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New York Comic-Con: An Overview by Drew Bittner
Date: 03 November 2010 /

Who'd have imagined that, in five years, New York City would field a convention that rivals the legendary San Diego Comic-Con for size, scope and programming? Well, it's happened. The New York Comic-Con is a behemoth...and very much worth your attention.

For a show that's only five years old, the New York Comic-Con has to be considered a smash by anyone's standard. With guests including Stan Lee, John Romita Sr. and Jr., Jim Lee, and dozens more, the event was star-studded and packed to bursting with things to do.

Okay, enough with the set up. What did I do while I was there?

My wife Kat and I arrived at the Jacob Javits Center midday Friday, having already reviewed the schedule of panels and mapped out what we most wanted to do. My list included the DC Nation panel, Marvel's X-Men panel and the DC Universe Online game panel(s) which were to be held on Saturday.

On the way in, we saw dozens of cosplayers on their way to the anime convention being held in partnership with NYCC. Seeing the looks on the faces of passersby was priceless! If you go to the con, you must bring a camera. The pictures are always worth it.

Also mandatory: a visit to the cavernous, hyper-crowded dealer's room. If you've never gone to a large convention like this, imagine a flea market or trader's bazaar where you can find just about anything...for a price. For instance, I found tons of action figures especially (including Iron Man toys--to name just one line--that you just can't find in the stores). Even better, many of the vendors sell toys that are either long out of stock (stuff from the '70s! Yay! Where else can you find a Six Million Dollar Man figure?) or so obscure that nobody but us hardcore SF/fantasy/TV geeks know they exist. Truly, it's a wonderland for shoppers.

But it's not just action figures. You can also find costume clothing of all varieties (steampunk was VERY big this year), props, movies and TV shows on DVD and video, bumper stickers and (maybe coolest of all) original comic book artwork. This last is quite cool, as NYCC also features a huge...

Artist's Alley, wherein dozens of professional artists--from the extremely famous to the aspiring--all have table space and offer autographs (usually for free) or sketches and sketchbooks (for sale). It's a great chance to meet the people who create the comic art up close and personal.

If you want to meet the writers, they're usually at the publishers' booths (DC, Marvel, Image, IDW, Dark Horse, and so on) or at the panels. Kat and I caught up with our friend Mike Carey at the X-Men panel (more on that in a minute), which was great. This is one of the other huge pleasures of a convention (for me): seeing old friends. I caught up with a bunch of my former coworkers from WildStorm and was amazed that so many years had passed. Sure didn't feel like it.

Now what about the panels? I'll cover just a couple here. The first was the DC Nation panel, wherein Dan DiDio and Jim Lee, co-publishers of DC Comics, held an open discussion with the fans about what they like, don't like and have to say about DC's line of books. DiDio asked the standing-room-only crowd about Brightest Day, the biweekly series that spun out of the Green Lantern-based Blackest Night epic. Opinions were mixed but generally favorable; DiDio called out one fan's Aquaman hoodie and invited a young woman (dressed as a character from a future-set story) up on stage...something he later promised he'd never do again (albeit with a laugh).

Marvel's X-Men panel reviewed upcoming titles and current events, including the X-Men's current war against a nation of vampires--and the changes spinning out of that--as well as teasing their next epic: "Age of X." According to the panel, this storyline marks the end of mutantkind as we know it, which is surely huge news.

I also attended the panel showcasing Geoff Johns, DC's Chief Creative Officer and the mastermind behind the rebirth of Green Lantern and Flash. He discussed his work in comics and TV (he's written for "Smallville" and "Robot Chicken"), plus teasing next year's epic Flashpoint, a Flash-centered tale about which he said nothing.

The DC Universe Online game panels were astounding. Audiences were treated to a preview of the character generation system as well as some in-depth commentary from the creative team at Sony Online. The team acknowledged that the game, planned for November release, would miss its intended ship date and the Christmas season, but said that this reflected their commitment to delivering the best quality game possible. They also noted that players will not be able to play Green Lantern Corps characters right off the bat (as their story is largely space-based and the initial game is Earth-based). However, they feel that the gameplay will impress even the most skeptical--and had a chance to prove it later on at a fans-only event Saturday evening. All I can say is, DCU Online is going to rock!

After that, I spent an hour and a half watching the pilot episode of "Sherlock" (see my review here). Sunday was spent wandering the dealer's room and catching up on a final few bits of business.

It was an action-packed three days but overwhelmingly worth it. If you have any interest in comics-based conventions, check out NYCC. It's shown it has the goods and is growing fast.

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