It is almost as overwhelming to write an article about New York Comic Con 2017, as it is to experience it. On Sunday October 8th 2017, my Son and I brought two tickets to attend what is often called the ultimate fan experience. Perhaps, that is an understatement. New York’s Comic Con is easily the most overwhelming and enjoyable experience that all types of science fiction fans will ever encounter. New York’s Comic Com is huge in every facet. The crowds, the presenters, the displays, the posters, the seminars, the previews, the stars, and even the building itself is all on display in a grand spectacle of entertainment.
New York’s Comic Con 2017 was held from Thursday October 5th through Sunday October 8th at New York’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. The Javits Center is New York’s crown jewel convention center that serves as one of the largest convention centers in the world. It is located at 655 W. 34th St in an area that is known as Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen. It’s about a twenty-minute walk from Penn Station and New York’s famous arena, Madison Square Garden, where some events connected to New York Comic Con were also held.
Most people attending the show took the walk from Penn Station to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. New York City is one of those places where it takes a lot to get noticed on the streets, but the sight of fans who were dressed up in some mighty outrageous costumes while walking from Penn to Javits did turn many heads.
My son and I arrived at the Javits Center at 8:45 am Sunday morning. Even though the convention did not begin until 10:00 am, I had heard that it was a good idea to arrive early. The Javits Center address is listed as 34th street and 11th Avenue, but the fan entrance for those who had already purchased tickets was at 39th street and 11th Avenue. The Convention center is so huge is spans about seven or eight New York city blocks. The first thing one will notice about New York’s Comic Con is that it is run very well. Right from the start we were led through a scanning and security process that was done quickly and in a much more friendlier manner than one will experience at most sporting events and arenas. We were than led into the building and directed downstairs into the so-called famous “queue lines.”
New York Comic Con 2017: The Queue Line.
If your going to New York’s Comic Con and intend on arriving early or waiting for photo-ops or autographs, than you will undoubtedly experience waiting on one of the queue lines. The queue lines run about as deep as an over-sized NFL Football field. There are about 11 lanes all divided by metal rails. The rails are a little shaky and tend to fall on to the floor. Whenever a rail fell onto the floor, the entire crowd would go wild screaming. I don’t know why, they just did.
If you’re a friendly person, or at least not shy, than the queue lines are an opportunity to meet some very happy and interesting people. Comic Con attendees all have great stories to share. I actually enjoyed the waiting in line, although after a while my legs gave out and I just sat on the floor. The most difficult challenge to attending a Comic Con is the amount of time you will spend on your feet. The crowds are so huge and finding a place to sit or rest is like Indiana Jones trying to find the Lost Ark. Over time, most people just hit the floor. Building floor poles are the most sought after destination as they provide a back rest. (The poles are shown in the picture above) Yes this may all seem trivial while reading it, but believe me, once you are there for seven or eight hours, you will understand.
New York Comic Con 2017: The Show Floor.
After waiting in the queue line for about 70 minutes, we were finally let loose to explore the convention. The first area of the convention center we hit was the show floor. The show floor is the heart of what New York’s Comic Con is all about for many people. It is also the most crowded area of the convention. However, the best time to hit the show floor is as soon as the convention opens. For at least a half an hour, you will be able to cruise around freely and see anything you want without being pushed forward from behind. Don’t get me wrong, throughout the entire day you are able to stop at any booth and browse or buy, but it’s at the start of the convention when its is the easiest to do so.
The show floor presented fans with hundreds and hundreds of tables and exhibits presented by some of the largest companies in the business. Amazon, Hulu, Marvel and Chevrolet all displayed exhibits. Marvel’s stage in the middle of the showroom was a great addition to the floor because it offered panels and presentations to everyone without forcing fans to sign up for a panel, or wait in line to enter a separate room. Hulu’s exhibit offered fans a chance to shoot a three-minute video in front of a screen that was promoting their new original show Freedom. Hulu would than offer to email you the video or share it on social media. The streaming service was also offering fans a chance to win prizes if they participated in taking a photo in front of a display that was promoting another new show called “Runaways.” The social media platform has become such an overwhelming force in society that all media companies now try to utilize fan’s own personal followings on social media to spread the news. Life has changed so much since the days of no computers and only broadcast television.
The show floor also featured many opportunities to play new video games and participate in virtual reality experiences. The Planet of the Apes Virtual Reality experience was mind blowing but also very time consuming as there was a great deal of instructions presented to the gamers.
Just about every comic book company from the small indies to the dinosaurs like Marvel and D.C showcased their materials in booths on the floors. Toy Companies, and every other types of dealer that immersed themselves in the science fiction collector also showcased their goods and works on the show room floor. There was at least one thousand booths and exhibits in the main show room. It was completely overwhelming and I had never seen anything like it before. I spoke with a few photographers and they were gasping for air because in every direction, in every blink you took, there was a spectacular photographic opportunity. Posters, prints, figurines, costumes, toys, gadgets, books, magazines and of course comics will drain the wallet and steal your rent check very easily. Its all very addicting.
New York Comic Con 2017: Photo-ops & Autographs.
The highlight for many fans at comic cons is the chance to meet the stars that have defined the science fiction genre of the 20th and 21st centuries. For some, it is the chance to meet their childhood heroes. For others it’s a chance to meet their current heroes or favorites of film, TV and comics. The opportunity to meet the celebrities comes at a cost. All celebrities charge different prices. Most charge the same price for a photo-op that they do for an autograph. Photo-ops and autographs are different sessions and take place behind closed curtains. Your not just just paying for the photo-op or autograph, your paying for the chance to meet the person. When I attended the Long Island Comic Con (Eternal Con) in the Spring at the Nassau Coliseum, the celebrity photo ops were out in the open, but they also were not as famous as the ones that were appearing at New York Comic Con 2017.
So how famous were the celebrities that appeared at New York Comic Con 2017? Well they were about as famous as you can get in the science fiction world. Mark Hamill and William Shatner were both appearing for all four days for photo-ops and autographs. It does not get any better than that. Captain Kirk of Star Trek and Luke Skywalker of Star Wars The two most famous characters from the two most popular science fiction dramas of all time. There was no way that I was going to pass on the opportunity for my young son to have a chance to meet Mark Hamill. Furthermore, there was no way I was missing the opportunity to meet William Shatner.
I had purchased my photo-ops online a few months before the New York Comic Con 2017 convention. Many photo-ops sell out quickly (try getting a Neagan photo-op at Walker Stalker) The photo-ops FAQ stated that if the fan signed up with their cellphone number, at the convention they would notify you when it was time to line up for photo-op session about five minutes before your appointment. They claimed that the entire photo-experience between lining up, taking the photo and receiving the print would only take about 10 minutes. This way the fans were assured of not wasting too much time in another line when they could be experiencing all the convention had to offer. However, what the photo-ops FAQ never takes into consideration, is the possibility that the celebrities may not be on time. When they are late, it tends to undermine the entire process and once again, BACK IN THE QUEUE LINE. But, so what? Your getting the chance to meet Captain Kirk, Luke Skywalker and all the other great greats that New York Comic Con 2017 featured.
We arrived about twenty minutes early for our Mark Hamill photo-op. As we were heading towards the photo-op section I did indeed get the text to line up. While we were waiting in line, I met a fellow fan dressed up as Batman who had flown to New York from Australia to attend the New York Comic Con 2017. The other fan next to me was from Philly. We had great conversations while we waited about forty minutes to meet Mark Hamill. When the line began moving, it did move fast.
As we waited outside the curtain, I saw my son’s face light up. He had caught a glance of Mark Hamill through an opening of the curtain. There is no better feeling than to see you son experiencing meeting an iconic figure such as Mark Hamill. All kids love Star Wars, no matter what generation they may be from. Its a series of films that has reached across generations like no other. This was a moment to treasure. We were guided quickly into the booth. Mark Hamill was a friendly as one could get. He put his arms around my son and pointed towards him as the photographer snapped the picture. It happens quickly, but its awe-inspiring. My son’s face as we walked out of the booth was priceless. It didn’t matter how expensive it was, it was worth every cent.
After taking the pic, we went right back in line to meet William Shatner. Many of the fans in line were wearing the vintage Star Trek Yellow Captain Kirk shirt. While there were some kids in line to meet Shatner, the majority of the fans seemed to be a little older. When we walked into the room and stood next to Shatner, my heart was beating extremely fast. This was the man that I had watched on television starring in the leading role in one of the greatest science fiction shows ever produced for television. It was the man who had taken his television character Captain Kirk and transformed him into an even more iconic figure during the show’s motion picture run. Yes, of course he played other great characters like T.J.Hooker and Denny Crane, and a host of other great roles on television and in the movies, but for so many of us, William Shatner will always shines brightest as Captain Kirk.
I said a few words to Shatner regarding how much I appreciated his work. He just smiled as we took the pic. As we were leaving William Shatner stopped me and thanked me for what I said. I was completely taken back by the way he said it. It was a genuine gesture of thanks to a fan who had expressed what his work had meant to him. It was a moment I will never forget and it put me in a daze for a few minutes. My son kept asking me if I was alright. This is what comic cons are all about. I had that moment, it was incredible, it was out of this world!
New York Comic Con 2017: The Fans.
When it comes right down to it, there would be no comic cons without the fans. Of course that’s an obvious point, but it’s how the fans participate that is so compelling. The fans that dress up in costume and cos-play become just as much an attraction as the exhibits and the stars. Many of the fans who dress up linger outside the Javits center where the food trucks line up. The outside road way which is still within the confines of the Javits center, gives the fans a chance to breath from the crowded show floor. Outside, the fans who come in costume wind up posing for thousands of pictures like the stars inside. Its interesting to watch some of the interactions that occur between the fans who dress up. Battle lines are drawn between costumes and characters. They mingle, they fake fight, they dance, they perform and they pose. One of the greatest moments was when a group of fans dressed up as the characters from HBO’s Game Of Thrones began dancing to hip hop songs. Everyone loved it!
There is so music to take in at NYCC Comic Con that one can not possibly see everything in one day. The show floor is overwhelming with the amount of exhibits presented to fans. The panels, presentations, autographs, and photo-ops run non stop for four days. If you really want to soak in the experience, than you should buy a four day ticket next year. And if you really want to have some fun and feel like a star,than put on a costume and let yourself go. You will be celebrated. In the end that’s what comic con is all about, a celebration of life……in many colors!
Don’t miss our second article on the Comic Con that showcases all the costumes.