Alex Wilson went to San Diego and NEw York for Bleeding Cool. Time for a grudge match;
New York Comic Con (NYCC) and San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) are a few of the biggest events in the comic book industry. NYCC sits around 105,000 people while SDCC just pushes over that with 125,000 but let’s face it, once you break the 100,000 it doesn’t matter, you have a huge event.
Security isn’t necessarily more relaxed at NYCC but it seems to have different priorities. I was never asked to move for sitting against a wall, as I have been hundreds of times at SDCC. Sometimes my badge was very loosely checked. By that I mean people who were sitting at artist ally entrances just looking off into the distance as people walked by them. There were so many people it was impossible to check them all without holding everyone up for a long while. NYCC had as much police and security force as SDCC and even a bomb-sniffing dog named Raven.
SDCC prints off your badges and they have the attendees name on them. NYCC (along with c2e2) give a generic badge for what ever you are. Press have the same badge, attendees have the same badge. There is no difference from one press badge to another and there is no difference between an attendee badges to another, except for different types (3 day, 4 day, individual days.) One thing that NYCC does is if you badge gets flipped around there is something on the back that also indicates the badge. At SDCC my badge gets accidently turned around about 50 times and I always have to watch out for it. At NYCC that isn’t a concern.
I think the major difference between guests is that SDCC has become this almost press expo that is open to the public. Every film company wants to come in there and show off their new ideas and films. Comics have taken a back seat at SDCC but other media has blossomed. NYCC has to book guests like Carrie Fisher (Star Wars) and Adam West (Batman.) They sign for a few hours and then leave. At SDCC celebrities come to promote new projects. They are there to get people excited. NYCC film guests don’t always have something new to promote so sometimes it can be less interesting. NYCC though does have a much more comics driven convention. I found it easier to approach creators and find booths then in SDCC where the floor is so huge it borders on a half mile.
Winner: SDCC for TV and Films, NYCC for comics
When people think of convention food they think something you pay way too much for because it’s in front of you. When I go to SDCC I always get a cookie and a bottle of orange juice in the morning as to give me a little pick me up at the beginning of the day. I would sometimes get a pretzel dog (basically a hotdog) and a bottle of water. There really isn’t that much selection beyond that but a lack of selection can be a good thing. In NYCC they have a wide variety of food. You can get pizza, hamburgers, and Chinese food. They have a food court in the bottom of the Javits center. The problem is that the selection of food can be a curse. A word to the wise is to shy away from the Chinese food at NYCC. It literally tastes like vomit. Some people may thing that I meant figuratively but I didn’t. I gambled big on Chinese food and when I ate it I tasted something familiar in my mouth and after about two seconds I realized it was vomit. It was horrible. I can’t speak to all the food but I’m guessing they are not of the highest quality like their Chinese food.
Winner: No one, but if I had to pick it would be SDCC. They are the safest but here’s a pro-tip. Bring your own food.
SDCC unarguably has more movie and television panels with anything and everything that will be coming out in the next. Most of those larger panels are split up between Ballroom 20 and Hall H. Getting into Hall H becomes harder and harder each year. I’ve heard stories about people who get in line around 3 AM for Hall H and don’t get in until noon. People camp out over night. Ballroom 20 isn’t as bad but be prepared for hours of line waiting. NYCC has the IGN Theater with screenings. IGN has upcoming films such as the Evil Dead but Quentin Tarantino isn’t coming to NYCC to show off his newest upcoming film. Panels really aren’t that different except more on average gets announced at SDCC but NYCC had a Bleeding Cool panel and SDCC didn’t.
Every year I wait in unimaginably long lines at SDCC. I have gone as a fan and as press and I can tell you that lines are what you make of them. I remember my first year at SDCC, I waited in line to get Olivia Munn’s autograph. I waited in line for about five or six hours total (counting the line to get tickets to wait in line) and I will tell you the people around you are just as excited and in to the things you are. Some of the best conversations I have ever had have been in lines. You can learn a lot about what people are excited about, you can learn signing locations you didn’t know before, and you can even find news that not many other people know.
On the other side of this coin, lines are tiring if you have something you could have been doing and there isn’t a worse feeling than waiting in a line for a hour or two and finding out there was plenty of room in the panel. Actually, scratch that, the worst feeling is waiting in line for hours and not getting in. I never really encountered a huge line problem at NYCC. Some lines were longer than others but for the most part I got in to what I wanted to see. In SDCC I have to pick and choose what panels I go after because of the lines associated with them.
They are both great sized show floors but NYCC is a bit more split up than SDCC. NYCC has “the block” in a separate section than the main show floor and Artists’ Alley is on a separate side of the convention center. There are advantages and disadvantages to this. Only people who want to go to Artist Alley will go there at NYCC. In SDCC people pass by the artists at one of the entrances to the convention floor. This is promote artists but on the flip side the Artist Alley at NYCC seems less busy the people there took the time to walk over for the artists, not just because they are passing through. I consider that a major plus. “The block” at NYCC seemed to be the deadest area of the convention. I didn’t venture over there very often but when I did the area seemed a lot less populated than the convention floor itself. The convention floor at SDCC is bigger but everything also feels a lot more compressed. The booths feel more spread out at NYCC with a mixture of popular booths in a more spread out area while you can really draw a clear line at SDCC of where the more popular booths are and where it becomes “the rest.” I always enjoy making my way to the further end of SDCC’s floor because there are usually less people and there are some really interesting booths on that side.
Winner: NYCC because it’s more spread out.
The Convention Over All
This becomes difficult to discuss because both are amazing conventions and both have amazing things to offer. I preferred artist alley at NYCC because it was in a separate space from the craziness of the convention floor. I liked being able to see just artists. In San Diego they have their area but it’s still in the massive convention floor and very close to the video game area, which is always crowded.
SDCC has more movies and television and feels more and more every year like an open to the public press expo while NYCC still has the feel of a true comic convention. There is a TV and film presence at NYCC but it doesn’t feel like it’s taken over the convention like it has at SDCC. It really depends on the type of fan you are. If you are someone who gets really excited about Grant Morrison, Brian K. Vaughan, and Garth Ennis then you may feel more comfortable at NYCC but if you have an interest in the latest films, television, and adaptations then you will find a place at SDCC. In any event a fan will have a good time at both of the conventions. It’s a coming together of our collective culture and a celebration of what gives all of us joy.