My Complete New York Comic-Con Diary

This week past saw me head over to New York, to cover New York Comic-Con for The Beat. I wrote a diary while I was there, half of which I put onto the site. What I DIDN’T put up there, however, was the complete diary of my activities! No no – I saved that for here. So, with all the honours, here is my full and complete diary from New York Comic Con 2013.

Wednesday

– Wednesday may not have struck you as an actual day for New York Comic-Con – and it wasn’t. The convention itself doesn’t start until Friday. But Wednesday DID see the ICv2 Conference take place in the far corner of the convention hall, on the lowest floor somewhere beneath a large Pete Holmes poster. And it turned in quite the crowd

Heidi MacDonald and Calvin Reid were there of course, as the conference was sponsored by The Beat and Publishers’ Weekly. Torsten Adair also showed up, all 9 foot of him.

 – The conference split into four parts – an introductory talk, and three subsequent panels. Heidi or Torsten will probably be reporting on most of this, because it was about direct markets and sales and distribution and all kinds of words which don’t make sequential sense to me. So instead I’ll let you know that there were cookies during the interval! Cookies! The last time I went to a conference, we got half a Tesco quiche and grapefruit juice.

 – You know what’s TERRIBLE? Grapefruit juice. It’s like drinking concentrated fire, designed to flow through your entire body and poison every organ through direct contact. Why do people drink grapefruit juice? WHY

 – Simon Fraser, Jamal Igle, FirstSecond’s Callista Brill, ComiXology’s John Roberts and Diamond’s Dan Manser had a panel talk called ‘From Creator to Consumer’, in which the panellists talked about how creators are getting their work seen and distributed. Igle, whose series Molly Danger has been an internet-raised success story over the last few years, spoke at length about building an audience, keeping them, and then getting them interested in buying the comics.

– There was a general agreement that having work up online for free hasn’t really affected sales of the subsequent print comics. Fraser noted that several of his free comics (hosted on act-i-vate) showed up on torrent websites for some reason, but it didn’t seem to be having any negative affect upon his sales.

 – The rise of ‘insider knowledge’ of the creative process is starting to tell, the panellists said. Now readers can follow projects from start to finish – and thanks to social media/projects like Kickstarter, see the creative process behind them all – there’s a greater interest in creators in relation to the product they make. This has helped self-publishers and small press – it’s also caused problems as this openness spreads to major publishers, like DC, whose editorial process is bumpier and more brutal.

 – Anyway, after the ICv2 Conference I went off to Midtown Comics, to see what comic shops are like in the US. Luckily I have a well-loved copy of Spider-Man 2 for the Gamecube, meaning I have the rough map of New York already stuck in my head at all times. Unlike the game, Midtown Comics is on the second floor rather than the first, and if you head up the stairs you’ll find a HUGE range of comics around. The comics are arranged in a number of intriguing and mysterious ways, which I didn’t understand at all.

 – Still managed to pick up copies of Hoax Hunters, Half Past Danger, and Lil Gotham though, so all was well.

 – If you were wondering what happened to Orlando Bloom? He’s apparently made it to Broadway! So that’s where he vanished to.

 – Then it was over to Shake Shack (the original one, in Madison Square Park), as was recommended to me by Brett White. Once again I had no understanding of what was going on, but luckily Dan Slott appeared and joined the queue somewhere behind me. He was joined by a friend, who was in a similar position to me, so Dan Slott explained what you should buy at a Shake Shack and how it works. Naturally I listened in on the conversation like a creep, because I guess that’s what I am nowadays, and subsequently followed his instructions to the letter. Erm, sorry about that, Mr Slott. – They were good instructions! The burgers at Shake Shack are faaaaaaantastic.

– This was followed by a quick trip up the Empire State Building, before walking home. On the way home, what happened? Well, there was a SHAKIRA CONCERT HAPPENING.

Right there in the middle of a park, for no apparent reason! Is this the sort of thing which happens all the time in America? People didn’t seem fazed by the fact that one of the most famous women in the world was bending herself over double and singing songs at them.

Thursday

– There was a little controversy last night when people discovered that, once they had ‘activated’ their entry passes online via their Twitter or Facebook, ReedPop had used their social media accounts to write promotional spiel without warning. So several writers and members of the press found when they came back that there were three-four messages on their twitter page which they’d never written! ReedPop have promised that this won’t continue into day two.
– Once inside the halls yesterday I got over to the press lounge, where the world-famous (actually true, every two minutes somebody else seems to recognise her and walk on over) was embarking on the first of several valiant but failed attempts to get the wi-fi to work. We were shortly joined by Tripwire Magazine’s editor in chief Joel Meadows, who showed off the imminent Tripwire app which should be launching later this month. It was a very impressive thing, featuring interviews, profiles, reviews and all kinds of other things. Look out for it!
– Also at the table was one of The Outhousers, carefully scanning the room every five seconds in case DC Comics’ crack team of covert operatives abseiled down from the ceiling to shut him down. I went down to the show floor with him as soon as it opened, and we had a wander around.

– There is a LOT of stuff going on in New York Comic Con! Surprising nobody but me, I imagine. The show is absolutely huge, with all the retailers at one end and all the video games at the other. The comics booths are in the middle, with particular attention being drawn by Boom!, Image, and Marvel’s areas. Marvel have got Agent Coulson’s car ‘Lola’ in the middle of their area, which attracted a lot of attention.
– Immediately I stumbled against a long queue, which, when followed, had a man holding a “Hallmark” sign at the end of the line. I have no idea what Hallmark are up to which is making them so popular…
– 2000AD’s booth was up and running when I went over, and I got to have a quick chat with Mike Molcher, their PR Coordinator who is also around 9 foot tall and is the only man at the convention who can see from one end of the hall to the other with just a quick 180 turn. Located round the side from Marvel, they had to contend with a lot of noise and activity directly in front of them, but seemed to be handling it pretty well.

– Sgt Slaughter was walking around, staring at people through sunglasses. I’m told Hulk Hogan is also going to be around at some point, and presumably the convention will end with the pair of them fighting through the stacks, destroying everything in their wake.
– There was several very slick looking areas, including the Madefire booth which is all slinky and black and professional looking. Valiant have a tall booth with big banners all around it so it’s visible from most areas. Titan are also set up and seemed to be busy, whilst Archaia had a thoroughly classy area which somehow seemed unaffected by the chaos around it.
– Down artist’s alley, which is away from the show floor and in a huge room of its own, Rob Liefeld held court by the entrance as many creators settled in and got their stuff set up. Chris Claremont was happily signing and chatting to everybody who stopped by. As well as writers and artists, it seemed fairly busy for the various inkers and colourists – like Mark Morales and Edgar Delgado – who were set up in the hall.
– I got to speak to several people, including Greg Pak (who gave me a sticker!); Will Sliney and Stephen Mooney (two members of the Eclectic Micks collective of Irish creators which also includes Declan Shalvey – who was apparently down the pub all Thursday); Jimmie Robinson; Rachel Deering; Charles Soule.
– I also got to finally meet David Gallaher and Steve Ellis, who called me ‘the David Mitchell of comics reporting’. As a result I have immediately decided to grow a beard and become acerbic, so watch this space.
– Brett White, a writer for MTV Splashpage and CBR, was heading off to a panel and I managed to catch him just briefly. We established that neither of us can work analogue watches.

– Later that night was a party hosted by Dynamite and The Beat, where I knew nobody at the start and possibly everybody by the end. Hurrah! Lucas Siegel and Valerie D’Orazio were talking in one corner, Dean Haspiel holding court in another. I got to talk to several members of Valiant, who all seemed fairly thrilled by the positive reception the relaunched company has received. I also had a really good chat with Rob Salkowitz, the writer of ‘Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture’.
Mairghread Scott and Jason Enright kept me company for a while, chatting about sharks and Transformers. Mairghread is currently writing Transformers: Beast Wars for IDW, whilst Jason’s company Darby Pop are about to start publishing a series of new comics later this year, also through IDW. They were both LOVELY.
– Several other Brits were in attendance, including WE THINK Garth Ennis. Si Spurrier, Al Ewing and Antony Johnston were all around, as well as Stately Beat Manor’s own Ben McCool, who is ALSO a giant. There are so many tall people in comics! Or perhaps I’m just a midget?
– Multiversity Comics’ Matt and Vince came along, and later introduced me to ‘grilled cheese’, which I’m fairly sure is just Welsh Rarebit with a blunter name. Writer Brandon Seifert also appeared, and seems to be in the middle of a very hectic schedule of meetings and appointments this weekend.
– It was a packed gathering! And one thing everybody said to me? That Thursday’s crowds are NOTHING compared to the masses who’ll be showing up today and on Saturday.
Oh dear.
Friday
– Friday started off with the X-Men panel, which also served as a farewell of sorts for writer Marjorie Liu, who seems to be leaving comics to focus fully on her massively busy career as a novelist – so far she’s put out 19 novels!
– It was a really fun panel, with Nick Lowe and Jeanine Schaefer essentially auditioning to be this generation’s Morecambe and Wise. Although X-Men Legacy’s big announcement was postponed, Marvel announced an All-New X-Factor title and drew gasps from the crowd when they revealed new costumes for the X-Men.
– Horribly, though, their presentation was preceded by a 3-4 minute advert for Arizona Tea, which played on the idea that the presenter – a blonde woman in a low-cut tank top – had ‘Big Cans’ of drink. But also, you know, that was an innuendo. The crowd audibly recoiled during the moment where the woman drinks from one of the cans and purposely spills drink down herself. It was utterly gross.

– Much of this day was spent working out the convention floor, and particularly the areas outside of the comics bloc. There were a whole load of different retailers around, and I spent an hour or so trying to find a copy of Kathryn Immonen and David LaFuente’s Hellcat miniseries – which isn’t in print in the UK.
– Similarly out of print is Si Spurrier and Frazer Irving’s ‘The Simping Detective’ – a copy of which I managed to pick up from the 2000AD booth. It looks fabulous.
– Somebody working on marketing for ‘Oldboy’ had left temporary tattoos scattered throughout the press lounge, so I grabbed a load of them and tried (but failed) to apply them in the bathroom. Hum!
– There were a number of other nice people I got to meet today, including Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs (the creative team for Lil’ Gotham), the nice folk at First Second, Marvel inker Mark Morales (who was the only person to nod when he saw my business card, and agree with its sentiments – so he’s now my hero) and several others.

– Amongst those others were Tim Seeley and Mike Norton, and I was delighted that I got the chance to tell them just how much I love Revival, which is my favourite current comic series.
Justin Aclin and Nicolas Selma were signing copies of their Dark Horse series S.H.O.O.T. First, and were thoroughly charming.
– That night saw the Multiversity party, which got completely packed full of people within the first hour! It was a massive event, with hundreds of people present. A cracking end to the day.
Saturday
– Entering the hall as I came in for the start of day three, I passed two people cosplaying as Fantomex. TWO of them. And not a single person has been cosplaying as Pixie! Get your act together, New York. Tomorrow is your last day to be Pixie.
– Erm, getting to things you’ll be interested to hear about maybe, I got to say hello to a number of people including Bryce Carlson and Vanesa R. Del Ray, Nick Spencer, and Ron Richards. Despite last night featuring a Multiversity/Image party which apparently lasted much longer than anybody should admit to, everybody seemed pretty level-headed and awake!
– That’d be with the exception of some of the Brits, who had all been kept up until the morning by Garth Ennis and his suspicious hip flask.
– Sgt Slaughter is also still around, in case you were wondering.

– Boom Studios had their panel first thing in the morning, and woke everybody up by starting the presentation with “All Along the Watchtower”.
(There’ll be a full report on their panel later)
– Somebody took a photo of a cosplay Dazzler without her permission. I haven’t noticed too much of this creepy practise – this was the second guy I’ve seen doing it so far – but I told him off for doing it anyway. He seemed uninterested in the constructive criticism.
– One thing I’ve noticed a lot of at NYCC are ‘avatars’. When creators in artists alley head off for a signing or panel, somebody else steps in and minds the stall. One such creator is Michael Bramley, who was minding Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare’s table. We had a chat about his comics work, which you can find here.
– Publishers Weekly had a panel on European Artists, which I attended despite it being moderated by Heidi MacDonald. It’s probably not THE MOST professional thing for two reporters for a site to be in the same panel, but I wanted to see it – the panellists were Will Sliney, Stephanie Hans, Alvarado Martinez and Emma Vieceli, so can you blame me?

It was a really great panel, and the crowd were all delighted when we realised that Alvarado was the artist who drew Ultimate Pixie as part of Brian Wood’s run on Ultimate X-Men. Yay!!

(Again – a full panel report is coming)
– Archie’s booth was super-busy, with loads of books already sold. I got chatting to the guys running the booth, and they pressed a copy of Afterlife With Archie into my hands – my first-ever Archie comic! Expect a review of that at some point soon.
– Action Lab are stationed right at the far end of the show hall, and are well worth heading over to visit – I got my grubby paws on a signed copy of The Garlicks by Lea Hernandez, which is an absolutely lovely comic.
– The 2000AD panel was great fun, and the first time I’ve ever heard somebody at a convention mention the phrase “fluffer for gay Italian porn”.
(Once more – full panel report coming)

– Over in artists alley things were massively cramped. I said hello to Joe Caramagna, the Marvel letterer whose e-book Halloween Double Feature has just come out. We had a nice long chat about his work as a letterer, and how he writes the all-ages cartoon adaptations for Marvel. There’s quite a lot of work involved in adapting a 20-minute cartoon into a 20-page comic, especially with such large casts, and it’s startling to think how much effort goes into putting those comics out.
– Before that, I got into a very quite British fluster as letterer Cory Petit and editor Ellie Pyle also came over to say hello to Joe, and had a chat about work. Should I have walked off? Possibly. Did I? No. Rooted to the spot, I neither politely let them have their conversation out of my hearing nor contributed anything to the conversation myself. Sorry, Ellie Pyle and Cory Petit! I wanted to stop being rude by standing in on the conversation, but I was also worried about being rude by walking off!
– Jim McCann had advance copies of Mind The Gap’s third volume at his table – not available in stores – and seemed very excited about the upcoming ‘second act’ which will be starting soon. He’s sat next to Janet Lee, the brilliant artist for Return of the Dapper Men and Lost Vegas.
– Ryan Kelly also seems to be having a good convention, with his new Image series Three just starting up. We also talked about his webcomic Cocotte, which will hopefully also be making it to print soon.
– I wrapped up the day by chatting with Buddy Scalera until the convention organisers shut off the lights and started walking the aisles, telling everybody it was time to leave. He has a range of photo reference books for artists, filled with photos of models in different positions and stances. It’s the sort of thing which is SO useful for artists that it’s amazing more people haven’t done it – you can find more at his site, over here.

– And so, Saturday wrapped! Three panels and countless hours of walking and bumbling into things and people, all backed by the most unique smells imaginable. Comics! One more day left – will a Pixie cosplayer finally appear?
Sunday

– Well I can immediately answer that as a ‘no’. I didn’t see any Pixie cosplayers at any point. Booo!
– But hurray all round for the fact that I finally managed to find my long-lusted-for copy of Hellcat in trade, which was being sold as part of a “two for $5” scheme – I paid £1.50 for it!!
– There are a number of other people I got to meet today, as I took some comics out and got down to the hard business of having things signed. Jill Thompson’s table was filled with people, all of whom were unable to contain their excitement at getting to meet them. She gave everybody as much time to talk as they wanted – nobody went away feeling shortchanged.

– New Mutants co-creator Bob McLeod was at a table right next to Chris Claremont, which was phenomenally exciting. He very kindly signed a copy of my ‘X-Men Origins’ anthology, on the page he’d drawn of Cannonball.
– I managed to catch Comics Alliance’s Caleb Goellner – the only member of their team I saw at the convention, although I believe there were five or six of them around – and he gave me a rundown of advice for how to manage and survive a convention. He also gave me a copy of his comic ‘Rad Squad’, which is a like reading an episode of Power Rangers whilst somebody pours sherbet into your eyes. It is CRAZY.
– Sunday was mainly a day for forcing business cards and people and snatching ones from creative folk like Amy Mebberson, David Brothers, and the Atomic Robo team. It was all very exciting in artist’s alley, as people like Colleen Doran and George Perez set up shop right at the entrance and held court over proceedings. 
– I missed out on the panels I’d planned to see today, mainly because it was so easy to lose track of the time when in artist’s alley. I keep remembering other people I got to meet! Reilly Brown! Ryan Dunlavey! 

– Really, I’ve started to blur all the days of the convention experience into one amazing blur. I’m at the hotel now, thinking back on the last few days (and planning to do NOTHING all tomorrow). It’s been a really good experience for me, and I got to meet almost absolutely everyone I was hoping to.

– Albert Ching! Andrew Wheeler! Adam P. Knave! Others whose names don’t necessarily have to start with A! I’LL MEET YOU ALL EVENTUALLY!

– So many thanks to everybody who was so nice to me over the course of the week. I hope I’ve remembered you all! What a GOOD TIME it was!

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