Con Review: Two Views of NYCC 2015

A number of our forum members attended New York Comic Con in October 2015. This con was certainly an event to remember with various panels, special events, advance screenings, artists, exhibitors, and guests. Two members, mllNY and DRWHO_42, shared their experiences and views of the con from different perspectives.

Mike and Kevin NYCC 2015 cropped

 

 

 

 

mllNY’s Reflection

So these are my thoughts on the show, the good and the bad. I’ve broken down the elements of the show to provide my thoughts in a more cohesive manner.

Showfloor

Some highlights:

I was glad to see the show floor get some higher profile booths this year like ARH, ABC Family, Sphero, Sideshow, Funko, Weta, as well as maintaining other high profile booths IDW, Image, Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Capcom, Bandai, MEGA, Hallmark, etc.

Dark Horse having the Frank Miller signing along with all their other signings as well as adapting their line and letting attendees calmly form a line on Saturday morning as opposed to creating a chaotic event was A+++.

Image and DC with many signings as well is always cool.

The block has some nice booths there. Special shout out to Fez-o-Rama and Conquest Journals.

Some lowlights:

The exclusives in my opinion need work, Lego was there but for the second year in a row with no exclusives, this year they didn’t even have a giveaway, or even a mini build like they did at celebration.  I participated in the mega build at the booth but that’s about it.

The line for Funko was well typical Funko (more on that below)

I did occur typical con bottlenecking but have just gotten used to it, nothing you can do when you squeeze that many people into a limited space. People are going to stop and take pictures, they can put out PSAs if they want, it likely won’t stop.

I also think it’s time Chevy and Geico get off the show floor, if they want to put Chevy/Geico where Ash V Evil Dead was ok maybe even in a smaller area  off to the side in the back but I think their current location is prime real estate that could be used for other things and not cars and automobile insurance. Its advertisement I get that but I’m sure they can find another booth that fits the theme of NYCC.

Artist Alley

No complaints here, NYCC is tops.

My only suggestion is that they add aisle markers at the end of aisles as well as the front, if you have multiple stops to make coming down an aisle could become confusing and would be helpful if the aisles were clearly identified from both ends. That and any list of multiple hundreds of people should be sorted by last name.

Panels

Here is where I am in a bind. It seemed like this year was a mixed bag.

I understand ReedPop is more focused on TV shows and they brought out more than any other year, some had full casts (DD, Gotham, Witchhunter, Man in the High Castle,) some did not (GoT, X-Files, Supergirl,) and some were absent (Walking Dead).

Dark Knight Returns was probably my favorite panel this year, Star Wars Rebels was my second favorite, and DD and Jessica Jones were really good. I enjoyed Firefly, even if I am still not sure why a TV show 14 years ago with only 14 episodes and a movie gets a main stage panel, X-Files, Man in the High Castle, Into the Badlands, and Comic Book Men were all enjoyable panels.

That said in my opinion there was not even one A level movie panel this year. In the last few years they’ve had Avengers, Birdman, and Tomorrowland. If they had put together even a small Star Wars panel with 2-3 cast members I would have been extremely happy, especially given they run Star Wars Celebration. ‘LexCorp’ is there to promote Batman V Superman, but there was no big DC movie panel at NYCC. Universal had a huge set up with the Jurassic Park (but were not selling it early) and couldn’t bring one movie. It just felt inconsistent to me.

Also having two empty panels in the main stage in my opinion was not cool. I understand they want to expand outside of the Javits but in my opinion there should not be panels in other venues when their biggest stage is empty. Heck they didn’t even move any Empire Stage Panels to the Main Stage even though they had time. Also some of the panels on the main stage should have been on the Empire stage; I’m staring directly at you Lego Avengers.  Having Walking Dead on the badges but no panel?!?

Which leads me to my thoughts on the Walking Dead Premiere. While this was a NYSW event and technically not part of NYCC, this was billed as the ‘Premiere Event’ of NYSW and while it was great that NYCC was able to obtain just over 3500 seats to give away to NYCC attendees, I do think they should have negotiated with AMC better and obtained at least 1000 of the 3500+ seats they were given in the 100’s section. Yes they handed the UA pass holders a free entrance into the show and yes I had a good time since I was sitting next to many of my friends but because I was sitting so far up and away from the stage it was not as enjoyable. If there was a Walking Dead panel at NYCC I would be sitting within 5 rows.

In terms of the Hammerstein, I did not walk over, so I can’t comment on the good or bad. I did not want to chance a 20 minute walk over to the Hammerstein and get shut out and have to walk back another 20 minutes. The price for my ticket was too high to chance a wasted hour. ReedPop obviously booked the Hammerstein so they were likely not going to pull a panel out of there even if the main stage was empty. I did hear that people were forced to throw out food, even protein bars, at Hammerstein and there was very little messaging on that before the show. If Hammerstein panels are part of the NYCC badge, then food should have been allowed.

I won’t get into the WB autographing on Sunday morning, but it was a mess. I even saw one woman fall, no one intentionally pushed her, she just lost her balance in the crush, but still the whole thing was mishandled

Other Notes:

On the no pre-sale for tickets this year. I asked Lance about it in an email before NYCC and again at the Q&A. The response was essentially that their philosophy is to give every fan an equal chance at getting tickets so they are doing away with that ‘legacy program’, which I guess is a fair response. However, I will say watching the aftermath of no presale this year there were a lot more VIPs passes being sold on eBay compared to last year, so those are the great fans that were given equal chance at getting tickets. I’m not saying if there would be a pre-sale there would no VIP passes that get listed on eBay, but I 100% believe there would be less. I also asked why c2e2 has a pre-sale if everyone is supposed to be treated equally and is part of the company’s philosophy to allow the most fans to be allowed to participate in the VIP program, and the response was that it is a different show and that what he loves about ReedPop is that they can be quirky and that each show can be unique. So all I can say is that I’m a quirky guy so I would prefer to be treated like their ‘Chicago fans’ and be given a pre-sale. If in 5 years from now c2e2 sells out in 30 minutes will it still be a ‘quirky’ show with its own set of rules? Only time will tell.

And this leads me to the hardest part of the criticism that I have to write. I start this by writing that I respect all the ReePop staff, I’m friends if not friendly with a lot of them and I try to say hi to as many of them as I can and keep a positive attitude with all of them. The situation with the VIPs this year needs addressing. As an observer who really had no vested interest in some of the decisions made, I think ReedPop staff may have forgotten that VIPs are attendees and fans just like every other person and should not have to somehow be held to some weird standard.

The situation with Funko was concerning. I’m not going to get into who decided the ticket line had to be in the queue hall. My comment on this is that the stated benefit of the VIP pass is that it allows you on the show floor first; this is a benefit to allow a VIP to get the first crack at that one exclusive they really want. However, because you needed a ticket for Funko attendees had to go to the queue hall first. ReedPop staff were fairly clear at the talkback panel that the only stated benefit of the VIP was first on the show floor and not to the queue hall and that if you needed to go to the queue hall you needed to use the green entrance to line up. I feel that this was not right and against the spirit of the VIP pass, and was used as an excuse not to have to honor that portion of the pass in terms of Funko. If Funko was selling at the booth any VIP would have been able to walk directly up to them upon opening and make purchases. If the reason to not have a line at Funko was really to counteract overcrowding at the booth then ReedPop could have easily had a VIP line in the queue hall for Funko tickets. I don’t collect Funko, I didn’t try for Funko, I was not invested in the decision being a non-collector, but as a VIP pass holder and an observer this upset me and I could understand other VIPs being upset about the situation. What is to stop this from happening for other exclusives, essentially negating the entire benefit of the pass and the extra money spent on it.

Getting into the building in the morning was another sore point, as just another attendee to watch one entrance allowed in at 8:00am while another entrance was only allowed in at 9:00am This was a very odd decision; I won’t get into why I think this was done, I have suspicions but I got to the Javits Center at about 7:00-7:30am each morning and being kept outside that extra hour in the brisk NY morning weather was unpleasant. Also likely people arriving at the Javits Center at 8:45am may have been at least settled inside while they were keeping VIP, Press, and Pro-pass holders outside. During the Q&A it was stated that if we wanted to get into the building we could have used the green entrance, though I don’t recall anyone telling that to me in the mornings, and in fact I have a sheet that in bold lettering actually says I should only use the blue entrance. It does not state do this for x and that for y, it does not state this door opens at this time and that one opens at this time, it just says use your designated entrance and all messaging prior to the show was very clear on this. I think ReedPop forgot that Press, Pro, and VIP are fans as well, but again as I said at the very top if you remember that long ago (a bit G.R.R, M. like) maybe I am just alone here in these thoughts.

Final Thoughts

All in all did I have a good time, yes! I’m sure my criticisms may make it seem like I didn’t but yes I did, but I realize a lot of that has to do with how I made the show good for myself. I met friends, hung out with family, and did what I wanted to do to enjoy myself. I do think ReedPop took good steps but I also think they have to go further to become great. Maybe I am too invested into it and everyone else had a super great time with no issues at all. I had a good time; I just also have strong opinions, which I think is common when a person really does care about something. Maybe I am alone, maybe I am not, but I am putting it out there for good or bad. I am trying to be honest and stating my feelings.

 

DRWHO_42’s Reflection

I recently attended my 3rd NYCC and this was the biggest yet with a vast array of offerings for almost any fan. I attended the event as a general attendee for 3 days (Friday through Sunday).

Time to duke it out – NYCC vs SDCC

No two cons are the same but at points throughout this article I may compare my NYCC experience to SDCC to give some perspective for those thinking of attending NYCC for the first time.

Having attended both cons over the past 3 years SDCC is the premiere con for me on a number of levels. Although NYCC is my hometown con I have to say San Diego is a city immersed in supporting the con from marketing, signage, offsites, local business involvement & support, and atmosphere. From the moment you arrive at the airport in San Diego you see marketing on the conveyor belts and whole buildings are covered in signage. Walking through the Gaslamp at any point of the con you will see and experience the energy and enthusiasm of attendees, flash mobs, and roving teams of people handing out swag.

NYCC is an event within a city that has a lot going on at any point in time so this event blends into the mosaic of a typical day of the hustle and bustle of New York. You do notice fellow con-goers around Penn Station and definitely around the Javits Center.  Once you are near or within Javits you are transported to that magical place being surrounded by fans, artists, exhibitors, and cosplayers.

Purchasing tickets

When I first attended NYCC I purchased my ticket a few weeks before the con and it was based purely on the guests who were scheduled to attend. Fast forward to this year the demand for tickets has increased exponentially so when tickets go on sale it is an “all hands on deck” event. The demand was so high during the 2014 sale prospective buyers crashed the ticketing gateway. Due to the increased demand ReedPop is now using similar methods of facilitating the ticketing process as CCI by creating a virtual “waiting room” of sorts. I was successful in purchasing my desired ticket as well as tickets for my friends.

Tip – My advice to anyone thinking of attending NYCC is to figure out what plans now for next year and prepare to purchase tickets when they go on sale. Waiting is no longer an option considering the increased popularity with the bigger cons.

Badge and entry

NYCC employs a RFID-enabled badge. This makes entry into and out of the con fast and easy. There is no need for onsite registration since you register your badge online so on your first day you join the line with everyone and walk right in.

Exhibit Hall Floor

I will say that in my three years of attending this con I have noticed how much longer it takes to get from point A to point B on the floor. Three years ago I was able to navigate through the entire floor within an hour or so. Now it takes a good deal of time to navigate due mainly in part to the increased number of folks on the floor.

For a slightly selfish reason I was happy to see BBC America’s booth (with a real TARDIS on display) among the new additions to the floor this year. Generally the booth at SDCC is an hour wait at any given point but during NYCC there was not much of a line. This may change next year. I do not collect Funko so I will mention them but I cannot comment on the buying experience. I did spend a bit of time at the Marvel booth and this was due to the autograph drawings and signing events not to mention purchasing a few items.

Hallmark had a decent presence and the line was very healthy so if you attend next year this is a recommended early stop if you want their exclusives.

Lines & Queue Hall

Lines exist at NYCC, but there are not nearly as significant as you would find at SDCC. There is no need to camp out for a Main Stage panel wristband so if you arrive at a decent hour in the morning you can pretty much get into the panels you want or get on the exhibit hall floor without much of a problem. For example, I arrived to Javits at 9am on the Friday (one hour before the floor opened) and was able to make my way to the Marvel booth for the Agents of Shield autograph drawing – and YES I won a ticket.

The general line was orderly in the mornings and once you enter into the building you are guided to the queue hall. Within the queue hall there are designated ‘chutes’ for each Main Stage Panel, exhibit hall, and there was a line for Funko.

In all this was very organized with one exception – the Warner Brothers autograph debacle (more on that later).

Main Stage Clearing

Unlike Hall H in SDCC the Main Stage at NYCC requires wristbands in order to gain entry and employs room clearing. The process is not bad at all and eliminates room camping. My suggestion for lining up for the room is to arrive at least 30 minutes beforehand because there are folks who arrive early to get a seat.

Tip – There is a balcony in the room so as you enter the room and you notice that most of the seats are taken I would strongly recommend heading to the balcony.

Main Stage and Empire Panels

I am a TV/Movie guy so I go to the media panels mainly. I attended some really good panels this year – Daredevil/Jessica Jones & The X-Files. We were treated to the first episodes of both Jessica Jones and The X-Files. No spoilers but I will say that they were very good.

The Empire Stage panels were a little trickier for me since they do not clear the room. Due to my own scheduling conflicts I did try a few snippets of the WB panel block as time allowed.

Tip – I would recommend planning ahead or scouting the line for the Empire Stage before your desired panel to ensure a good shot of getting into the room. BTW – If you are a VIP ticket holder there is a special line for you but there could still be a wait.

Panels in the Hammerstein Ballroom

This is the first year panels are being hosted at this offsite location. In prior years this location was used for paid Super Week events so I went to a couple of panels. I will say that this was a great idea and they certainly can expand the panel schedule in upcoming years to accommodate attendee demand. While the venue is a few blocks away from the convention center it is only a 10 minute walk.

The one pet peeve is that ReedPop failed to mention the rules on what can be brought into HB. On my first day it rained so the ban on umbrellas was not the most optimal rule especially if you had brought your own umbrella you had to leave it outside – hoping for the best that it was still there when you left the building. Not being allowed to bring outside food and beverages was another rule that should have been announced beforehand. I had four bottles of water I had with me and this meant disposing of my water supply for the day and purchasing water again – which is a waste of money.

Thoughts on the Warner Brothers autographing debacle

The only low point of this con was the literal stampede created during the autograph wristband distribution. For me I tend to pursue autographs for my personal collection so if I decide to pursue an autograph opportunity it is for something I want or meet an actor/actress/creative person I respect & admire. The offerings were really good but the information about the distribution came out late Saturday. Logistically, the distribution was designated to one table in the Autographing Area and it was “first-come-first-served”.

I will say that the ticket distribution could have been organized and managed better Sunday morning if ReedPop designated a chute in the queue hall specifically for this and also had split the distribution table from one table to several tables – each handling a specific show. More importantly setting up tables on opposite side of the room to help split the crowd probably would have helped with crowd control. Personally, once they allowed folks to proceed to out of the queue chute – which was a mixture of exhibit hall, Empire Stage, and the Autographs a literal stampede ensued. Most of the crowd “rushed” to the WB table and it was clear that there were more people trying to squeeze into the line than what was setup. Security and ReedPop staff attempted to halt the line in order to regain control which led to a large mass of people unable to move. I was stuck in the mass of people unable to move or leave which was not a safe situation. I was finally able to make it in to the area and received a wristband but the whole situation leads me to question if I would do it again at NYCC.

In comparison to SDCC there is one table for WB autograph drawings (with multiple offerings each day) but the entry process into the convention center is controlled so there are literally no crowd control issues. In addition, there is staff positioned at key points to ensure the crowd knows where to go and also control some of the potential line cutting attempts.

Autograph area

This is where I tend to spend a bit of money. Unfortunately this year my main autograph targets cancelled so I did not spend too much time there this year. Overall, the area is organized quite well and the offerings range across a wide array of folks from Wrestlers to TV or Movie legends.

Final thoughts

Overall I had a better experience than I had anticipated. I am looking forward to returning next year.

 

 

To continue the discussion, share your experiences & tips on NYCC, or see what others are discussing about NYCC please click on the below link to the FOCC Forum: 

NYCC General Discussion

DRWHO42

Kevin aka "DRWHO42" watches a lot of TV and avoids spoilers like the plague. He is an avid Whovian, Trekker, fanboy, gamer, traveler, planner, self-professed gym rat, and Starbucks espresso loyalist. When not plotting out his schedule for the next tent-pole movie or watching his favorite shows he is on the hunt for pop-culture TV & Movie media news. More importantly he is a frequent attendee of San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) and New York Comic Con (NYCC). Follow him on Twitter @kevinDW42 @FoCCBlog