This was a year of major firsts for New York Comic Con. This year, the convention featured three offsite venues, including Madison Square Garden. While con attendance reached record numbers, the offsite spaces meant that the main show floor, hallways, and Artists Alley didn’t often feel overcrowded (the exception being a few peak times each day).
The three convention spaces were The Theater at Madison Square Garden, the Hammerstein ballroom, and the Hudson Mercantile. Large events such as Neil DeGrasse Tyson and the Walking Dead panel were held at the first two spaces respectively. These large venues allowed for the main stage panel in the convention to be a third home to major events such as the Iron Fist panel. The Hudson Mercantile was used exclusively for Book Con events. While ideally, this works perfectly, Hurricane Matthew also wanted to attend the con. People who were waiting outside in the line for panels were waiting in the rain on Sunday. I also found Sunday to be the most packed at the Javits Center. There was definitely a correlation between people not wanting to go into the rain in costumes and the Javits Center being overcrowded.
The one fandom New York Comic Con did not anticipate was Stranger Things. The panel, featuring two actors from the show, was held at 11 AM on Friday. Now, I don’t know about you, but like most adults, I had work at 11 AM on Friday. Judging by how many people all weekend were in Stranger Things costumes, I would guess many who really wanted to were not able to attend this panel. This should have been a Saturday 6 PM panel.
Lines to get into the convention in the mornings were pretty brutal, and sometimes leaving the convention was a five to ten minute wait. This was due to fan verification. To get into any NYCC venue, you had to tap your badge with a volunteer’s phone. At the beginning of the convention, volunteers were asking attendees to show ID. They learned by Friday afternoon that this was a terrible idea, but for people with Friday-only passes, it left a sour taste. People waited for up to 3 hours to get into the Javits Center on Friday.
Marvel was king this year with their Iron Fist panel, which all of their Netflix stars crashed. Oddly, DC did not have any live action main stage panels. With Wonder Woman being released soon and the Justice League following on the big screen, and three major shows on the CW, it doesn’t make sense that DC did not showcase this. There was some hype about Wonder Woman‘s 75th anniversary, but the panel was not even held on a main stage.
The other popular panel content seemed to be representation in every medium. Panel topics ranged from feminism to including characters with disabilities and everything in between. There were panels every day on diversity, and on Sunday there was one at the Javits as well as one at Book Con. The convention itself was made up of a very diverse crowd. However, according to the #whitewashedout panelists, people of color make up less than 5% of protagonists in books and comics.
Conventions are never perfect, but New York Comic Con made significant improvements to decrease overcrowding and increase interesting panels this year.