up Moleskine for stepping outside the zone of commercial safety
There was a booth that was selling all those old comic fanzines. I love the amateurish good/bad Batman. This is some beautifully instinctual and self-taught skill. Why can’t bad artists draw this great these days?
WIll any new Marvel comic ever match the perfection of this cover of FOOM, the Marvel fanzine? FOOM stood for Friend Of Ol’ Marvel and was published in the 70s by Marvel. Jim Steranko art directed.
“Greetings O Seeker of Truth! Thou hast found thy true Nirvana!”
I love what’s happening on this cover. Check out the coloring on the planet on the bottom right.
Quang Le makes buttons and took the photos for a book about Mr. T collectibles I wrote the introduction for. Here he is holding up an original Will Eisner drawing he’d bought. I didn’t notice until he’d left that he was wearing overalls without a shirt.
This is Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. I first met them when I was 12 at a Big Apple Con in the basement of St. Paul the Apostle. They both did drawings for me that I hung on my wall through middle school.
I headed to artist’s alley which was relocated and smaller than it had been in previous years.
This is Foxtrot creator, Bill Amend. You don’t see a lot of newspaper cartoonists at comic conventions so I was very surprised to see him. I made little Fimo sculptures of his Jason’s comic character, Slug Man, as a youth.
Geof Darrow was selling his hyper technical original drawings. I wonder what it would be like to inhabit his mind.
This is Alexis Ziritt from Venezuela. Check out his stuff.
I got to overhear Whilce Portacio, the creator of the X-Men character Bishop, explain the creation of the character to this guy named Harry who cosplays pretty seriously as Bishop. He said he wanted to create a tough guy who wasn’t psychotic like Wolverine.
I attended a Titmouse Animation panel during which the founder, Chris Prynoski, was doing live doodles based on the questions being asked during the Q and A. They were projected on a screen. I found this drawing comforting.
I had been at the convention for two days and felt like I had absorbed as much as I could and decided not to go back for the following two days. These dogs were my favorite thing at the convention overall.
Here’s my con haul. Everyone who likes comics and is in the New York area should go check out Comic Arts Brooklyn on November 11th at Pratt.
Look at my Instagram.
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