New York Comic Con 2006 – DAY TWO

Wow, what a disaster day two turned out to be for New York Comic Con. I’m sure that we’ll be hearing about this for a while, and if we don’t then we should be ashamed.

This reporter got to the convention center in the afternoon and was surprised to see that the atrium that was so much akin to a ghost town the night before was now teeming with people corralled like cattle into a serpentine line whose beginning and end disappeared out of my field of vision.

This theme would repeat itself throughout the day.

I bypassed the line and made my way to the staircase that led down to the entrance to the convention floor. What I came upon was completely unexpected. The stairways and escalators were taped off, and firemen, police, security guards, and convention staff milled about barring people from making their way from the atrium to the convention floor entrance. The Fire Marshall had come in and cut off any further access to the convention. No one in the massive line in the atrium would be receiving badges or ever see the inside of the convention. My untrained eye estimated that to be on the order of 500+ people. This included my friend SK, who I had not seen since college, and randomly saw in the endless line. She and her friends were told that they could wait three to four hours for the crowds to ease and the Fire Marshall to allow further access, or accept refunds for their pre-purchased tickets. Apparently, New York Comic Con was not just oversold, it was massively oversold, and a good percentage of those advance ticket buyers showed up. I saw and talked to a lot of angry, upset, and ultimately disappointed people.

My press badge got me past the increasingly irritable people guarding the entrances and every lingering fear that I had on Friday about the relative size of the convention space versus the amount of people was fully realized. The floor was bulging with bodies. Certain areas, like the Artist Alley, were impassible. To add insult to injury, if you did not have an Exhibitor, Professional, or Press badge and you left the convention floor to attend any of the panels, you had to wait in another massive line to get back into the convention floor.

Conditions eased up in the late afternoon but the bad taste remained and the poor planning was the talk of the convention floor. Never in my life have I personally attended an event of this prestige, scale, and magnitude that has been so poorly planned and run. I’m sure that everyone involved are all fine people, but how anyone could not see this disaster coming is beyond me.

Needless to say, I won’t be returning to New York Comic Con on Sunday for day three. If this convention is held again next year, they must do it in a bigger space. The Jacob K. Javits Center can accommodate a convention of this size, it’s just that they had the convention crammed into one of the smaller convention halls in the complex.

This was such a disheartening and disillusioning return of the big time comic book convention to New York City.

The day wasn’t a complete waste of time, though. I attended the Civil War panel held by Marvel, mostly because I knew absolutely nothing about the event and I wanted to see if they could sell me on it — and I think they might just have done it. The panel was moderated by Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada, and featured writers Brian Michael Bendis and Dan Slott, editor Tom Breevort, and artists Steve McNiven, Ramon Vacchs, and Dexter Vines. Civil War centers around a schism in philosophy amongst the Marvel characters (stop me if you’ve heard this before) that causes heroes to form into two ideological camps that end up in physical conflict with one another. This is all apparently brought about by some disasterous event that leads to the deaths of a lot of innocent civilians and to the debate that causes the schism: what is more important, public safety or personal freedom? This revelation caused my left eyebrow to cock as it is wont to do when my interest is piqued. The prescient nature of this event has me intrigued. While this event resonates throughout the entire Marvel Universe, it appears to be very Avengers-centric with the super team being “front and center,” according to writer Brian Michael Bendis. He went on to say that by the end of Civil War “this team gets ripped to shreds,” and that a completely new team roster would emerge from the rubble. This was followed by perhaps the most puzzling moment of the Q&A session, when a fan asked about the appearance of (the currently incarcerated) Daredevil in the preview art that was being shown on a big screen, Bendis responded by saying that Daredevil would be on the new Avengers team and no one was quite sure if he was kidding or not. He certainly seemed serious. The news that evoked gasps and then applause was that the legendary Howard Chaykin would be penciling an upcoming Captain America-centric issue of The New Avengers. Three other pieces of information to come out of the panel: Alpha Flight really is dead, apparently, with a new team set to come out of Civil War; Hawkeye will be back soon; and there will be a four issue Runaways/Young Avengers mini-series in the midst of the seemingly dozens of other Civil War-related mini-series.

It was a long day that felt a lot longer than it actually was because of the conditions that the convention-goers had to endure. I’m glad that a big time comic book convention has returned to the Big Apple, but I’m embarrassed about the form in which it took.

Check out the Day Two picture gallery!

Comments

  1. I was there inline from 1 to 2 and even though i prepaid already we were all turned away. this con is garbage.

  2. I’m sorry, but Azzarello grew his hair back, and grew a moustache?

    Can I get more reporting on this?!?

    (Harrowing by the way)

  3. I pre-paid too. I bought a weekend pass. I couldn’t get in on Saturday and decided not even to try today. I still don’t understand how this could have happened. What crap!
    I was really excited to go to this thing. I hope I get my money back.

  4. You know…if the West Side Stadium deal went through…we’d have a decent convention center… 🙂

  5. I suggest that everyone who got screwed by this write to the convention organizers. I’ve seen no mention of this disaster by any of the other comic websites, and that disturbs me. Hundreds and hundreds of people getting screwed over is the real story of the convention, not the new artist on an X-Men book.

  6. I found a story on the debacle:

    SHUT-OUT COMICS FANS CRY #%&#!

    BY ETHAN SACKS and OREN YANIV
    DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

    Organizers of the inaugural New York Comic-Con were cast as villains yesterday when they had to turn away hundreds of ticket-holders because of dangerous overcrowding.

    After 10,000 people crammed into the Javits Center, fire marshals ordered the event managers to stop registering guests – even those who had already paid their $25.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/02-26-2006/news/local/story/394871p-334781c.html

  7. Okay, credit where credit is due, Newsarama has two stories up:

    NYCC: GREG TOPALIAN ON SATURDAY’S SHOW

    So – what happened to cause the shutdown of the New York Comic-Con floor, anyway?

    The simple answer, of course, is more people showed up than Reed Exhibitions were expecting. Many more people. Many, many more people…

    An (unofficial) estimated 20,000 showed up at the Jacob Javits Center on Saturday looking to get into the show. The problem with that number was twofold – the show hall could only hold 10,000 people, and according to their best estimates, Reed was hoping for a 20,000 turnout for the entire weekend.

    http://www.newsarama.com/forums/showthread.php?s=f7dcf6f495a93604dd71c12b03de0572&threadid=60904

    NYCC: CROWDED OUT AT THE CON

    by Matt Brady and Ryan McLelland

    Without a doubt, the story of the New York Comic-Con on Saturday didn’t come from a publisher, creator, or manufacturer. The story was the crowd.

    In retrospect, on Saturday, many exhibitors and pros at the con were looking back at Friday’s healthy turnout as something they perhaps should’ve taken as a warning sign. While Friday featured programming all day for trade exhibitors and attendees, the exhibition floor was only open to press and trade from noon until four. By two o’clock, the floor was looking nicely full – a good crowd for a Friday of a show.

    http://www.newsarama.com/forums/showthread.php?s=9abbce0003d921d09772e553e099bd2a&threadid=60900

    And now Comic Book Resources:

    http://www.comicbookresources.com/news/newsitem.cgi?id=6783

  8. I’m sorry, but Azzarello grew his hair back, and grew a moustache?

    Can I get more reporting on this?!?

    This was completely traumatizing. Also, the first time I tried to take his picture, he looked right at me with his Azzarello eyes and I “eep”ed internally and scurried away into the crowd.

  9. Refund information for those who couldn’t get in to the con on Saturday:

    http://www.nycomiccon.com/app/homepage.cfm?moduleid=2526&appname=100453&CampaignID=12659&iUserCampaignID=22079368