My Very First NYCC Experience

It’s Saturday morning, and my first day attending New York Comic Con 2013! Excited, but anxious as I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve been to only two conventions before, but nothing like this.  My first convention was Philly Comic Con (Wizard World), which was crowded, but quite small and didn’t consist of many panels. The second convention I went to was the Supernatural Convention in Whippany, NJ back in May of this year (run by Creation Entertainment).

Any geek convention is basically the cosplay center, so, naturally I had to do some sort of cosplay for my first day attending. I had recently become a big fan of the Hawkeye comic books and decided to do a two-part cosplay with fellow Nerd-Base member Christopher as Hawkeye & Kate Bishop. I tried to get as accurate as I could with her outfit in the comics (specifically the one pictured here), but it’s nearly impossible to find a matching zip up jacket and jeans that are exactly the same shade of purple.

Kate Bishop from the Hawkeye Comics.

Kate Bishop from the Hawkeye Comics.

Unless of course you make it yourself, special order it, or wear a body suit and customize it from there. Luckily, I ended up finding a nice purple zip up “yoga jacket” from Target (as well as the purple aviators), and purple jeans with a nice wide belt from H&M. Also, being that I’m blonde, I ordered a black wig from eBay to top it off. The one thing I was missing was the helmet pictured, but there was no way I was either wearing a helmet over my wig, which was already bothering me from the moment I had put it on, nor carrying it around. So, I decided to do without it.  Chris had nailed down the Hawkeye cosplay perfectly. We had seen a few Hawkguys at the con, but none with the details he had put into it, including the gauze wrapped around his arms, and medical bandages randomly placed on his face. Chris had also dyed his hair blonde! That is dedication, my friends.

From the comic book 'Hawkeye'; I am Kate Bishop, and Chris is Clint Barton.

From the comic book ‘Hawkeye’; I am Kate Bishop, and Chris is Clint Barton.

On our way over we grabbed breakfast, hit up Wawa for free coffee, and hopped on the ferry over to Javit’s Center! As soon as we had walked off of the ferry, it was easy to see comic con had taken over the city.  Anyone who may have felt a bit silly dressed up in costume quickly felt at ease within a mile’s vicinity of Javit’s, because a sea of people were dressed up in their costume of choice just the same.  With the amount of people that were heading into the building at the same time as us, I was surprised at how easily and quickly we got in. There were tons of staff on hand and we didn’t have to wait in line for very long (almost not at all).  All I had to do was hold up my pass (which I previously registered online, so, no need to exchange anywhere for physical tickets) to what looked like a mini tablet, it lit up green, and I was good to go. The same goes with leaving the center as well, making sure no one was switching off their passes to friends who possibly didn’t get tickets and having those who didn’t pay sneak in.  A brilliant idea in my opinion.

We had arrived a few minutes before the panel for Once Upon a Time was about to start.  Being as I’m a fan of the show, I of course wanted to check out the panel.  By the time I got to the area where the panel was taking place, it was clear I missed my chance to get in by about an hour. Rookie mistake. I had debated waiting in line to take my chances on possibly getting in, but I was too excited to see what else the convention had to offer so instead I decided to opt out of that panel and visit the showroom.

Another brilliant addition to the convention experience is the NYCC app that I had on my phone. I’m not quite sure if this was available in previous years, but it was nice to have, especially if you’re a planner like myself. I enjoy spontaneity on occasion, but in this case I wanted to have somewhat of a schedule. Not only is there a list of panels, celebrities, and the different times, but there’s a feature that allows you to “check” the panels/celebrities you would like to see. Once your list is made, it allows you to choose if you would like to be notified of the events, and how early (2 hours, half hour, 5 minutes..etc.). NYCC Mobile was certainly an asset to the convention experience.

NYCC Mobile App for both iPhone & Android

NYCC Mobile App for both iPhone & Android

The showroom was chaotic, but that was to be expected.  There was something new and interesting going on in every direction.  From t-shirt giveaways, to a Walking Dead “house” and scenery, as well as the armed “Walker killer” car that allowed con-goers to go in and take pictures of themselves in action. I did not participate, but it seemed like a blast from the reactions of the fans inside.  I did, however, take my picture in front of Lola! For those of you who don’t live by the phrase, “Coulson Lives”, you probably aren’t familiar with Lola. She’s the red hottie in the new hit series ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’.  That’s right, I’m talking about Agent Coulson’s beloved transportation device!

I had walked around the showroom quite a bit, then had decided to check out artist alley, which was on the complete opposite side of the building.  By the time I had gotten to artist alley, and was just about to look around, a friend of mine had texted me that the John Barrowman panel line was starting to build up. I knew if I wanted a decent seat, or even if I wanted to be in the room at all I had to make my way back over to the other side of the building once again. With a dramatic sigh (because I just got in the room from walking that far through a sea of people, and because I really enjoy looking at art work) I turned around and headed to the ‘Empire Stage’ where Barrowman was going to be.  It was only 4:30pm at this point, and his panel wasn’t starting until 6:30pm, but I knew waiting was part of the whole comic con experience, unfortunately. Plus, if I was going to see just one panel the entire weekend, I’d want it to be John Barrowman.

Me in front of 'Lola' - the famous car from Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

Me in front of ‘Lola’ – the famous car from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

The clock turned to 5, and I was very surprised when they started letting the line into the panel room this early. I was only in the third row in line and was sure I’d have great seats, but once I entered the room, I noticed the entire first half of the room was already filled up. Was this press? Nope. It was con goers from the previous panel that had decided to stay in their seats for the next one. I ended up finding the best seat I could. It wasn’t in the very back, but it was pretty far back, not to mention there was a giant pole in the center of the room blocking a bit of the stage (I’m sure it was significant for the structure of the building, as it was massive.. but still).  At first I was very irritated… how is it fair that people can just sit in a room all day, taking up seats? I thought to myself, well, at least there are big screens throughout the room for those of us in the back, or those of us who are blocked by giant poles.

Anyways, the panel begins, and it’s 5:15pm. Odd, I thought. A group of people walked onto the stage and took their seats, then begin introducing themselves. I wondered if I went to the wrong room, but then I checked my phone and saw that before Barrowman, there was a DC Panel “The New 52” taking place in the same room. Well, I suppose sitting in a seat and watching a random panel is a lot more interesting than sitting in line on the floor and draining my phone battery checking facebook or texting people. Okay, so I was wrong. Let me just start off by saying, I have nothing against DC or the comics. I am new to the comic book world, and I’ve even read a bit of “Birds of Prey” which I enjoy. However, I’ve never seen a more bored and uninterested group of people in one room. I’m almost positive I’ve been more entertained watching a student made slide show. The writers and artists were showing sneak peaks of some of the new issues to come, and what to expect without spoiling anything. While the artwork was nice to look at, they seemed entirely unenthused.  Even (clearly rehearsed) jokes didn’t get so much as a chuckle, and it was easy to tell that the host was not amused at the silence.  The room was mixed with John Barrowman fans, and DC fans. Once the host announced the panel was done, and they would be taking questions, about 20-30% of the people got up to leave. This includes some of the people towards the front. People are leaving? Seats are opening? I shot out of my seat and darted up towards the front to grab the closest seats I could find. Now I was about 5-10 rows back and no big poles blocking my view! Perfect.

Thankfully, there was only about 15 minutes left in this dreadful panel, and the Q&A had started. At least maybe the fans can spice it up and ask interested questions, which they did. The answers they received, however, were quick, and not very helpful. On occasion, there would be an answer that was well thought out and tried to seem helpful, but it was clear they did not want to be there at all, and really had no interest in talking to their fans. Even the giveaways were painful to watch. They were really nice prizes too, given away for “interesting” questions, but anyone could tell they were told they had to give these prizes away before the end of their panel, and they really couldn’t care less who they went to and why.

Finally, the panel ends and the anticipation building up to John Barrowman’s panel was felt all around the room. Although John is/was in the hit CW show ‘Arrow’, it was obvious this was a Doctor Who heavy room. Which I was perfectly fine with, as I am a Whovian myself. After taking two hours out of my day, John Barrowman finally entered the stage. I was so excited, but nervous that it would be dull considering my first official panel wasn’t anything great.

John Barrowman - Fabulous.

John Barrowman – Fabulous.

Let’s put it this way: If John Barrowman was the sun, we would need SPF 500 and dark shades all year round because of how bright the world would be. This man brings so much energy and warmth to any room within seconds. You could be having the worst day, and I’d bet money that he would make you smile, at least once. I’m not going to get into the entire panel because there will soon be an article on here specifically about John Barrowman’s panel, but I will tell you this. If you ever get a chance to see him at a convention, do it. He was well worth the long wait, and if my entire day was sitting in his panel watching him answer questions and tell stories, I would be perfectly fine with it.

After the panel had ended, it was near the end of NYCC that day. Artist Alley was closing shop at 8pm, and I didn’t want to be rushed looking at the artwork. So, we decided to head home. It was a long, but fun day.

Sunday, the final day of NYCC 2013 had arrived and I was thrilled not having to wear another wig! I didn’t cosplay, but instead decided to wear my Dalek dress that I’d been itching to wear for months now. Pictured is my dalek dress. It’s the only picture I have of myself from Sunday, and perhaps I should explain: I’m weird. If I don’t smile in a picture, I tend to look angry or bored, so I opt for making faces. Now that you know that, we can move on.

The entire weekend I had ‘Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog’ stuck in my head. I mean the ENTIRE soundtrack running through my head. I partially blame our friend Ed for that because on Friday he was Dr. Horrible, himself, and Sunday he was Captain Hammer.  Anyways, we made it a point to get to the convention as early as possible because Chris had a photo op with Sir Patrick Stewart! I tried calming him down, but how does one calm down when they’re about to meet Captain Picard?

Fair Warning. This is the part of the article where I may rant a little bit, but it’s all constructive criticism. This is in no way against the staff at NYCC. For the amount of people that attended, I know the staff did the very best that they could to keep everyone happy and organized.  When I lived in Philadelphia, I worked for a popular radio station (93.3 WMMR) and I am quite aware how chaotic large events can get. This is simply a suggestion to the event planners to better future comic conventions.

The photo op lines were long, but organized. I could tell the staff was doing the best they could with keeping everything in order. One very long line that wrapped almost around the room was for those who did not yet purchase photo op tickets and would like to buy one. The other two lines (at the time) were for Patrick Stewart (solo), and Patrick Stewart with William Shatner. I understand that there are tons of photo op sessions going on throughout the weekend, but my suggestion would be to the event planners of NYCC is to set up a decent size poster of each of the celebrities before their photo op in the front of the line (or gate). That way, it wouldn’t be confusing to figure out where to stand. While I was waiting in line with Chris, I was asked by at least 10 people which line was which. The staff would occasionally come around with a megaphone letting people know where to stand, but the place was so packed that new people were coming in the room just about every second.  The photo ops started around 10:30/11am. I was surprised at how quickly the line was moving, but I remembered from the Supernatural convention that photo ops took less time than getting an autograph. You walk in, they snap the picture, you walk out. There’s barely a chance to say hello to the celebrity you’re meeting. Again, I know this isn’t a meet & greet, and that there’s a plethora of people to get through in that little window of time. If you’ve never done a photo op before, don’t expect a magical moment of telling your story about how they changed your life, or what that moment means to you, sorry. That’s just how any convention goes.

Nerd-Base founder Christopher with Sir Patrick Stewart.

Nerd-Base founder Christopher with Sir Patrick Stewart.

Minutes later, Chris came out of the area where Patrick Stewart was, and he had a look of shock on his face. Well, duh, he just met Patrick Stewart. I had asked him about picking up his prints. What? They never said anything? This boggled my mind. We looked around for those wearing an orange ‘Staff’ shirt, and most were unsure. That wasn’t their job that day, so I didn’t hold it against them. Eventually, we found out the pictures were towards the back of the room on a long table. We were never told when we should expect them to be out or anything like that. We figured we’d give it a few hours since there were tons of photos that needed to be printed out.

With rushing to meet Sir Patrick, we didn’t have any time to eat breakfast, and decided to go a few blocks to grab something. Here’s a bit of advice to newbies – unless you absolutely have to, do not eat at the convention center. You can just as easily go out & in of the center as many times as you please without worrying. Not to say the food is bad, I’m sure it’s delicious. However, being as it’s a convention center, the prices are hiked up a bit. You’re in NYC; there are tons of restaurants and fast food places within minutes that you’ll more than likely get more for what you’re paying for.

Making our way back into the convention center, it was about 2/2:30pm at this point. A friend of ours that lives far away and couldn’t make it that weekend had asked if we could get him a John Barrowman autograph. John was signing until 5pm, we had plenty of time, or so we thought. The sign that was in front of his line specifically said ‘John Barrowman Autograph Signing – 11am – 5pm’. You would take the evidence in front of you to be true, yes?

Perhaps I am a bit biased by experience, but the way autographs were handled was quite disappointing. Unlike photo ops, you had to buy your autograph ticket at the table that the celebrity was signing (unless you got them online days before the convention).  Basically, you’d hand their handler your money and walk right over to them. Sounds simply enough. The line for Barrowman was ridiculous. I wasn’t at all surprised seeing as everyone loves John. We were a good distance in line behind the ‘safe zone gate’, but it was only a little before 3pm at that point, and his autograph session was going on for another two hours. I figured we’d be up to Barrowman at least within the next 45 minutes. It should take about 15-30 seconds for each person to get their autograph, and 30 is being generous (count out 30 Mississippi’s in your head).  Five, ten, fifteen minutes went by.. we didn’t budge. The line wasn’t moving at all.  Maybe John was taking a break? Understandable, seeing as he’s been signing since 11 in the morning. About five minutes later, a staff member with a megaphone informed us towards the back of the line that there’s a good chance that we won’t be meeting Mr. Barrowman. What? It’s only 3:10pm! I don’t understand.

“Mr. Barrowman has photo ops at 3:40pm, and he’ll be gone for at least 45 minutes, possibly an hour.” We were told. This was my big issue with the way autographs were handled. Clearly, his schedule was out ahead of time, even before the convention. Why not put on the poster in front of his line ‘John Barrowman will be signing from 11am – 3:40pm’? We were told we could take our chances and wait the hour.  I, like many others, was upset and furious at this situation. We had just waited in line for over an hour and barely moved, and now we’re being told to sit tight for another hour and we have the slim chance of possible getting an autograph? The convention on Sunday closes at 5pm, and I didn’t even get to see artist alley.  However, we knew how much our friend wanted that autograph and we decided to give it another hour and take our chances.  Not even twenty minutes later, the same staff member came out and announced that when John gets back, he’ll only be able to sign about 30 autographs, give or take a few. The ’30’ mark was about 20 people in front of us. They were the ‘danger zone’. At this point, Chris & I looked at each other and realized we would only be waiting for disappointment, unfortunately. So, we got out of line, sadly, and made our way over to artist alley with what little time we had left to see it.

This is my suggestion for the way autograph signings are handled:

1.) Sell autograph tickets ahead of time online. Which they do. They got that part right.

2.) If you miss out on your window to buy them online, only sell autograph tickets either the day before at the convention for those who are signing the next day, or possible early in the morning for those who only have a one day pass. Cut off sales at least a few hours before the signing though!  If people are late and miss out on purchasing the tickets, I’m sure they’ll be pissed, but they’ll be a lot happier missing out and getting to see a panel, or seeing other parts of the convention rather than waiting in line for hours only to be turned down, and thus not being able to see anything else.

Amanda - The strangest Dalek in all of the universe.

Amanda – The strangest Dalek in all of the universe.

With that being said, my biggest issue with NYCC was the way photo op print outs were handled. I was absolutely floored with this situation. I had mentioned this a bit before, but not only did they not give any information to those who had photo ops about where to pick up their prints, but the area with the photos on the table was awful. The only comparison I can think of is the way animals would fight over a carcass. The table was shoved into the back corner of the room, with no staff manning the table or even anywhere near it. Pictures were sprawled across the table, in no order whatsoever. It was a task itself just trying to get anywhere near the table, and no one was budging. Come to think of it, I think I’ve had an easier time getting up to a stage at Warped Tour. I managed to squeeze my way through the sea of people and spotted Chris’ photo with Sir Patrick, but there was no way I could reach it, unless I jumped on the table (which I was very close to doing). I yelled to Chris that I found his picture, but had no way of reaching it, and a very kind young lady in front of my picture asked which one it was, and handed it to me. I was grateful there were people like that in all of the madness.

Later on that night, I overheard people talking about the photo op print outs and how a stack of Sylvester Stallone AND John Barrowman prints were stolen by someone. Mind you, the Stallone photo ops were about $500. Thankfully, no one grabbed Patrick Stewart prints (that I’m aware of), but I know I would be livid if it was my picture that was missing. To this day, I’m not sure how that was handled, but I know that shouldn’t have been possible to do if they had someone handling the photo op print out table in the first place.  I’m more than likely going to look into what exactly happened to the prints, and if anyone was able to restore them, then I will make an update post on here.  I can only hope the people who were robbed from getting their pictures will write letters and possibly next year things will run a lot more smoothly.

Finally, we made it over to artist alley, and it was a nice ending to a busy weekend. The room wasn’t nearly as packed as the other rooms, and the artwork was brilliant. Had I more time (and money) I know I would have purchased some of the beautiful art. There’s always next year!

To anyone who hasn’t been to a large convention like this before, I leave you with this.. any photo op or autograph that you want, I highly suggest purchasing your ticket online ahead of time.  You’ll be guaranteed a spot, and you’ll be happy knowing you’ll get what you want. Arrive at least an hour and a half before a panel that you REALLY want to see. Even if that means sitting through a panel you’re not so interested in (then move up in the room when others leave). Finally, enjoy yourselves! Take your time, walk around and take it all it. I’d suggest getting the 3 or 4 day pass so that you can really get the whole experience.  Even with my minor set backs, I know I will be back next year for sure, and cannot wait to go to other conventions around the states as well!

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One comment on “My Very First NYCC Experience

  1. OMG!! I absolutely love your cos-play costumes!! You both look fantastic! I am huge Matt Fraction Hawkeye fan as well as the Marvel films and John Barrowman for that matter! Great work! I hope you guys had an amazing time! 😀

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