New York Comic Con 2011

Another October is nearly past, and with it my latest trek down to New York for their version of Comic-Con. I attended for a couple of hours last year on a Sunday, just to get a flavor of what the show is about. My 2010 reaction was positive, but overwhelmingly Video Game and Anime Centric. This makes sense as this show started as an Anime festival which then morphed into a full blown Comic Con. When I decided to return this year, I made the commitment to spend at least 3 days at the show. Luckily,  my old friend Justin decided to travel with me, our first real convention (together) in over 6 years.

Justin and I left Massachusetts at about 9:30AM on Friday the 14th. The drive down was relatively uneventful. We did the usual 95S activities of stopping at McD rest stops and catching up on the last few years of our lives. Surprisingly little has changed, and we remain the same cynical asses we have always been. Traffic was at a standstill in the few miles preceding the George Washington Bridge, but once we got over it, and onto 9A, it was smooth sailing straight down Manhattan to the Javitz Center.

In preparing for the trip, I decided that it would be best to stay in New Jersey and park in the city every day. Now, I have driven in cities before, but I have heard so many horror stories about NYC that I was getting rather nervous about driving in and out every day. Upon arriving, we immediately noticed a parking garage literally 1 block from the convention center. Deciding that this was too good to pass up, we drove in and walked to the show. By this time it was somewhere around 2PM, and as I had been to this show before, I led us to where we needed to go. Unfortunately, the 2010 convention layout was nothing at all like the 2011 floor plan, and I got us lost. After consulting a map, we found what we were seeking- the Autograph Hall.

Most Convention goers attend the panels and do the company booths as a primary goal, while the purchasing of autographs and collectables are secondary. We, and many others, are different as we head straight for the celebrity autograph areas and try to get that done as soon as is possible. So, basically all of Friday was spent in the Autograph Hall. We got autographs of Eliza Dushku, James Marsters, Jerry “The King” Lawler, David Blue, and Erin Cummings with little real trouble. As we were doing this, however, I began to notice one line in particular growing to mammoth proportions. Deciding that the monster line tonight was preferable to a possibly longer one tomorrow, we jumped in for an autograph of Felicia Day and Sandeep Parikh of The Guild and Legend of Neil fame. This was a long line. I estimate we were there at least an hour, but once we arrived at the front, that old comic-con magic happened. You see, I was wearing a Boston Red Sox shirt (a dangerous thing to do in NYC), and it turns out Sandeep is from New Hampshire and is a true blue Sox fan. He reaches into his backpack and pulls out a weathered BoSox cap that he was hiding from the locals. We posed for a picture together…

and talk a little more Sports and New England. At this point, I sort of realized that I was totally ignoring Felicia Day, a sin for true geeks, and promptly said my goodbye to Sandeep and greeted Felicia. She was very pleasant, and looked a bit confused at my sports talk with Sandeep, but was cool about it.

By the this was accomplished, it was after 6PM… How did we spend 4 hours in that room, I do not know, but it went by fast. We walked around a little bit more and made some purchases. In my case, I bought a Ghostbusters “Slimer” bank, a Tardis and Green lantern Bobble head, and a copy of Octopus Pie the comic by Meredith Gran. We would have explored more, but the day of travel had left us tired, so we went back to the car and negotiated Friday Night traffic in Mid Town Manhattan. It was surprisingly not as bad as I expected. There was a little bit of a traffic jam, but I attribute this to the convention drivers not knowing where to go. We made it into the Lincoln Tunnel, and within 5 minutes were at our Hotel. Now, this was by no means a 4 star place (Hojo) but for Jersey standards it was good. The one distinctive feature of this hotel is that there is a main lobby building near the entrance, but all the rooms are on this 40 degree inclined hill behind it. Below is a stock photo I found of it.

Photos of Howard Johnson North Bergen, North Bergen

Now it was that bad of a driveway, but boy was it fun to drive down! I was having Dukes of hazard moments every morning. We checked in and immediately fell asleep, being the Old men that we are. The next day brought a continental breakfast, and a crazy comic-con attendee dressed very goth, with those vanity “zombie” contact lenses. She was ahead of us in line, and was trying to get a cup of coffee. There was probably some issue with her lenses, as she stood there staring at the coffee pots for several minutes. What followed was a hilarious exchange with the Hispanic kitchen attendant:

KA: (pointing to coffee pots) That one decaf, this one regular.

Goth: Thank you.

She continues to stare, without grabbing coffee.

KA: (pointing) Decaf…Regular.

Goth: I know!

This continued for a couple minutes, with the Kitchen Woman insisting to remind the young girl of which was which several times in a row. Finally, the fool decided what she wanted to drink. Following this, we headed out in the car towards the city. What little traffic we faced the night before had completely vanished by morning. It was a quick 10 minute drive, and we were back in the parking lot near the convention. Day two began right where Day one left off: Autograph Hall! This was the day we dedicated to finish out autograph collecting. For starters, I purchased some prints from C Martin Croker- Animator on Aqua Teen.

Yes, I bought a Balloon Hitler print, he signed and posed with it.

Following this we got autographs from Jason Momoa, Rose McGowan, Stephen Lang, and Jason O’Mara- all of who did not take free photos with fans 😦

We then headed back onto the floor and procured an autograph from Ian McNiece, whom I had met 10 years prior.

Yes, he was absolutely cool, and gladly took a photo with us.

We then spent the remainder of the day dedicated to exploring every inch of the show floor. We started with Autograph Alley and worked our way up and around. We bought some cool posters (though we call them oversized prints), a making of Jaws books, and a few other random trade paperbacks and a Bettie Page statue. After all this, it was somehow closing time, so we headed back to Jersey and had a nice dinner at La Fusta steakhouse.

Day Three had even less traffic than the previous day, this is mostly because we left early. We parked our car and took a cab down town to the 9/11 memorial. We got our passes and walked about a bit, seeing the sights. We walked St Paul’s cemetery, and well as Trinity Church, where we saw the grave of Alexander Hamilton. We headed over to the memorial, proceeded through more security than I have ever seen, and made it inside the park. Much of the area is still under construction, but the spaces were the towers stood were completed with the beautiful waterfall memorials.

Following this, we returned to the Convention Center. These final few hours were spent meeting Bill Amend of the comic strip Foxtrot, and walking the con floor for some last minute deals. I got a bunch of trades, a Bruce Campbell bust, a Boo-Berry Plush, and The Captain America Bust I have been salivating over for a year. FINALLY at a decent price.

The drive home was quiet and sleepy, for Justin at least, and we made it home around 6PM. It was a good trip. We spent too much money (as usual) but it was a good experience. Conventions are a funny thing. Each one has its own personality, and this one reminded me a lot of San Diego back in the early 2000’s before it exploded into the behemoth it is today. I will be back in NYC next year for at least the weekend.

Here is a link to my Facebook album containing all my photos from the show. Enjoy!

speak now, or forever hold it

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