It’s now been a few days since New York Comic Con came to a close, and my body, soul, and mind have mostly recovered. There’s something about these massive conventions that truly kicks your feet out from beneath you while also making you feel delighted about it. They’re a masochistic joyride, filled with swag, exclusives, the endless jostling against strangers all up in your personal bubble, and bursts of ecstasy. And all that’s before your seventh energy drink of the day.
That last note is particularly poignant as I arrive at the airport for my flight to NYC at the brisk hour of 2:30 AM, regretting every decision in my life that’s lead me up to this point. I work the evening shift in television metadata and I only just got off at 1:00 AM. But here I am, staring down an equally despondent Starbucks worker who gives me a soy London Fog and sends me on my way with the other miserable souls who have found their way here at dumb o’clock.
It’s ultimately a success story, though. I board, take off, land, and get to the Upper West Side all in a timely manner despite New York’s insistence that none of the subway lines actually do what they say they do, and arrive at the Javits Center to get my press badge and start the adventure that is NYCC.
Thursday – The Javits Is The 6th Level Of Hell
I really hate The Javits Center.
Everyone does. It’s an ill-designed M. C. Escher-inspired hellscape with too few bathrooms—waiting times for the ladies averaged around 40 minutes during the convention—too many staircases and a floor plan that simply makes no sense. If someone professes their love for the Javits Center, do not trust that person.
As someone who hasn’t been to NYCC since 2014, I have to say that I’m shocked at how much it’s grown. It’s massive—we’re talking San Diego Comic Con massive. I get lost no less than four times on the floor, wandering and scooching past the booths of independent creators and huge studios alike. There’s sort of set sections here, but the line is more blurred than it is at other large conventions. However, NYCC is still very much so a print and comics show, with a healthy half of the floor dedicated to publishers.
Pop culture-wise, TV reigns supreme. The Good Omens experience even gets a surprise visit from Neil Gaiman. After I finally clear the cesspool that is the crowd on the main floor and make it past the SYFY Fan Lounge to the press room, I’m greeted with 75% less people and subzero temperatures. However, my core body temperature has skyrocketed because I’m about to interview Travis McElroy and geek out about Dungeons & Dragons with him—so for now the winter breeze from the overworked AC is most welcomed.
It’s a casual chat out in the open, Travis speed signing a series of prints. “He’s timing himself to see how fast he can sign them all,” his assistant, Danielle tells me. Two minutes is the final time and Travis seems pretty happy about it. “As long as I can say I’m faster than my brothers.” I tell him that I’m proud of him, he compliments my microphone, and we get down to talking. He’s charismatic as hell and obviously cares a great deal about character creation and good, inclusive storytelling. He cries a bit. But the full details will have to wait for a future article.
I have another appointment and he has a nap to take, so we say our goodbyes and I’m back on the floor to interview some people and inevitably get lost—and I do, twice. But I also get to check out the House of Darkly booth with a Pumpkin Spice Latte plush and my basic white girl soul explodes.
After checking out the “LGBTQ+ In Children’s Graphic Novels” panel, I head home early knowing that Friday is going to kick my ass, and I’ll need all the rest I can get
Friday – Oww Oof My Bones
It’s VRV day! I couldn’t go to NYCC—and subsequently write a con diary—for VRV and not go to their offsite setup. And it’s a good thing I start this day with VRV’s Childhooding Zone and their free cereal bar, because I hadn’t eaten before arriving, and would need the sugary energy that’s part of a balanced breakfast to survive the second day.
The VRV HQ offsite is just a brisk walk from the Javits Center and is all about a celebration of childhood and the 90s, complete with blow up furniture in bioluminescent pink, and a giant bowl of Lucky Charms I’m invited to jump into—and struggle, very, very hard to get out of. I may have had a bit more trouble than most people and actually required outside assistance, but let’s not dwell on that.
Beyond the wall of cereal, televisions, and squeaky plastic furniture is a gallery of wonderful art celebrating VRV. Oh, Crunchyroll has games, did you know that? Well they do, and I play some. I also check out the trailers for new anime, grab some Japanese snacks from Bokksu, and try not to spend all my money on VRV and Crunchyroll merch. I get to meet a bunch of the VRV crew, which is quite lovely—they’re a good bunch.
With an invitation to the industry party later that night, I’m back off uptown to get my magic on at the New York Historical Society’s Harry Potter: A History of Magic Exhibit. This isn’t technically a part of NYCC, but it opens this weekend, so I’m including it just to say that everyone should go if you have any interest whatsoever in Harry Potter, or magic in general. The exhibit showcases J.K. Rowling’s original papers, notes, and drawings as well as historical artifacts that inspired her world of wizards and witches. My favorite parts are the interactive potions making—I had to make a beauty potion and I felt very called out—and tarot card reading, which is not a great fortune and leaves me very paranoid for the rest of the day. Other highlights are Nicholas Flamel’s 14th century gravestone from Paris, The Ripley Scroll on how to make a Sorcerer’s Stone, and an actual leaky cauldron… because I appreciate a punny callback.
I manage to not step foot in Javits for the rest of the day, heading instead to The Studio @ NYCC. The Studio is an off site where more programming is taking place—albeit for a price. Unless, that is, you’re press. Turns out the prints that Travis McElroy was signing on Thursday before our interview are being handed out at an event here, How To Be Super Good at D&D.
I’m fascinated by the rise in popularity of D&D over the past few years, especially as I was part of that rise, having never played it before the contemporary revival. It’s something Travis addresses during this panel in between talking about how he approaches DMing versus character creation.
“I don’t know if it’s more the case of D&D becoming more popular recently, or that people who always liked D&D are now realizing that they can say they do.” Food for thought.
After a brief respite which involves me pounding down a street hot dog like my life depends on it, I’m back in The Studio for The Adventure Zone panel. Clint McElroy, Travis, and Carey Pietsch are in attendance to give people a sneak peek at the Murder On the Rockport Express graphic novel, coming out next July. Having been the first graphic novel to ever top the New York Times trade paperback best sellers list, a second book was obviously in the cards. The panel is hilarious and delightful and my copy is already pre-ordered because that’s how I, err, roll.
The evening is filled was parties. First the Geek Fashion Social hosted by Geek Fold. It’s a small, but delightful group of nerdy fashion creators networking and showing off their talents and creations. I enjoy wearing said nerdy things, so it’s nice to learn about a number of new companies that have some seriously stellar threads like Volante Design and Heroicouture.
The VRV party’s next, and yours truly is a socially awkward animal that grabs a beer and sits herself down on an inflatable couch in hopes maybe someone will talk to her. Thankfully that’s the case, and after one very awkward “how do I talk to strangers” conversation, I manage to chat the night away whilst watching people fling themselves drunkenly into a large bowl of cereal.
10/10 for that alone.
Saturday – The Dawn Of The Third Day
I spend the morning working on articles for a myriad of sites then head out to meet an internet friend for the first time in Korea Town. Thankfully I am not kidnapped, murdered, or catfished.
The only thing I do at NYCC is take my very white self to the “Does Your Fantasy or Sci-Fi World Have To Be Woke” panel hosted by We Need Diverse Books. It’s an amazing panel that makes me check a lot of my own preconceptions about what I write in my own creative work. I come away with a lot of additions to my reading list.
The evening is filled with Korean BBQ with another internet friend and awful, yet amusing attempts at karaoke.
It’s important when you go to these massive cons to take some time out for yourself, to decompress. They’re a lot. It’s a lot of people, a lot of things to look at, to enjoy—it can be overwhelming, to say the least. So don’t feel bad or get FOMO if you, like me, need to clock out for a few hours or even an entire day.
Sunday – OooeeeeeeeOOOO
The day of days. The ultimate day. While most people are winding down, I’m marching towards Madison Square Garden at 5:30 in the morning with one goal—to see the first female Doctor of Doctor Who. Jodie Whittaker is Doctor number Thirteen and is already the love of my life since her appearance at San Diego Comic Con back in July.
I’m about the 100th person in line when I get there, the first fans having arrived as early as 3:30 AM. There’s something about Whovians—they’re excitable and dedicated and just the best of nerds. Lads and ladies are both dressed as Thirteen, everyone is chittering with curiosity. We’re getting to see the simulcast premiere of the debut episode of the first woman Doctor and then we get to talk to her and it’s kind of amazing.
First we have to get through the Riverdale, Gotham, and How To Train Your Dragon panels. It’s not a slog, they’re entertaining and pretty and watching other fans freak out is always a great thing. But then it’s our turn. 5,000 of us scream like we’re 13 and at an N’Sync concert
The Woman Who Fell To Earth is wonderful. There are tears, a lot of them. It’s hard to explain how much his means a lot to fans, old and new alike. Whittaker’s Doctor is madcap and Northern and delightful, and her companions—or as she calls them, friends—are diverse and competent and filled with wonder and bravery. I could wax poetical a lot here, but I’m already well over my word count, so I’ll leave you with a quote from showrunner Chris Chibnall:
“What we want to do is be making a version of Doctor Who that is accessible to everyone, is inclusive, that everybody feels like they’ve got a character that feels like them, that they can relate to.”
The Q&A is packed with audience members one after another thanking the team for representing them, from young girls to someone with dyspraxia—which companion Ryan Sinclair has—to people of color. It has something for everyone. It’s a celebration—and it’s the perfect way to end my whirlwind weekend at New York Comic Con.