There was a moment on Saturday of New York Comic Con that I walked down the stairs and turned left instead of right. I needed to go right to where I wanted to go… but in San Diego I would have turned left. Suddenly I forgot where I was. It felt like San Diego.
Admittedly I was probably jetlagged and/or hungover, but still. The people, the corwds, the booths and more importantly the vibe – New York Comic Con had become indistinguishable from its West Coast counterpart, for a while at least.
There were differences of course.
New York Comic Con has been growing and growing, and this year it ballooned. Walking the floor before the show opened, I copuld not for the life of me find Artists Alley and that ‘s because it was almost in another building. I wasn’t sure people would be able to find it, so I made a video – which was tweeted around the place by other comic book professionals fearing the same. Weirdly, this also most Artists Alley into a comic convention in its own right, and a very good one as well, cash machines, natural light and space… even on Saturday. If you weren’t near Graig Weich’s booth with Ice T and Coco. On its own it made for a better comic convention than most Wizard Worlds I’ve been to.
The show doesn’t quite have the Hollywood draw that San Diego has, but makes up for it in gaming. It doesn’t have the programming breadth that San Diego has, but makes up for it by having more of an audience willing to go to the smaller panels, so no one felt ignored or irrelevent. And it doesn’t have the Hyatt bars as a concentrated mass of comics industry professionals in the evening, but it does have the kind of Irish bar where you can totally bump into Garth Ennis and Brian K Vaughan sharing a pint, but willing to engage with everyone who wanders in.
There si a fundamental difference in the foundations of the show – San Diego Comic Con was founded by those who love comics and their culture. New York Comic Con was founded by a convention organiser who famcied a bit of that action. But one way or other, they have arrived in the same place – a show that becomes what you want to take from it – or put into it. I firmly believe that if you did not enjoy yourself, then that was down to you. The show gives you everything you could possibly want, it’s down to you to seize it. Becaise it offers so much, everyone’s experience of it differs and we end up as blind men describing an elephant – apart from the massive crush on Saturday, we all suffered from that.
I bought fantastic looking comics I’d never seen or heard of before, as well as a high ticket exclusive item or two. I was hugged on the show floor by people who recognised me – which compared to last year was a definite improvement. Katie Cook had a line going around the hall, but I still managed to line her up for something for Bleeding Cool Magazine. And I even got the wifi to work. Though San Diego’s was better. And I signed up a new columnist, making her debut tomorrow, simply because she was sat behind me in a panel ranting to her friend and I thought “I’d publish that in a heartbeat.”
There are space issues, it’s true. Maybe you have to work a little too hard to get the convention experience you want. But maybe, just maybe, that makes the apple that much sweeter when you take a bit.