Although I have been to a couple of small comic book conventions recently, it's been years since I went to a really big one. That situation was remedied a few weeks ago when I attended the 2011 New York Comic Con. Along for the ride were Perfect Wifey (of course), and my good pal, the multi-talented John Forcucci.
I went primarily to attempt to network with some editors and hopefully scare up a few gigs. Unfortunately, the whole event was such a congested geek-a-thon that I was not really able to do much "networking". I don't feel too badly about that, as it didn't seem like there was a lot of that going on. Mostly, it was the same kind of convention as the smaller cons I've been to: Just a big flea market full of desperate vendors with a few discussion panels and presentations thrown in. Oh, and there were also the obligatory collection of fans who had dressed up as their favorite characters, with widely varying results. Here's a hint to all the fans out there who want to play dress-up at a con: Please try to be within fifty pounds of the weight of the character you are depicting. Nobody wants to see a pudgy Iron Man. Grooming is important too. Ladies, although I'm not a fan of the character, I'm pretty sure Sailor Moon shaves her arm pits. You should too.
Although, as I said, I didn't do the "business" I had hoped I would, I did have a good time and see some fun stuff. The highlights:
• There were a bunch of toy companies showing off their upcoming releases. The action figures I'm most looking forward to are a 3.75" line of figures based on the TV cartoon, "The Venture Bros." A small company named "Bif Bang Pow!" is behind this line, and the figures look fantastic. I can't wait to get them.
Unfortunately, I may not be able to get them. BBP! has stated that they need to get a certain number of pre-orders of the figures, or they will be unable to produce them. If you like the show, you'll love the toys, so go here, and pre-order them now. Hurry! You only have till October 31st!
• I met a bunch of Doctor Who fans at the con and, as much as I hate to generalize, they are the most self-centered bunch of nerds I've ever encountered. The worst example of this was a woman on the shuttle bus back to the hotel, who droned on and on in a VERY LOUD VOICE about Doctor Who to some strangers she had duped into conversing with her. Actually, she spoke less about Doctor Who, and more about what she thought of Doctor Who. She never even asked the people she was talking to their names or where they were from. When we got off the bus, I was surprised we had only been on it for twenty minutes. She had made it seem like hours.
• I saw a guy dressed as Blankman, from the movie of the same name. That was a delightful surprise, as I thought PW and I were the only people who had seen that film. Oh, his costume was great, too! If I was in charge of passing out prizes for costumes, he would have won one.
• There were a lot of small publishers trying to drum up interest in their titles. The most curious one that I saw was some guy launching a series of books based on the old comic strip character "Joe Palooka". Really? "Joe Palooka"? Is there anyone out there who even remembers who that character is, let alone anyone hungry for new stories that re-imagine the character (formally a boxer) as an "Extreme Fighting" guy? There were lots of examples of this sort of brittle dream at the show.
• We only went to a couple of panels. They were pretty poor. Uninterested guests speaking to an ignorant audience. The panels were a far cry from the panels at the cons of my youth. I remember one con that had a "Quick Draw" session between artists like Harvey Kurtzman, Joe Kubert, John Stanley and more. Nothing like that at the NYCC. Probably because the "pros" who were in attendance wouldn't do a sketch for a fan unless they got paid for it.
I understand why pros charge money for their sketches; I'm sure they've been burned by seeing work they did for free up for sale on Ebay. However, I did see one "Funny" artist refuse to do a drawing for a little kid. Come on, Man! I really doubt that nine-year-old is an Ebay Bandit.
• Speaking of pros, I did meet some cartoonists whose work I have admired over the years. One was Ramona Fradon, whose work on "Metamorpho" I always liked. She was very nice, but since I wasn't going to buy anything from her, our conversation was rather brief.
The one pro I was THRILLED to meet was the legendary Harvey artist, Ernie Colon! Ernie and I have exchanged quite a few emails and telephone calls, and we even almost worked together once. I had never had a face-to-face with him though (The picture here is a document of this historic moment). He was there to promote his latest book, which, unlike "Joe Palooka", is something everyone should get. Go here, and buy right now!
BTW, Ernie was as charming in person as he is via electronic device. Seeing him made the whole trip worthwhile.
So, will we go again? Probably. We did have a good time, although I am not sure how much of that was the con, and how much was the company I was with.
Next time, a review of a book I have been anticipating for quite awhile now. Or maybe another of my annual Halloween Diatribes. Or something else!